I saw Motley Crue about 4 years ago and was up pretty close -- in a private box at Journal Pavilion. Any concert venue with a corporate sponsorship must be automatically disqualified for this discussion, even though I had VIP passes courtesy of the corporate sponsor. There were a shitload of girls who treated the show like it was festival seating in order to be able to flash the boys in the band.
But, yeah, I know what Vance means when he's talking about going to a concert. I think the old Civic Auditorium in Albuquerque was one of the best venues for that sort of thing. I saw my first concert there (Seals and Crofts). One of the last ones there was The Pretenders (original lineup) in the early 80s. Totally awesome. Wikipedia says:
Albuquerque Civic Auditorium was an indoor arena located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. With a capacity of 6,000. The auditorium was notable for its innovative construction, as the dome was created by pouring concrete over sand. Afterwards, the hill of sand was removed. The venue opened on April 27, 1957, with the Albuquerque Civic Symphony playing the opening night. The Albuquerque Civic Auditorium was demolished in 1987.If you've not started the music player above, do it now. It's an entire set of the Grateful Dead live at Albuquerque Civic Auditorium on November 17, 1971. No, we weren't there, but it just reflects the spirit of the times. The poster at the top is from when Hendrix played the civic in 1970. Zeppelin played it a year earlier.
The best concert I saw there, and one that is probably tied for best ever (with Queen in Seattle, and Crosby Stills and Nash at Tingley Coliseum) was the night Vance and I went to see Brewer & Shipley (of One Toke Over The Line fame), Arlo Guthrie, and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (before they became a mediocre country act.) This was in the spring of 1976. I was on crutches, my leg in a cast from a hiking fall. There was this fellow there who took me under his wing (because he'd had a brother who had a bad leg or something). Anyway, he bought us beer and shared his weed. It was awesome. I remember Arlo singing "The Story of Reuben Clamzo & His Strange Daughter in the Key of A." The audience was singing the refrain, which was "Clamzo me boys Clamzo." (Yeah, whatever. For the entire lyrics, go to http://www.arlo.net) Anyway, it was just such an awesome evening, and the buzz was just right. I remember looking over to Vance and sharing this total look of "This is the absolute shits" Big old possum-eating grins pasted across our mugs.
We had to leave shortly after NGDB started their set. It occurs to me now that one of us was not supposed to be there. I’m thinking it was me, because The Jacqueline was the one who came and picked us up.
To me, the destruction of the Civic was some kind of an end of an era that, I'm sure, every generation encounters. The place hadn't run a concert in years, having been purchased by St. Joseph's hospital, who viewed it as prime parking space. Still, there was just something about that place, about being there in that atmosphere that gave you some kind of hope for your future. Like maybe this was what you'd do for the rest of your life—which at the time seemed like a pretty cool idea. I guess it still does. Who could complain about being in a dark place with 6,000 like-minded individuals, listening to—and singing along with—some of your favorite musicians, all the while drinking cups of beer and smoking dope. Sure, that may not be what life is all about, but if you could somehow do that the rest of your life, would it be all that bad.
And, you know, I guess in the end, the demolition of the Civic really did signal the end of an era. Not long after the auditorium fell to the earth,, an exotic, erotic dancer went and led me to Jesus; A true story, but one for another day.