concert memoirs pt. 12 – the waterboys, love & rockets, the jesus & mary chain & the fall

The Waterboys w/Figures

11/6/85 First Avenue w/John & Kelly Ticket Price: $5.00

This was one of John’s favorite bands. I liked them, but I wasn’t as into them as John was then. I really liked ‘This is the Sea’ (the album they were promoting for this show), but their first two albums (‘The Waterboys’ & ‘A Pagan Place’), I thought, had suffered from too many wordy songs with some awkward melodies mixed in with some good songs. ‘This is the Sea’ was a more complete and satisfying album.

We brought our friend Kelly along for this show. He had come along with us to The Red Hot Chili Peppers (First Avenue 11/21/84) show previously, but this time he was in for a much better show. The Waterboys were on that night. It was so good. What a great concert. Kurt Wallinger was with the band at that time and he really brought something special to their sound.

John told me that a couple weeks after the show he was hanging out with somebody, listening to the college radio when a Waterboys song played. That got John talking about how great the show was. As the song ended, the DJ came on and mentioned the recent show and stated that people were still talking about the outstanding performance. How true.

I don’t remember Figures that night, but it was probably the first time seeing them. John and I would see them a couple more times at the Cabooze or the Uptown Bar. They were a good live band with a little of the REM influence. One of the band members was fond of doing some very high jumps while playing.

Love & Rockets w/Crossfire Choir
12/9/85 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: $5.00

Opening bands at First Avenue usually didn’t attract much attention. Unless the band was pretty well known in their own right, spectators would tend to hang back, leaving the first fifteen or twenty feet from the stage fairly empty. People just didn’t want to commit to a band they weren’t sure of.

To be honest, John and I would do the same thing. This night, however, we ventured a little closer to the stage. I don’t remember if the band was any good. We’d never heard of them before or since. Yet, there we stood.

At some point, the lead singer offered a copy of their latest release to anyone who’d walk up and get it. John figured, “What the hell?” and he walked up and grabbed a copy. I don’t know if John has ever listened to it.

That’s about all I remember of the night. Usually, I forget the opening band, but this time I don’t have anything to relate about Love & Rockets. It’s not that I didn’t like the band, I must have lost those brain cells responsible for remembering that show.

The Jesus & Mary Chain
12-15-85 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: $5.00

This one. Oh, brother.

First of all, it was Sunday. Back then bars in Minnesota closed at 12 am on Sundays instead of 1 am. I know that you people in the bigger, more hip and happening cities probably think 1 am is too early, as well. Well, that the way it was. I think they go to 2 am now.

As I said, the place was going to be closing at 12 am and these twerps didn’t take the stage until 11:15 pm or so. That didn’t give them much time to play. And it seemed as though it was an awfully long time before they got onstage after the warmup act. Whoever they were.

These guys were supposed to be the second coming of The Sex Pistols, so maybe they were doing a punk thing by making us wait. Maybe they were upset that the bars closed so early. I don’t know.

When they finally started playing, two of the band members spent the entire show with they backs to us making their signature feedback sound while the lead singer droned on disinterestedly. The lead singer had a guitar draped over his shoulders, but he barely touched it. He’d strum the open strings here and there, not even bothering to play a chord. As far as I could tell, the guitar was more or less decorative.

They were bored. We were bored. It was over in less than 45 minutes.

The Fall w/Summer of Love
3/10/86 The Guthrie Theater w/John Ticket Price: $10.50

The Fall is another of John’s favorite bands. He liked the arty, deconstructive sound of bands like The Fall & Sonic Youth. I was more into melody, so I had a harder time with The Fall. But I still liked a lot of their stuff.

Also, the Guthrie just seems like an odd place to see a band. It’s probably just me. It was a bit more of an uptight environment. They wouldn’t allow us to dance in the aisles. We had to stay in our little designated seating areas. Of course, this was true of most of the other arenas, auditoriums and theaters.

We had to content ourselves with grooving at our seats. Not as much fun when John and I had become accustomed to seeing shows at First Avenue.

I don’t have much else to relate. It may have been the last time we would see Summer of Love and the cello gal, however.

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