“Give me your best Luther tickets!”

May 4th

Last week’s post still haunts me. I knew it would. I feel the urge to amend, change, rearrange the entire list. Of course, there are many more albums and artists who influenced me. I was in Genaurdi’s yesterday and heard “Hungry Like the Wolf.” Oh, how I adored Duran Duran. Pouty Simon Lebon and guitarist John Taylor with his flippy, frosted hair. I am always pleasantly surprised by the music in Genaurdi’s and have been known to sing along in the cereal aisle. Unfortunately, Genaurdi’s was just bought by Giant. Lots of people are worried about change. I don’t care if your produce quality tanks, just keep piping the happy tunes. Make my day brighter with a friendly flashback and I will gladly ignore your browning broccoli crowns.*


Since we’re on the topic of music, I’ve decided to keep it going. 


What are the most memorable concerts or live music shows you’ve attended?


This was more fun and less pressure than last week’s list, which I can’t even talk about without cringing.


Bryan Adams 1984
“Oh, thinking about our younger years…” I thought “Heaven” was the best song ever invented and Bryan was surely singing about me and my math class crush. Though our “younger years” would have meant preschool. I bought one of those white over-sized t-shirts with big, block letters that read BRYAN ADAMS on the front and RECKLESS on the back. Then slept in it until the letters peeled off. More famous “cousins” of this look include the Wham! CHOOSE LIFE t-shirt from the “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” video (“You put the boom boom into my heart! Yeah! Yeah!”) and the FRANKIE SAYS RELAX classic.


Billy Joel 1985? (Too lazy to Google for accuracy.)
My parents gave my brother and me tickets in our Christmas stockings. It was very exciting, better than gum and underwear, but felt a little odd. Going to a concert with your brother is very nearly like going to the prom with your brother. We weren’t in a group. Just the two of us. Listening to music. Our seats were in the last row of the highest section at the (RIP) Spectrum. Turn around and touch the wall.


Genesis 1986
I went with friends and have zero memory. Must have been a blast?! If you went with me, please let me know. I’m putting it on the list because I miss Phil Collins’ voice.


U2 1987
This was a huge outdoor concert at (RIP) JFK stadium. It was complete anarchy. The fun kind. Went with my friend Heather. We abandoned our seats one second into the show and simply hopped onto the field. It was right before Jon and I started dating and I guess he was “into” me. Sigh. The feeling wasn’t mutual… yet. I saw him and quickly moved on, closer to the stage where I climbed on the shoulders of a very tall Upper Dublin swimmer. Ouchy. Feeling hurt and seeking revenge (?), Jon likes to brag that he made out with four girls that night. Lovely.


After the concert, I found my sister in the throngs of people heading to their cars. This was like a divine miracle in the age before cell phones. Going home, we sat in standstill traffic forever, but folks were happy, friendly and – if you were Jon – seizing the opportunity to grope one last stranger.


Cars 1987
Another band I miss. Went with Jon and his friends (of course) on our one month anniversary. This date I know for sure – November 17, 1987. We took the subway and thought we were so urban cool.


(RIP) Luther Vandross 1991
This could very well be the best experience on the list. My college roommate, Sarah, and I were sitting around watching tv one afternoon when we saw a commercial promoting a concert that was happening that night. Like in a couple of hours. We decided to drop everything and go. Just go. To see Luther Vandross!


First, we went to Houlihan’s where we were both waitresses. (I was the world’s worst, by the way, and didn’t last long.) We enjoyed our half price meals with lots of free extras. We then took our bellies-full-of-potato skins and drove straight to the arena. Sarah walked up to the ticket window and said, “Give me your best Luther tickets!” We grabbed our tickets, went inside and were swiftly led to the second row, center stage, surrounded by rabid Luther fans. No lie. The sequins from the back-up singers’ dresses fell on our laps and I stuck them in my pocket. It was outstanding. And so silly. And so perfect, start to finish.


The Super Bowl Half Time Show 2001
Jon audited the Ravens in Baltimore from the inception of the franchise. Every year, he would take the CFO golfing and somehow finagle a betting situation that resulted in Super Bowl tickets. Every year. I’ve always said, when it comes to sporting events, Jon possesses the perfect storm of drive and luck. We were at the baseball game where Cal Ripkin tied Lou Gehrig’s streak. We were there when the Phillies won the World Series. And we’ve been to many Super Bowls.


I’m not a huge football follower, so all the activities surrounding the game, and especially the half time shows, were my main focus. Until the Raven’s went in 2001. My devotion to the team had everything to do with their backstories. I knew that the punt returner’s infant son died in childbirth and that’s why he points to the sky after a touchdown. And how the quarterback was never expected to amount to much. Jon knows, if he wants me to care about a game of any kind, he needs to explain how this player or that goalie grew up in the projects or saved a houseful of abandoned pets from a four alarm fire.


So in 2001, I was an actual fan of the team… and then the (runner-up) love of my life, Sting, played the half time show… and then the Raven’s beat the Giants. Memorable indeed!


Kenny Loggins 2004
My one and only trip to Vegas. We flew out on Jon’s client’s private jet – and flew home sitting backwards on Southwest.


Jon had loads of business meetings so I hung out in our very posh room at the Paris Hotel until his boss’s wife coaxed me to attend a Kenny Loggins concert. It was a super intimate setting where you could yell out requests. “Danny’s Song!!” 


I enjoyed the venue, though it was awkward, but not impossible, to rock out. We sort of stood in front of our seats and swayed and clapped. I remember thinking, “If only I could throw back four to six stiff drinks, I’d boogie up a storm. Danger Zone!”


Bruce Springsteen 2009
I went to see Bruce Springsteen with my middle-aged sister, which is way better than a concert with your teenage brother.


It was an outdoor show on a beautiful night. Bruce is an incredible performer with true rock star stamina. He was about to turn 60 and referenced his age and the fact that his wife wasn’t there that night because his daughter was going to her prom. You know I appreciate personal tidbits! Mix that with good company and a gorgeous sunset… 


I really should go to more concerts.


And that’s all, though I’d like to give a shout out to the Mann Music Center and the (close to) 1,000 concerts I attended illegally. As mentioned in a previous post, my sister Gail would buy us beer and we’d sit on the hill outside the fence and listen to James Taylor, Neil Young, the Monkees, etc. Eventually the cops on horseback started patrolling the area and then the fun was kaput.


Final comment. At only 14, I did not attend Live Aid, but the concert was still a huge deal to all kids in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. I was at a swim meet for most of the day, eating jello, dreading my events, and listening to a crackly radio broadcast.


* I am 100% sure that grocery store chains have conducted research and held focus groups to determine the right music to appeal to their average shopper. Me, the tired mom. This is annoying and fantastic simultaneously.


It’s stuck in my head and should be stuck in yours, too.


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