My first concert was supposed to be Roxy Music with Modern English on Saturday May 28th, 1983. I was 17, about to graduate high school and, as I’ve written before, somewhat of a music-obsessed geek. Two friends and I had tickets for the show, and all systems were a go despite a last-minute change in venue (due, I believe, to poor ticket sales) from the Spectrum in South Philly to the Tower Theater in Upper Darby.
The rest of that specific memory is for another post, however. The reason I start with it is this:
One of those same friends came to me the week of the 16th: Would I like to see the Kinks on Saturday with him and a mutual friend’s older sister? I don’t remember why the mutual friend (who was more of acquaintance to me) couldn’t go or if he even wanted to go, just that the ticket fell into my lap because of his absence. It’s possible that he was a casualty of the concert having been rescheduled – the show was originally slated for March, but pushed back to May for reasons unknown. In fact, the sister – who was a few years older than us – may have originally intended to attend the March fest with her friends only to see those plans wrecked by the date change.
All I knew was: the Kinks! Yes, I wanted to go! I liked them. Many of their songs were standard fare on Philly’s two rock stations, WMMR and WYSP, so even though I didn’t own much by the British rock group, I was familiar with all their classic tracks; and “Come Dancing,” their latest single, was getting much airplay – especially on MTV. (And when I say “I didn’t own much by them,” I mean it quite literally. The double-LP One for the Road live album, which I bought in late 1980 after reading a review in Rolling Stone, was it.)
To the night in question: The ride to the Spectrum was far simpler and straighter than the ride to the Tower Theater would be the following week: a straight shot down I-95, off at the proper exit and…there we were, ready to rock. I remember our seats as being first-level, but I doubt they were – and no seating chart that I can find dates back to the early ‘80s. Wherever Section R was, that was us. I do recall we had a good view of the stage, however, and that our section was sparsely filled.
Oh, and the sister was annoyed most of the night – not with me, but my friend.
According to Doug Hinman’s The Kinks: All Day and All of the Night, the Maryland hard-rock band Kix opened, but I have no memory of them. None. Nada. Zip. What I do remember: the arena going dark, spotlights skipping across the crowd while ambient noise cascaded from the sound system – and then the killer chords of “Around the Dial” spiraling from the suddenly well-lit stage. Ray looked dapper in a sport coat and tie; I’m not sure about the rest of the band.
One other memory: “Destroyer.” The drum-and-bass intro lasted a tad longer than on record; and Ray sang-spoke to the beat in his pre-rap rap, “Met a girl called Lola and I took her back to my place/Feelin’ guilty, feelin’ scared, hidden cameras everywhere/Stop!” The arena went pitch-black – well, as pitch-black as it could get. The band went silent. The audience roared. Maybe 30 seconds. Maybe less. And then the lights doused the stage again. “Hold on,” Ray spoke-sang. “Stay in control…”
What else? I’m afraid my memories have become intertwined with the audio from One for the Road, which I still listen to with regularity, and my second time seeing the Kinks, at Penn State’s Rec Hall in late 1985. So when I hear “Lola,” I hear Ray teasing the audience – and, according to the set list below, he did it this night, too. And when I think of “Come Dancing,” I see lights swirling and twirling across the crowd. The same with “Celluloid Heroes…”
In my desk diary, I noted that the show was “excellent” and referenced “Lola” and “You Really Got Me” as being high points.
Anyway, I searched the ‘net for more information about this concert and came away with only this blog post, from which I’ve borrowed the set list; it may or may not be accurate. I should also mention that State of Confusion, the album-home of “Come Dancing,” had yet to be released – that would come in June – so the title track, “Don’t Forget to Dance” and “Bernadette” were not known entities at the time. (Wikipedia pegs the release as the 10th, but I record buying it and Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back” single on the 2nd in my desk diary.)
What else? I picked up Give the People What They Want the week after the concert. It was a great show.
- Around the Dial
- Definite Maybe (intro only)
- State of Confusion
- The Hard Way
- Come Dancing
- Don’t Forget to Dance
- (Lola intro)/Lola
- (Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman
- A Gallon of Gas
- Art Lover
- Till the End of the Day
- All Day and All of the Night
- Low Budget
- Celluloid Heroes
- You Really Got Me