One of the things about learning to brew your own beer from somebody is you better get along with them because that first session takes hours! Thankfully, my first brewing session meant I was able to hang out with my buddy Jeff. Killing time in his garage on a brisk Saturday afternoon in early October, sitting around the kettle as my winter spiced ale brewed, the conversation wandered at that nice, familiar pace that only comes from having been friends for over 20 years. Of course, considering our history, music was a big topic of the day, including concert regrets. I have two concert regrets – not shows I wish I’d never seen, but shows I missed.
My Number One with a Bullet is Roger Waters’ Radio K.A.O.S. tour stop at Blossom Music Center in August of 1987.
It was the summer before my seventeenth birthday, and I was working a couple of jobs, including mowing the lawn at the local community park and busing tables at a crappy restaurant. Up to that point in time, I had only attended two concerts – David Lee Roth the previous fall, and Mötley Crüe earlier in the summer of ’87. I seem to remember it being a combination of my own money management issues and my parents not being all that comfortable with my concert going activities yet as the main reasons I was unable to attend the show. I’m sure the normal teenage notions of independence and arguing with my parents about “freedom” and “space” came into play, too.
I don’t remember who I was even going to go to the show with, but I knew even then that this was a show I really needed to see. And, by all accounts, it was a spectacle. Radio K.A.O.S. wasn’t a huge hit, but it was and still is one of my favorite albums. (I did an in-depth piece on it back when I wrote for PopMatters. You can check that out here.) Waters took DJ Jim Ladd on tour with him, and the show was staged as a giant radio show, complete with phone booths set up around the venue for audience members to “call in” and ask questions. Of course, it was never filmed and the likes of it will never be seen again, but, man, I think it would have been amazing.
Of course, a month or so after the Roger Waters show, I did see Boston at the Richfield Coliseum. I’m sure my parents’ fears and my money woes were cast aside because I saw the concert with my older sister, my health teacher (who my sister was dating at the time), and my best buddy Mark. I wouldn’t attend my first concert at Blossom until a year later when I saw The Beach Boys, Roy Orbison, and John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band on a triple bill the next summer. And, for what it’s worth, I did see Pink Floyd on their Momentary Lapse of Reason tour in the fall of ’88, so I guess that’s something.
My other concert regret is a little different and much more recent, so the wound is still fresh. Jack has been taking private drum lessons for just over a year now, and he just started up with fifth grade band this school year. He loves percussion, and I’m always eager to share anything I think he’ll appreciate – like The Black Keys, The Who, and Rush.
So when I saw Rush was touring to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of Moving Pictures, I knew I was going to take Jack. I was able to get in on the presale and get us some amazing seats in the lower bowl, stage right, near the stage. I was ridiculously excited. Then, after purchasing the tickets, I realized that there was a good chance we were actually going to be in Hawaii the day of the show.
This was a trip Tracy was trying to earn through work, and you don’t turn down free airfare, five-star hotel accommodations, and all food and entertainment included. I get that, and I was not then, nor am I now, ungrateful for the opportunity to return to the islands and enjoy a fantastic family vacation. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there is a tiny little part of me that is still disappointed that Jack and I didn’t get to share that concert-going experience.
I have seen Rush numerous times throughout the ’80s and ’90s, but this was different. The band was playing Moving Pictures in its entirety, I was taking my kiddo with me, we had killer seats from the pre-sale, and the band was taping the show for release on DVD and Blu-Ray. I have never, to my knowledge, attended a show that has been officially released like that, and even though we weren’t at the show, you damn well better believe that Blu-Ray is on my Christmas list this year!