Rock On

Wednesday night my husband and I had the absolute pleasure-joy-thrill of going to see Heart and Def Leppard. It was our first concert together (crazy, right?) and my first concert since February 1, 1989 when I saw Bon Jovi (New Jersey Tour) with Skid Row . The last concert my husband saw was Mötley Crüe‘s Dr. Feelgood Tour back in early 1990. Raise your hand if you remember Tommy Lee in a cage spinning around over the audience… Chris actually thought he might ask me to go see them with him and his roommates as our first date, but he didn’t think I’d ride an hour and a half one way to a concert with a group of guys I barely knew. He still regrets making that mistake!

Someone I went to high school and college with recently posted the following in Facebook:

When I saw Motley Crue and Poison in their prime in the 80’s, tickets were less than $20 and it was standing room only mosh pit on the floor. Now, 25 years later, they are selling tickets for $100 and it is reserved seating on the floor. I guess they figure Crue fans are getting to old to stand. Oh, and they are starting the show at 7 to make sure we are not out too late. “When did Motley Crue become classic rock?”

As hard as I laughed when I read it, those words came back to haunt me (sort of) on Wednesday night. Oh sure, those differences rang true for this concert. There were some other differences, though. Gone are the days when an announcement would be made that cameras or recording devices would not be allowed. I remember an episode of “What’s Happening” where ReRun gets conned into sneaking a big tape recorder into a Doobie Brothers concert. If you recall, ReRun was big on dancing. He couldn’t help himself, and the recorder fell out from underneath his trench coat. The Doobie Brothers caught him and used him to catch the real bootlegger. Now, however, not only is it allowed, concert-goers are encouraged with an announcement that pictures and videos posted to the concert venue’s wall on Facebook might make it onto the oversized screens.

Strong Women, Strong Voices

I remember going to concerts and there was so much smoke in the air you couldn’t tell if it was from the band or the crowd – and not all of those cigarettes were legal, either. Now there are “no smoking” signs posted everywhere. Is that why lighters have given way to cell phones? I’m actually giggling typing that one. I find that funny for some reason. My husband handed me his lighter anyway to hold up during one of the power ballads, and I wasn’t the only one trying to keep a flame going without burning my fingers or setting something on fire.

We noticed a lot of gray hair when we got there. I loved seeing all of the women there, a bit softer and maybe a little squishier than we all were “back in the day”. We were all in our ripped up jeans, rocker t-shirts, and lots of eyeliner. Some women even braved high-heeled boots. I almost did, but I know myself well enough to know I would be on my feet, stomping the entire time, so I switched them out at the last minute for some flat shoes. It seemed as though the minimum age requirement for sitting in the rows closest to the stage was thirty-five.


A lot of us started reminiscing about our first concerts, how long it had been since our last concerts, and who we saw at those last concerts. As the people around us started telling us how long it had been since they’d seen Def Leppard in concert I confessed to having given up my tickets to go on a blind date with a complete jerk I never saw again and how I’d regretted it ever since. It was 1988.

We laughed about hoping we’d be able to stay up late enough to see the whole show. A group behind us asked if we wanted to rush the stage with them. I said, “We’d better start now. Looking at all of us, I think this might take a while.” One of the women suggested that we just send her husband in while we watch. He was a sprinter in high school.

As we waited for the show to start, we were treated to The Beatles, Cheap Trick, and Electric Light Orchestra on the loudspeakers. The show’s sponsors seemed to really understand who their audience was. A young man named Evan Winston came out to warm us up, and played guitar and harmonica and sang from his gut. He was good and the audience appreciated it.

When the lights went down we were all twenty years younger again as every one of us stood and belted out “Magic Man”, “Barracuda”, “What About Love” and “These Dreams” with the Wilson sisters. We all went from accountants, business owners, teachers, and stay-at-home moms to just plain badass head bangers. We rocked out to “Rocket”, “Photograph”, “Pour Some Sugar on Me”, and the most fantastic version of “Rock On” ever. Did I say “ever”? I mean EVER!!!!!

When Def Leppard said “Goodnight,” I was determined to be the last fool sitting in the amphitheater at four in the morning waiting to hear “Pyromania” if that’s what I needed to do. It wasn’t necessary. They performed it as their encore and it nearly sent me over the edge and I was absolutely in heaven. Somebody asked me just Thursday if that was the only song they did for their encore and I honestly couldn’t remember for a moment because they were all over the place before, during, and after. As far as I was concerned they could have done fourteen more sets and I wouldn’t have noticed because that’s what I had waited twenty-three years to hear live and at that point nothing else mattered.

Well worth waiting 20+ years for!

Nostalgia hung thick in the air and made the music that much richer and sweeter. For a few hours we all forgot our ages. Our hearts remembered how hard we banged our heads all those years ago, and I’m willing to bet I’m only one of thousands of people in the greater Portland-Vancouver area who woke up with an unbelievably sore neck, a stiff back, and angry knees.

An entire audience of parents and grandparents remembered every single word to every single song. I thrashed. I jumped up and down. I screamed so much I’m still hoarse. I whipped my hair. I’ve had muscle spasms in my right hand for two days from throwing “rock horns” for nearly the entire concert. My husband lovingly reminded me I was going to pay for it the next day. All I could say was, “It was worth every penny!”

Michael Damien did a version of this for License to Drive. Doesn’t hold a candle…

Ann Wilson still has an amazing set of pipes!

It just doesn’t get any more classic than this:

1 Comment

  1. The line “When did Motley Crue become classic rock?” is actually from a Bowling for Soup song 1985 which is a great song by a great band even if I won’t let my kids listen to most of their songs because of the lyrics. They also did the theme song to Phineas and Ferb but I digress (what else is new?).

    I haven’t attended many concerts, but do remember not only my first Van Halen concert but the nostalgic memories exactly as you mention when I saw them the second time, plus half those memories when I saw Sammy and Michael playing once in a concert. It is a great way, albeit expensive, to re-live our youth and feel younger. At least while it lasts.


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