Let me preface this by saying that I have never
been as impressed by
most artists' live performances as I have been
with their studio work.
It has been rare for me to see somebody as good
live as they are in the
studio. Full disclosure and all that...
I have lots and lots of concert memories - even
a few from some bigger tours!
This is about the time I went to two Rolling
Stones concerts in one year!
The year was 1981. The Stones were promoting
Tattoo You, and had a run
at a bunch of stadiums across North America.
I was living in the Toronto, Ontario area (co-op
university program - 4 months
working in Toronto, 4 months school in Waterloo
[about an hour out of Toronto]).
A friend of a friend had a ticket and couldn't
make it to the Buffalo, NY show,
so I took it off his hands (for about $25 or
I didn't have a car at the time, so I went down
to the bus station and
bought a ticket to Buffalo. I was going
to make it to the bus station,
and then take some form of transit to the stadium
(remember, I'm living
in Toronto - which has one of the best transit
systems in the world).
Along with, I found out, just about everybody
in the bus. I also found
out that quite a few people were holding (and
a number of them were
smoking!) some of Gawd's flowers on the bus.
But not everybody.
The bus pulls up to Customs, and a couple of people
get out with the bus
driver. The Customs guys come in and tell
everyone: "We know you're
holding. Leave your stuff on the bus, and
you'll get to the concert."
Well, I'm here to tell you, not everyone took
heed of the warning, and
not everyone got back on the bus. But I'm
also here to tell you that at
least one person made it through with some contraband.
I had brought an
eighth of an ounce of really good hash with me,
and I also had some gum.
I won't get into the details, but you don't need
to be Columbo to figure
that one out. Problem solved!
Once we got to the bus station, we found out it
was a half hour cab ride
to the stadium. Five of us piled into an
old Checker cab for the ride
to the show. We got out to a sprinkling
rain and sounds of music from
Rich Stadium in Buffalo. The opening act
(George Thorogood and the
Delaware Destroyers) were entertaining us on
our way in. I finally made
it into the stadium just as Thorogood was ending
his set. Damn! And
the rain was coming down a bit harder.
I was bopping around the stadium
corridors, peeking out into the stadium from
different vantage points as
I went around the venue. I finally make
it to just off the side of the
stage, and as I'm walking out, the rain stops
like somebody turned off
the taps and the sun comes out. 50,000
(?) people start yelling for joy
at the top of their lungs, and Thorogood comes
out, screams 'YEAAHHH!"
into the mike, and plays a twenty minute encore.
I kept checking things out (this was one of my
first big concerts with a
name band headlining) and eventually made my
way down to the playing
field. I kept wandering around until I
found a hippie circle whose
aroma was appealing to me (cough). I parked
it next to some guy wearing
a Woodstock Two t-shirt (who also claimed to
be at the original Woodstock)
and a fantastic looking pipe and partied my way
through Journey (not at all
impressed with their performance) and the Stones
(Ronnie Wood impressed
me the most, Mick couldn't hit the high notes
by then, and Keith and Billy Wyman
looked like they were phoning it in when I could
tear myself away from the
party inside the circle at the party long enough
to focus on the show).
The sheer size of the event was something new
to me - it seemed to me to
make it harder for the performers to connect
with the audience. And there
was a lot going on in my personal experience
at the show - new people focused on
Eventually I found out that one of the people
I was partying with was
from Toronto, and had driven to the show!
I happily got a ride back
with him, where we had to dump a little nubbin
of my good stuff on the
side of the road (that I was unable to finish)
before we got to Canada.
It's still pretty much the only piece of hash
I've seen on this side of
the border (not that I'm looking [cough])...
Anyways,... I notice that (i) this has gotten
quite long, and (ii) I
have spent a considerable amount of time on it.
This all took place at
the end of September 1981. The rest of
the story is about the other
Stones concert I went to later on that year.
To be continued...
(: Tom :) the Pillar in Pontiac
still desperately clinging to being included
in the unemployment stats
but soon to be part of the 10% that aren't officially
P.S. If anyone else out there remembers
a goofy overweight Canadian
with glasses and a goatee wearing a (!) Confederate
flag t-shirt and
smoking Malboro menthol cigarettes (amoung so
many other things) on the
fifty yard line at that concert, please feel
free to enhance my recollections...
We left our story with Your Humble Narrator comfy
and safe back at
school (in Waterloo) after getting an unexpected
ride back from the
Stones concert at Rich Stadium in Buffalo, taking
the transit system to
the bus station, and the bus back to my dorm
room in Waterloo.
At the time, I was also doing a bit of deejaying
at the University of
Waterloo Radio station. I did a lot of
fill in and graveyard shifts,
and my biggest fan was the beautiful young lady
who worked at the local
all-night mini-mart. I managed to find
out that she was a big Stones
fan, got into the local Ticketmaster outlet (you
couldn't get tickets
online through the internets like those young
whippersnappers do today),
gave myself a big twenty-first birthday present*,
and got two tickets to
I was living in a co-ed dorm house on the university
grounds with a
number of friends that I had known for a couple
of years, and was at the
point of my life where a vehicle of my own was
but a distant dream, and
I had no credit to rent a car.
A young lady who I had been friends with for a
bit had a Plymouth Volare
and let me borrow it for the day (I was not very
specific as to where I
would be going, just that I needed to use the
car). And I had managed
to secure another little chunk of fantastic Canadian
hash for the trip**.
Well - this was the end of November / beginning
of December in the Great
White North. I awoke to about a quarter
of an inch of ice covering the
vehicle, and slippery roads (with more freezing
rain) along the way. It
took me an hour or so to thaw the car out and
get enough ice off the
windows to be able to see enough to drive.
I picked up my friend, and
off we went down the 401 to Sarnia / Port Huron,
and then to the
(relatively new) Pontiac Silverdome.
I won't go into the gory details of the seemingly
endless drive through
the fog and sleet on the way to the border, except
to mention that we
were enjoying a quiet bowl on the road when we
saw some flashing lights
in the rear view mirror. We slowed down
and gently eased over to the
side, thinking that we were in for a different
sort of adventure - only
to watch the occifer keep tearing down the road!
After taking some
preventative measures to calm my nerves a bit,
off we continued on our
We sailed through the border, and started on our
way to the Silverdome.
It was about an hour and a bit according to my
through some unfamiliar territory for me.
After two and a half hours of
driving, I finally broke down and stopped at
a home with signs of life.
We went into a couple's house, sat down, had
a drink (non-alcoholic),
and found out that we had almost made it to where
we wanted to go - I
zigged when I should have zagged - and got some
quick directions to the
This time I got to the show before it started.
We had nosebleed seats
with a pretty good view of the whole stage, and
a little dance floor
right in front of our seats. We settled
in, waited for the familiar
smells to commence, and joined in when we felt
the time was right.
Iggy Pop and the Stooges opened the show.
Iggy did a tight twenty
minutes or so, but things looked kinda choppy
(like old time movies)
while he was on the stage. About five minutes
after he went off,
somebody came back on stage, went up to the mike,
and said "Iggy and the
band would like to thank the audience for..."
and started listing all of the
stuff that people had been throwing at him and
the band while they were
performing. Quite an impressive list (with
a lot of the usual naughty things,
lighters, key chains, etc. etc. etc.) that went
on for almost a minute.
And now I knew why things looked so funky during
A few minutes later I saw the best of the six
performances I saw on this
tour. Carlos Santana took the stage, and
for almost an hour, you could
hear nothing but the sweet sounds of that band.
Usually, there's a hum
of conversation even when the best bands are
on stage - lots and lots of
other things are going on during that performance
to keep it alive. Not
when Santana was on. The standing ovation
was thunderous; the encore
was magnificent***, and it was on to the facilities
and the beer vendors
to load up for Mick and the boys.
All three bands had to pre-setup some of their
stage props before any of
them started playing, and a lot of the stuff
that was in the background
now suddenly made the stage much bigger than
it was for the first two
acts as it same into use. They had runways
going out towards the seats
on either side of the stage, and occasionally
Mick or Ronnie Wood would
run out to get the crowd worked up. I remember
that gag with the
buckets, and the confetti going out into the
crowd the first time, and
somebody getting doused with water the second
I also remember that most people were just sitting
in their seats for
most of the Stones' performance. Well,
the young lady who came to the
show with me wasn't in the mood to sit down -
in fact, she was in a
dancing mood. Remember that little dance
floor I mentioned earlier?
Well, we were bopping throughout most of the
It was the funniest and most amazing time, during
After a bit, people started yelling at us to
sit down. But Mick and the
boys saw a lonely couple out in the sea of people
dancing their hearts
out to the music, and every once in a while it
seemed like they were
grooving on us grooving on them. Somebody
from the band (usually Mick
or Ronnie Wood) would come out on the runway
towards our zone, and wave
to us. Everybody in our area would immediately
get up and start cheering
themselves hoarse. Then the band member
would go away, and everybody
(except the two of us) would sit back down.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
The ride home was relatively uneventful - the
ice had gone away, we
sailed through the border again, and the ride
home was much quicker and
less hurried than the ride there. I returned
the keys the next day and
went on my merry way.
Eventually I got raked over the coals when my
school friend found out
(more or less) what I was up to - but it's always
easier to ask
forgiveness than it is to ask permission, no
life forms were injured in
the course of our adventures, and it sure makes
a good story (and a
great memory). No names were used to protect
the participants, but I
would love to hear from anybody involved in this
one again (after almost
thirty years! Damn I'm old...), especially
the good samaritans who
calmed us down and directed us to the Silverdome
on time for the show.
For all I know, they could be just down the street
(these days I don't
live too far from where all this took place)
and I would love to say
thanks after all these years.
Well - that's it for this chapter of the Tales
of the Funny Farm****. I
hope you and the rest of the Hammerheads enjoyed
this trip down
nostalgia lane. Until next time...
(: Tom :) the Pillar in Pontiac
slowly being ground into the dust of the Bush
* - my b-day is the 22nd of November, but the
tickets were for a week later.
** - everyone was smoking everywhere at the time
- both myself and my
companion, as well as the lovely lady who lent
me the vehicle, were a
pack-plus a day. And I imported Cowboy
Killers (Marlboro Reds) from the
States when I went to visit my family in metro
Detroit. At the time, I
was rolling my hash with tobacco into doobs,
or using a pipe. The smell
was somewhat camouflaged due to these factors,
and was (and is) much
safer in terms of noticeability than smoking
Gawd's flowers as far as
*** - I have no idea what songs he played other
than the hits - which
were pretty much all I knew of Santana's music
before the show.
**** - maybe I should think about writing a book,
now that I'm falling off
the employment charts? I'm not sure that
starving writer would necessarily
be the best choice for a change of career, but
what have I got to lose?y,
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