Favorite concert memories

Sept. 1, 2019
By Dale Kovar

I remember a comedian – (sorry, not sure which one) – pointing out that “Frank Sinatra can sing the same song for 40 years and everyone thinks it’s wonderful, but a comedian has to have new material every 15 seconds or he’s a bum.”

That is a valid point.

Unlike professional athletes who are usually retired by age 40, musicians are able to keep performing their craft into their 70s and 80s if their general health allows.

I don’t know the inner workings of the music industry well enough, but in conversations have speculated that many of the senior citizen singers who are still performing today are probably more profitable now than when they were popular 40 years ago.

Over the years, we’ve all had opportunities to attend some concerts.

Some would not live up to expectations, while others turned out to be way better than anticipated.

Here’s a trip down memory lane – which concerts I remember most and why.

You probably have your own favorites, or maybe you were even sitting (or standing) a few rows away from me at one of these:

• Styx at the Met Center (where the Mall of America is now), 1970s. This probably was the first “major” concert I ever went to. Tickets were something like $6 or $8, which was outrageously high at the time.

• Alice Cooper at the St. Paul Civic Center, 1978. Most memorable because this one got tear-gassed. Sitting in the upper deck, we thought the flash was part of the show. Then people down below starting rushing to the exits, and we couldn’t figure out why. Suddenly we knew why. We made it out safely and together, which at the time was quite an accomplishment.

• Rolling Stones at the Metrodome, 1989. A chance to see the classic band before they retired – and they still haven’t!

• Patty Loveless at St. Paul Civic Center, 1994. After developing an interest in country music, I got to see my favorite close up by arriving at the perfect time for general admission seating.

• Styx, 1997. Don’t remember which arena, but their Return to Paradise tour was better than the original.

• Dave Mathews Band at Principal Park, Des Moines, 2009. Combined the trip with a visit to our daughter in college.

• Alice Cooper at State Theatre, 2013. Bucket-list item to see him again while we’re both still alive (he’s still touring this year). Popped extra to get in the first few rows.

Do you remember Straight Up from the mid-1970s? They were a regional band that took showmanship to the next level at the time including a light show, costumes, and flashes of fire.

We made a point of always getting to their shows when they regularly came around. I still sometimes use the excuse when I don’t hear well because I spent too many nights with my head in the speakers at Blue Note.

Of course, any type of concert listing would be incomplete without including Winstock.

We are blessed and spoiled to have first-rate national artists in our backyard every year.

In trying to come up with my favorites from Winstock, I end up most remembering Neal McCoy.

His performances included claiming some other popular songs as his hits, a new rendition of the Beverly Hillbillies, and calling K102 live from the stage to request they play one of his songs.

Instead of mindlessly singing to a nameless crowd in the middle of somewhere on just another tour stop, McCoy did his homework and correctly acknowledged which years he had previously been here.

Most of all, besides singing his songs, he always put on an entertaining show – the type that when you’re leaving you say “That was really good!”

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