Sunday, July 10, 2005

Live At Red Rocks

Here's some more Colorado-flavored nostalgia:
There is a venue in Colorado that has been the site of many now legendary performances - Red Rocks Amphitheater. Each summer I would eagerly anticipate the list of shows that were coming to Red Rocks. The schedule would begin around Memorial Day, and the season would close before the snow began to fly in mid to late September. The magic of wandering into an acoustically perfect natural wonder and watching the lights of far away Denver come up as the stars came out was satisfying in itself, and then the shows would begin.
I saw Talking Heads play there twice. I saw John Belushi touring with the Blues Brothers not long before his date with destiny. I laughed along with a herd of other folks as Steve Martin recorded the second side of his album "Wild and Crazy Guy." It was a given that Jimmy Buffett would have a beach party (or two) there every summer. The first time I saw Bruce Springsteen was at Red Rocks - a transcendent moment for me.
A good portion of the experience of going to Red Rocks concerts was the pre-show entertainment. Sitting on the broad concrete and wood benches for hours before the music started, you could take the time to share in nature's wonders - and whatever you had brought along with you in your cooler or backpack. Probably this sense of community was felt most keenly in the marathon stand of dates that bands like the Grateful Dead and later Phish were able to block out during a long, hot summer.
But it wasn't always sunny. You could expect at least a brief afternoon shower, if not a full-on thunderstorm. Part of being in the middle of nature's wonders was this: "I wonder if I will be struck by lightning?" I never was. There are many stories of daring attempts to scale the rocks behind the amphitheater to get into a show for free - and just as many of not-so-coordinated folks who missed a show because they were being air-lifted to the nearest hospital.
The Beatles once played Red Rocks. U2 elevated it to a shrine. Acts as diverse as Indigo Girls and Incubus have played there, but the real attraction will always be the venue itself. I was part of a food fight with a few hundred of my closest friends at an otherwise forgettable Go-Gos show in the early eighties. There are other outdoor amphitheaters, most of them created with bulldozers and equipped with seats straight out of the local McDonald's - but there will only be one Red Rocks. Cheers.


Anonymous said...

Ballet Russe
Van Cliburn
Peter Paul & Mary
New Christy Minstrels
Anna Maria Albregetti
Sunrise Charch service before
going to as many Easter
services as possible


mrs. id said...

My 20th birthday... Manhattan Transfer... a blueberry cheesecake we passed around to the crowd behind us (it came back half an hour later with one bite left!)... and a full moon!

haywagon said...

I remember watching a guy who just couldn't wait in line take a pee in the sink at Winterland (The Who, 3/76) and thinking that was one of the most rock 'n' roll moments I was ever likely to witness.