I have spent a lot of time at rock and roll shows. Most of them have been big bands at big arenas. I'm not much of a club-show guy. I like me some pyrotechnics. I like me some lasers. I like it loud and I like me some greatest hits. I sing along. That's the way I have always been. The first big rock show I went to see was Elton John and when it was over my ears were ringing and my throat was sore. That was just about forty years ago. Since then I've seen all kinds of concerts, big names like Black Sabbath and J. Geils. I saw the Eagles. I saw Fleetwood Mac. I've seen the Electric Light Orchestra, even though I was told that they weren't really playing, just lip-syncing to pre-recorded tracks. I saw Boston. Twice. Many of these bands are now on the nostalgia circuit, playing smaller venues and trying to make the most out of the gas they have left in the tank. I confess that I am a little leery of checking out REO Speedwagon one last time just to hear them tear through "Ridin' The Storm Out," just to have that synapse tweaked one last time.
Then there's that category of groups and artists that I have made a habit of seeing each and every time they pass by: Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Bufftett, Barenaked Ladies. There are a few more, but now that it costs me a week's salary to get in the arena, I find myself wondering if it would really be worth the investment to travel down the road and stay up late to catch U2 on their latest tour. That used to be just the kind of show that would get me up and out, waiting in line, singing along, and paying through the nose.
The Who is brining their fiftieth anniversary tour through these woods in the next few months. A friend of mine has suggested that any tour they make now could be called the "Who's Left" tour, but since I have already a couple of Who ticket stubs in my collection, I don't feel the same urgency that I might once have experienced. I did manage to get myself out to see Sir Paul McCartney a few years back, which I have given myself permission to check off as my Beatles concert. That leaves me with the one, the only, the dinosaurs of rock, The Rolling Stones. In all these years and all those tours, I have never managed to find a way to sit myself in a stadium, arena or amphitheater where Mick and the boys were getting together for one last bash at world domination. Word is that they are out there again, right now. There was a lot of fuss made when they didn't manage to add a northern California date to their itinerary. If this were really a bucket list situation, I would make plans to travel to whatever outpost I could manage, and get my chance to say that yes, I have seen the Stones. I think about one of the worst days of my life, when I had a ticket to see the band, but I woke up as hung over as I had ever been and had to spend the day cleaning my parents' house which my friends and I had trashed the night before in a pre-show fest that would have made Keith Richards blush. They didn't hold the show for me. It happened without me. And I didn't bother to hold on to the untorn ticket. After all these years, it seemed like buying a ticket to see the Rolling Stones would just invite trouble. Maybe it's all about self-preservation. It's only rock and roll, after all, and I'm not sure if I like it.