I have saved almost every ticket stub from concerts I’ve been attending since 1974. I’m not sure why, except that behind every one of them is a memory. Most of them are good, none are profound, a few make for good stories after a couple of beers. Some of the memories have gone missing – I honestly can’t remember seeing The Boomtown Rats, but there’s a ticket stub in my dresser that says I did. So I’ve decided to write down what I do recall, before any more go AWOL. Consider this the beginning of an occasional series; I don’t expect any rhyme or reason to the order. I’m starting with this Kinks show, well, just because.
On April 9, 1977 I was a 16-year-old kid with a drivers license, a few bucks in the bank from a fast-food job and a whole lotta Saturday night staring me in the face.
I had somehow become a Kinks fan during the hardest years to become a Kinks fan, that period when Ray Davies insistently issued mini rock operas lampooning the British middle and upper classes. I’m yawning just thinking about it.
But Sleepwalker had come out a month and a half earlier, marking a return to less pretentious, guitar-driven rock. Trouble was, while I had been playing it incessantly for several weeks, it hadn’t yet grabbed my friends, at least not enough for them to head to the show that night.
I must’ve been moping, because my dad to urged me to head downtown by myself. I got to Orchestra Hall, only to find out the show had sold out. This was a problem because I didn’t have any actual cash with which to buy a scalped ticket. I tried cashing a check at a sleezy motel down the street, to no avail. I headed back to the hall and eventually convinced a guy to take a check for his extra ticket.
Here’s what I remember of the show itself:
Not only was it the first show I had ever attended alone, it was the first time I had ever been in Orchestra Hall. It was an odd venue for a rock show.
The opening act was surreal, a then unknown band called Cheap Trick. The crowd didn’t know what to make of them – two guys who looked like they belonged in a band and two more who looked like they belonged in cartoons. I think the audience thought they were mocking the Beatlesque pop they were playing. There was booing. I wasn’t sure what to think.
The Kinks’ set featured much of Sleepwalker, but it also introduced me to all the great early songs that aren’t You Really Got Me, All the Day and All of the Night or Lola. I remember being struck by the entire audience singing along to Well Respected Man and Tired of Waiting, among others. Ray Davies must’ve teased with the opening chords to Lola a half-dozen times before he actually played it. Dave Davies attacked his guitar like he wanted to kill it before the night was over. Or maybe he wanted to kill his brother – there seemed to be a good deal of tension between the two of them.
All in all, a very good show.