Next up was The Stadium Tour on June 28. I caught this show with my friend Misty in Charlotte (also where I saw Tears For Fears), but rather than being at the PNC Pavilion, this one was at the Bank of America Stadium, where the Carolina Panthers play. I’d never been to the stadium, so I had it pegged as this super-huge facility where the third level (where our seats were), would be so high up we would only be able to see the stage on TV screens. In fact, the stadium is so well laid out, you can awesomely see the entirety of what would normally be the football field from where we sat. (Now I want to go back to see a football game!) The stadium opened at 3 p.m. Yes, 3 o’clock in the afternoon. We took an Uber downtown from our hotel and arrived around that time, got in line and got inside to our seats just before Joan Jett and the Blackhearts took the stage. She was just as awesome as I instinctively knew she would be. (It still made me a little bitter that a certain guy friend, my senior year of high school, even after being told point-blank that I wanted the album Up Your Alley for Christmas, got me Pat Benatar’s Wide Awake in Dreamland by mistake… Some day, I may forgive him for that, but since it has already been almost 35 years, no, probably not…) Next up was Poison, who, in my honest opinion, had more fun than any other act on the stage that day/night! They genuinely looked and acted like they were having an absolute blast being up there together, doing all of their big hits. The sound folks could have done a better job with Brett’s vocals, but you couldn’t help but have fun because it was so obvious that they were having fun! Next up were Motley Crue. They and Def Leppard are spending the tour switching off headliner duties. And that night, Def Leppard played last. I’ll be honest: I’ve never been a Motley Crue fan, and all of the reasons I never cared for them still hold true. In all seriousness, if Vince Neil didn’t have half-dressed girls pretending to sing back-up, and his tried-and-true friends/bandmates backing him up, he would have next to nothing to offer a crowd. His voice is better than I expected it to be. But he forgot entire sections of songs they were singing. (This was before the whole teleprompt controversy started – and my comment here is, you have rehearsals and a set list that isn’t changing that much from show to show – regardless of how many songs are in your catalog, you owe the audience the courtesy and respect of knowing what they paid to come hear you sing and delivering it. My two cents.) So I basically sat for most of that part of the show and just wished for it to hurry and be over. I will say, however, that seeing/hearing Tommy Lee play piano on “Home Sweet Home” was pretty awesome! He had not been playing full shows up until that night in Charlotte due to injuring some ribs just before the tour started. And he really showed up and gave it 110% that night. (I’m betting that he was on some pretty good pain meds, but the man worked through it!) Then came Def Leppard. Be still my heart! I jumped on the Def Leppard bandwagon when Hysteria came out. They were one of my cousin Missy’s favorite bands, and up until then, I refused to like any band that Missy liked. (I had to swallow my pride on Bon Jovi over that, too, and a few other hard rock acts that I grew to love in time.) Kirk Wolfe exposed me to that album on the ride home from school on the bus my junior year. I begged him to make me a copy of it and he actually let me take it home and dub my own copy of it that night. I wore out that cassette and two copies of the actual cassette that I purchased over the years. That was the album after Rick Allen, the drummer had had his car accident and lost his left arm. By then, we had MTV on the God-Forsaken Hill. And I remember being absolutely mesmerized by him drumming with that right arm and his feet. I’ll say it: I thought he was so sexy! Sixteen-year-old Chrissie often said, “If he can drum with his feet, just imagine what else he can do!” I thought he was just invincible, being able to overcome a major disability like that! And that night in Charlotte, he gave a drum solo that had me on my feet, yelling at the top of my lungs. He is still so absolutely amazing a performer and person! It had threatened to rain all day, but it held off until the next-to-last song, “Love Bites,” starting near the beginning of the song and coming down steadily throughout it, and into the beginning of “Photograph.” Almost no one left, though. And the band played on. Def Leppard left the stage at about 11:00 p.m. I can honestly say that it was the longest concert I have ever attended. But so incredibly worth it!
Remember, if you will, I wrote a blog around this time last year about this show being rescheduled for a second time in two years, thanks to covid. At that point, Russ and I had tickets to see the show in Nashville. After the second rescheduling, though, we decided to turn in the tickets and get our money back. A decision that I kinda hated myself for from the get-go. I just felt like it wasn’t in the cards for some reason. And I’m thrilled that I didn’t see the Nashville stop! By the time they got to Nashville two nights later, where several of my friends were seeing the show, Bret Michaels had gotten sick and couldn’t perform, so Poison announced that they would not be performing when it came their turn to go on-stage. As I said to my friend several times during the show in Charlotte, “For so many reasons, I am so glad that you got a divorce and I got this ticket!”
The next week, my friend Becky and I drove to Greenville, South Carolina, for the MixTape Tour. We had an early dinner with one of my Duranie friends who lives down there, Pam; it was a total blast meeting her in person for the first time, and being able to talk straight talk about Duran Duran with no judgment. Becky and I also opted for an Uber from our hotel to the venue. The lineup was another stellar one: New Kids on the Block, En Vogue, Salt N Pepa, and Rick Astley. NKOTB were my very first concert, back in August 1989, at the West Virginia State Fair, sitting so far away that you could barely see them. I was with Pam Smith Waddell and Melissa Nickels Stacy. We were all in love with them. For the MixTape Tour, though, I was particularly thrilled to see Rick Astley. I have always loved his voice and thought that his talent was highly underrated in the 80s. Unlike the acts in The Stadium tour, the four acts in the MixTape Tour interacted with each other and used the same sets. There were two stages and our seats were three rows off the floor, situated between the two stages – not bad at all! But get this! NKOTB pulled a Rick Springfield! They actually walked out into the crowd, took selfies with people, shook hands, etc. I was astounded! At one point, Danny Wood (who was always my favorite back in the day), was about eight feet away from us, just mingling and having a blast. And later, Jonathan was almost within arm’s reach and stood there hanging out with the crowd for most of “Tonight.” En Vogue and Salt N Pepa all performed magnificently, even doing a song together. And, Rick Astley was indeed wonderful! In fact, I was stunned, but overjoyed that the last song performed was all four bands coming together onstage and doing “Never Gonna Give You Up,” a surprise since NKOTB were the headliners, not Rick Astley. It was definitely the highest energy I’ve ever encountered in a concert. And quite possibly the loudest show I’ve ever been to. I honestly couldn’t believe the screaming. (You couldn’t pay me to go on an NKOTB Cruise for that reason alone – and, hello, crazy women EVERYWHERE vying for the attention of those poor five guys!) Another great show during the Epic Summer of Music Concerts!
Next month, Russ and I see Keith Urban back in Charlotte at the PNC Pavilion. That will wind down the Summer shows, as I did manage to sell the Duran Duran ticket to Merriweather Post Pavilion for my birthday. More on what I’m doing instead in next month’s blog posts.