Remembering Arena Concerts

July 19, 2004

On Sunday night, I will be at the Madonna (Esther?) concert in Atlanta. I fully expect the most awe-inducing show that I've ever seen. I'm also pretty excited just to have a couple of days off work, and a weekend away from yard-slave laboring, even if it is just for a road trip to Atlanta.

Thinking about my upcoming road trip has also reminded me of some of my other concert experiences.

My first concert was as a young teen-ager. Bryan Adams. It happened to fall on a day that I had a dentist appointment. Apparently, the dentist had a slot or two open and had lost big in his regular poker game the night before. He convinced my mom that now was a good day to remove a couple of wisdom teeth.

This dentist was a real piece of work. When he put his hands in my mouth, I could taste the grits that he had for breakfast. I'm not making this up. I remember it well, because I hadn't yet acquired a taste for grits.

At the time, I didn't really know much about wisdom teeth removal. I understand now that you're supposed to get days of pity, and you're supposed to just lay around to convalesce and be waited on. On the other hand, I had concert plans. I remember going to Wendy's with all of my little friends before the show, and that eating was pretty torturous. Not only did my mouth hurt, but I was fairly nauseous too -- probably from the pain medicine. It actually crossed my mind at Wendy's to wuss out, have my mom come pick me up, and go home.

Instead, I stuck with it and went to the show. Although I tasted the blood from my mangled gums all night, it turned out that I was fine once I was there. It also turned out to be a pretty good show. Keep in mind, this was at least a couple of years before Bryan Adams switched to the "all crappy ballads" genre, so we were subjected to none of that.

During most of my high school and college, I was a big classic rock fan, so most of my concerts were washed up classic rockers singing their radio hits for the millionth time, just not as well as they once had. There is a long list of shows in this category. I can't say I just loved any of these, but I did like most of them. (In fact, Van Halen coming to Biloxi has its appeal to me now. Anyone want to go?)

Mrs. theskinnyonbenny got me going to more varied shows before we were married. We saw a few country music shows, Jimmy Buffet, and we were even the only ones between the ages of 10 and 50 at a Neil Diamond show at the Centroplex in Baton Rouge. (Don't laugh -- Neil was a hoot.) The best was probably an impromptu outdoor Tina Turner show at an amusement park. Tina's the best. I might write a whole entry singing her praises one day.

My favorites now are the big multi-act shows that they set up outside. New Orleans has a couple of them every year, in addition to Jazz Fest. The LSU students have been putting on a free show at the parade grounds every spring, and they have managed some really good acts out there. I guess that puts me about one step away from being one of those geezers who goes to festivals.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that we were supposed to be at a Madonna concert once before and had to miss it. I don't want to jinx this trip by rehashing the details, but perhaps I'll share the store when we get back. This one is going to be a whopper.