Monday, December 29, 2008

Rock Concerts - Then and Now

Through-out the 1980's there were incredible line-ups of Hard Rock and Heavymetal bands playing in medium towns and large cities all over the USA. From sports arenas like Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis, Missouri with a seating capacity of about 9,000 to RFK Stadium in Philadelphia which attracted 100,000 concert fans. Many of the arenas and stadiums from the 1980's don't exist today. I remember seeing the Rolling Stones in 1981 at RFK Stadium. It was more than just a concert, it was a party and an incredible experience that would be difficult to describe in a brief blog entry. Van Halen on tour with Iron Maiden or the Rolling Stones on tour with Journey, Bon Jovi headlining in Europe in 1987 with the Scorpions; this made the concert experience exciting from beginning to end. Concerts were more live with less technology and more imperfection.

The concert experience today is like going to a major Broadway show in New York. You save up your money to attend this one big event. It is very organized, choreographed to perfection, incredible stage, sound and light effects with the latest technology. A spectacle and experience of being overwhelmed like being in an IMAX theater. The band line-ups in many cases are sub-par compared to the headliner as you wait with anticipation. The security is tight, you proceed to your assigned seating as the event unfolds. The economics for this multi-million dollar performance costs you an evening of several hundred dollars sometimes just for the tickets alone. This type of event is great in its own right.

For those who really enjoy rock music, having the ability to see several rock concerts during the year; going with your friends and being mesmerized by a Neil Peart drum solo of "WorkingMan" or a Jimmy Page guitar solo; Angus Young of AC/DC playing his guitar artfully non-stop with the legendary losing of 5 pounds of weight for each performance; and the unexpected fan participating by being pulled on stage with complete improvisation - this is the experience you remember forever with the music you wanted to listen to without all the studio and technology mixed in. You see real talent by the band and appreciate the music even more. Today's cookie cutter, boiler plate, blue-printed stage production does not produce the same type of experience as a band getting up there and playing their guts out to the audience.

Disclaimer: I know my description of today's concert is not true of all bands or all concert events however there is certainly a lot more of it today especially for the big name bands and artists.

Below is an example of Iron Maiden Tickets in 1987-1988 for about $15; and the concert for Metallica in 2009 for $200-$800 a ticket. This is not just about economics; it is about the whole experience of attending a Rock Concert back in the 1980's compared to today (then and now). I welcome feedback on your concert experiences.

Metallica w/ The Sword
Sat, Jan 31 - 2009 7:00 PM
Prudential Center - Newark, NJ
Machine Head
Tickets $200 - $800 each


The Knitter said...

I attended a few Stones concerts in my time and in 2007 they played Slane Castle in Ireland. I also saw them play Slane Castle in 1982 and neither concert was shambolic, though the '82 concert did look more 'off the cuff' in the selection of songs. In 2007 everything at Slane seemed to be planned down to the nth. degree. Both concerts were excellent and the Slane 2007 concert tickets cost less - but the burgers cost an arm and a leg ! Luckily I brought sandwiches.

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