concert memoirs pt. 4 – cheap trick, genesis & the clash

Cheap Trick

11/23/83 Orpheum Theater Intended w/John Ticket Price: $9.92

We didn’t go to this one. As can happen here in Minnesota, a sizable November snowstorm blew in and John didn’t want to chance it. It was awfully disappointing, but I understood. And it was a pretty big storm.

This was during my first year at art school. I hadn’t quite grabbed hold of the punk rock yet, but I was beginning to hear more and more of it. Anyway, the snow began falling during the afternoon class session. I remember my friends saying that it didn’t look good for my getting to the show. Of course, they turned out to be right.

Later that evening, John called me at home to break the bad news. The show went on without us. Rats.

It was the only time I’d ever been snowed out of a concert.

Genesis
2/7/84 St. Paul Civic Center w/John Ticket Price: $12.50

John and I were seated near one of my art school buds, Gene. He spotted us and came down to chat before the show.

The show kicked off and it was very entertaining. This was just as Genesis was becoming the Phil Collins Band, if you catch my meaning. So, they weren’t annoying yet.

Their lightshow was outstanding and blended well with the music. Phil alternated between playing the drums and singing at center stage throughout the show. He did spend more time up front, though.

I was impressed as hell when Phil got on drums and played along with the other drummer. The two were completely in sync. Amazing how musicians can do that.

Phil was doing the chat up the crowd thing and he started teasing the audience. He was asking if the crowd liked Country & Western music and, of course, they didn’t. “Really? Well, we’re gonna play some.” The crowd was aghast! But then to first notes of ‘That’s All’, their current big hit, began to play and the audience all breathed a sigh of relief, laughed and cheered loudly.

The Clash w/Ipso Facto
5/15/84 St. Paul Civic Center w/John Ticket Price: $11.50

Our first punk rock show!

The stage was moved up to about midway on the main floor and the floor was open so people could get down front for dancin’. Slam dancin’! More on that in a minute.

Ipso Facto was the opening act. They’re a local reggae group and they’re still going strong today. I didn’t know their material, but they were fun and did a great job warming up the crowd.

So, the slam dancing…

The Clash, or what was passing as The Clash in those days, consisted of Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon and two or three young punks. After Mick Jones and Topper Headon had left the band, it was a mistake for the band to continue as The Clash. They produced one more album after ‘Combat Rock’ and it has been justifiably forgotten. That said, however, I’m glad to have seen them or what was left of them.

Since it was an open floor situation, John and I managed to get pretty close to the front of the stage. The floor was crowded with leather, mohawks, anticipation, and two punk rock concert virgins who didn’t quite realize what they were in for. The band took the stage, storming up to the front, while blasting into ‘London Calling’.

That’s about as much as I saw before the punks began to move. The whole mass of humanity that we were caught in began to slam dance. We probably only got through half of the song before John fell to the floor. It had barely registered with me that John had hit the deck when he was back on his feet. He was down, he was up. That quickly.

John grabbed my shoulder, “We’re out of here!” he said. We moved to the seating section and watched the rest of the show from there where it was safe. It was just too soon in our punk rock experience for that level of slam dancing.

Later, Joe Strummer taunted those of us who sought the relative sanity away from the dance floor. John remarked, “Easy for him to say… He’s on stage.”

I didn’t know much more of their material than ‘Combat Rock’ in those days, so when they started playing ‘Clash City Rockers’ I thought they were breaking into a cover of The Who’s ‘I Can’t Explain’. Remember, I was a huge Who fan and I listened to all music through Who-colored headphones, so to speak. Still, the opening chords are remarkably similar to The Who classic.

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