Tag Archives: 1985 concerts

U2, March 2 1985, Los Angeles Sports Arena

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When principal Skinner said “Oh God, we’re at the corner of Cesar Chavez Way and Martin Luther King Boulevard” on The Simpsons the other night, I couldn’t help but think of this concert.

I went to this show with my brother. I was 18 and he was 16. We were living in San Diego and drove to the show on our own. Our directions for getting to the Sports Arena had us exit on Martin Luther King Boulevard, which we were naively surprised to find out was in the middle of a pretty, um, urban area. Unsure of where we were going, I pulled into a gas station to ask for directions.

In my memory, every single customer and employee at the gas station, as well as every passer-by on the street, was a black man wearing a shower cap on his head. I later learned that the caps were part of jheri curl maintenance but at the time had no idea what was going on.

You’d think that a man wearing a shower cap in public would look like a wuss, but somehow it made these guys look more intimidating to me. It was like they were so bad-ass that they could wear a ridiculous-looking thing on their head, practically daring you to laugh at them.

I made my brother get out of the car and ask directions.

The concert was great fun. It was a sold-out show, the first of three nights at the arena. I was a big U2 fan at the time, and Bono was years away from becoming annoying to me. He was still very earnest, of course, and when a male fan climbed on stage and was grabbed by security, Bono instructed the bouncers to let the fan approach him for a hug. Awww.

Here’s the set list, pulled off the Internet:

11 O’Clock Tick Tock, I Will Follow, Seconds, MLK*, The Unforgettable Fire, Wire, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Electric Co., A Sort Of Homecoming, Bad, October, New Year’s Day, Pride. Encore: Knocking On Heaven’s Door, Gloria, 40.

* It’s not true that Bono introduced the number by saying, “I wanna give a shout out to the men in shower caps on MLK Blvd.”

Bruce Springsteen, October 4 1980, Riverfront Coliseum, Cincinnati Ohio

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The first time I ever saw Bruce Springsteen perform wasn’t at this concert. It was at the sound check to this concert, a couple hours before showtime. My dad drove some friends and I from Columbus to Cincinnati for this, and I’m still not sure how it worked out that we got there so early and that we were allowed to go in for the sound check, but we did. Bruce and the E Street Band played three songs during the sound check, but the only one I’m sure of is “Growing Up.”

This show happened about a week before The River was released, and this was in the days before new albums would get leaked weeks or months before their release date, so the crowd mostly wasn’t familiar with the songs they played from that album. But it was a typical three hour-plus show, so there was no shortage of well-known songs, too.

Here’s the setlist, pulled from another site. Talk about ending strong.

Prove it All Night / Badlands / Tenth Avenue Freeze Out / Darkness on the Edge of Town / Wreck on the Highway / Jackson Cage / Factory / The Promised Land / Out in the Street / Racing in the Street / The River / Thunder Road / Cadillac Ranch / Fire / Sherry Darling / I Wanna Marry You / The Ties That Bind / Point Blank / Crush On You / Ramrod / Independence Day / Because the Night / Backstreets / Rosalita / Born to Run / Jungleland / Detroit Medley

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The River turned out to be a big hit for Springsteen, and he and the band came back to Cincinnati for another show nine months later on another leg of the same tour. That time the songs from The River were very well-known to the crowd, and when the band played “Hungry Heart,” Bruce let the crowd sing the whole first verse.

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 I saw Springsteen again in 1984, this time in Cleveland, as part of the Born in the USA tour.

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With that album also being a huge hit, Bruce again came back around for another tour the following year, and I saw him at Cleveland Municpal Stadium again.

While I was a big Springsteen fan in the early ’80s and enjoyed all of his shows, I really got turned off by the way he kept jacking up the ticket prices each year. If you look at these stubs, you’ll see that he charged $6.50 in 1980, $12.50 in 1981 and $15.00 in 1984. It’s not visible on the 1985 ticket, but he charged $24.50 for that show, which I thought was outrageously high. Of course, he’s charging upwards of $100/ticket these days.