The Fixx, Cleveland, Ohio – 10/4/84

October 4th, 1984. Cleveland, Ohio. The Fixx.

This was my first show. Technically, calling it “my first show” is a bit of a misnomer, as I’m not including the shows my parents took me to (of which I remember seeing Kenny Rogers, and also Lionel Richie w/ Tina Turner opening),  but the first show that I got to go to on “my own” was The Fixx on their 1984 “Phantoms” tour  stop in Cleveland, a distant 45-minute car ride from our Akron suburb. “My own” actually meant that my best friend Melanie and I had conspired to successfully persuade our parents to drive us up to the show – her parents drove us up and mine drove us back, if I remember correctly. I don’t remember if we had to bring him or if he was invited, but Mel’s little brother was also coming with us to the show. But still, we get to go to the show all by ourselves!  We were both fifteen, and this was the coolest thing in the world – we are going to a show!

BY OURSELVES (and little brother, but whatever)!

my ticket stub from the show

My ticket. I still have mine. Ahem.

I remember we got to the show, say goodbye to the parents and the three of us unload ourselves from the minivan and wade cautiously into the throng of people huddling in front of the doors of the grand Music Hall.

I’ve got my ticket in hand, Mel has hers, and her brother..her brother. Wait, where’s your ticket?  

What do you mean, you lost your ticket?

Somewhere from the handing out of tickets in the backseat and walking ten steps into the throng, little brother lost his ticket. Oh crap. Now what? No cell phones in 1984. I can already hear my mom: “I said you aren’t old enough to go” after she hears about this – not sure what his losing his ticket had to do with my age, but still, she’ll say something, I’m sure of it. This is bad. What are we going to do? Mel and I are not happy. Mel is furious, in fact. Still, we can’t leave him out front in the cold and go to the show by ourselves. But if we pool our money, we can buy him another ticket. But if we buy another ticket, he’ll be sitting somewhere totally different than us, which defies the “You three stay together” rule laid down by the parents. Speaking of, what are they going to say when they find out he lost his ticket? We dread facing them. Hi kids, how was the show? You look cold. Were you standing outside long?

What do you mean, you lost your ticket?

 Oh yes, this will end our concert-going days, fer sure, like totally!

I can’t remember if we cooked up this solution ourselves or if some veteran show goer or a worker person helped us out, but  we figured out we could go ahead and buy him another ticket, then he could sit with us in his originally assigned seat and all would be well. We were still totally upset at his uncoolness and the fact that the replacement ticket cost one of us a Fixx t-shirt. But at least we had a plan, and no one needed to freeze outside or miss the show. And thank god, the show wasn’t sold out. We headed over to the ticket window and bought little brother a replacement ticket.

We then make our way to our seats, little brother and his balcony ticket in tow, then settle in and check out the surroundings. Cute guy alert! Two boys – sitting right near us. They are talking to us! We lie and tell them we are 16. I remember they asked us if we liked The Smiths. Of course, yes, we love The Smiths! (And made a mental note to find out about this Smiths band, because these older boys who were talking to us were super cute and cool and were at a Fixx show, and The Smiths were from the UK, so what else did we need to know?) It was all a bit thrilling, this going to a show business, and the show hadn’t even started yet. And then the show started.

I can’t remember who opened for The Fixx that night, but I do remember that I was thoroughly impressed by The Fixx and I loved the show. And I loved the cute boys who flirted with us at the show. And I knew I needed to go to another show.

I don’t remember if we ever told our parents about little brother’s missing ticket.

Here’s a video from a different night on the same 1984 tour.

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Jane’s Addiction / Henry Rollins Band, Cleveland, OH – 11/27/90

Review, Jane’s Addiction/Henry Rollins Band
Cleveland Agora
27 November 1990

When Jane’s Addiction played in Pennsylvania a few weeks ago, they only performed eight songs, citing lack of enthusiasm on the part of the audience for the short set. Well, Perry and friends didn’t need to worry about the enthusiasm of the sold-out crowd at the Cleveland Agora Tuesday night.

The show began at 8:15, with Henry Rollins Band as the opening act. Rollins, formerly of Black Flag, and the rest of the band performed a tight, 45-minute set, consisting of mostly new songs with a few Black Flag songs thrown in for good measure. There was a high level of intensity throughout the set.  Rollins was like a rattlesnake, coiled to strike as he rocked back and forth on the stage. He did lunge at one of the several stage divers as he was stalking across the stage. Near the end of the set, Rollins finally asked politely that the audience stay off the stage.  The crowd’s enthusiasm was not dampened by the announcement, however; and the slam pit at the front of the stage kept the security guards busy all night long.

At 9:30, under the smoky haze of red and purple lights, Jane’s Addiction kicked into high gear. They performed several songs from their three albums, including “Whores” and “1%,” “Up the Beach,” “Obvious” and “Then She did…” Perry Farrell’s vocals were somewhat fuzzy during the first few songs, but that was quickly fixed by the sound men. There were a few other technical glitches during the show; however, they were due more to overzealous fans that to the band or the crew.

At one point, a stage diver (yes, they reappeared) took the mic with him as he leapt back into the crowd. This caused the show to stop momentarily while the crew retrieved the mic. Of course, once the mic was returned, the band responded to the crew with “Thank You Boys.”  The crowd obviously consisted of many fans as they sang along to “Standing in the Shower, Thinking” “Been Caught Stealing” “Ain’t No Right” and “Stop,” among others.

The lighting and stage set complemented the music of the band. Colored Christmas lights were strewn along the back of the stage. Along the sides, flowers and icons were overflowing from the shelves, which gave the whole stage the look of a shrine.

In all, aside from the distractions of a few overzealous fans, Jane’s Addiction delivered a very high-energy show.

– me

Here’s a video from a different night of the same tour:

The Sisters of Mercy, Cleveland, OH – 4/2/91

Sisters of Mercy ticketstub, 1991

The Sisters of Mercy – Agora Theatre, Cleveland OH 4/2/91

Who better than my 21 year old self to describe the night I saw The Sisters of Mercy, which, oddly enough, was exactly 20 years ago today? Here’s my journal entry from April 3, 1991, the day after the show.

Trav & I went to see The Sisters of Mercy show in Cleveland last night. We got to the Agora at 7:15ish I figured that since the show was general admission*, we could get close to the stage (good figuring). so here we were: diagram time!

stage and audience diagram

The masses, me & Trav, security

Very, very close to the stage! But it doesn’t end there, nope. The set ends, but they are going to come out for an encore, surely. But suddenly, I ask Trav if he wanted to hang out by the buses, as we might catch them before they got on. So we debated for a minute and left. We found a stage door and were hanging out momentarily when a woman roadie came out and she told us we could go in, the door was open. So Trav goes walking in like he owns the place. AND WE HUNG OUT BACKSTAGE FOR THE WHOLE ENCORE! We could see EVERYONE! One roadie asked us for our passes and I told him that woman told us we could come in and he said that was cool.

After the show, we talked to a couple more roadies and they told us about the other stage door where everyone would come out. So, we waited [I remember it was really super cold and we were freezing our butts off waiting around for ages] and eventually Andrew came out and walked right by us and didn’t even stop (which was disappointing). But we decided to wait for the rest of the band. So we were waiting. and waiting. This guy came out with a guitar and asked us if we were waiting for autographs. We said yeah, and he told us that he’d drop off the guitar and TAKE US IN TO MEET THE REST OF THE BAND!!!!!!!!! And he did!

Journal Entry #1, part 2, 1991

OMG!!!!!!!

So, we met the rest of the band and it was cool. We got a poster and autographs!

Dressing Room Sign, 1991

So we had a good time. It was long, but definitely worth it. The songs included

  • Dominion / Mother Russia
  • This Corrosion
  • First & Last & Always (opener!)
  • Body & Soul
  • Gimme Shelter
  • Amphetamine Logic
  • Vision Thing (last song)
  • Ribbons
  • Lucretia My Reflection
  • MARIAN!!!
  • Detonation Blvd.
  • Something Fast
  • I Was Wrong
Here’s a video from a different night of the same tour:

*general admission shows mean there is no assigned seating, and often, no seats at all.

The Posies, Dear 23

In the fall of 1990, I was the sole employee for an independently owned record store located in an unglamorous suburb of Akron, Ohio.  We were located in a long and slender shoebox-shaped space in an unremarkable strip mall located across the street from a televangelist headquarters that had a giant concrete tower and an all-you-can-eat buffet as defining characteristics.

One afternoon, I was opening the mail. We had received the usual miscellany — some invoices, some promotional material, some padded envelopes from labels. I used to open the padded envelopes first. Padded envelopes meant music – usually promos or advanced copies of artists that I could throw on while I opened the rest of the mail.  I opened an envelope from Geffen Records, selected an album by a band called The Posies, stuck it in the player and hit “play.”

Dear 23 was the name of that album, and it was played by me not just once, but repeatedly for hours and then days on end. I worked at the store from 11am til 8 or 9pm daily. By work, I mean “sit around all day, listening to music and turning people on to quality music.”  Dear 23 qualified as quality music (amazing music! genius music!) in my book and everyone needed to hear this. I think I played that album at least six hours a day every day for a month at least. I was in love with this album.

I wrote a review of the album for a local music newspaper:

Is there something in the water in Seattle, Washington?  Many bands from the Seattle area have recently found themselves releasing debut albums on major labels. One of the most promising of these new bands is Geffen recording artists THE POSIES.

Their album, Dear 23, is reminiscent of the music of The Hollies from the sixties. Lush guitars and striking harmonies are found throughout the album, and they sound extraordinarily good.

However, it is not only the music that makes THE POSIES sound so good, they have have a talent for developing dynamic lyrics. The lyrical diversity ranges from the frustrating hopelessness of “Help Yourself” to the gentle admonition in “You Avoid Parties.” Kenneth Stringfellow and Jonathan Auer have been able to unite the intesity of the music with lyrics that are equally intense.

So, if you’re looking for something new, check out this four-man band from Seattle. THE POSIES are a band that has captured the sound of the sixties, while adding a nineties flair.

The Posies came to town in December 1990. My editor called me a couple weeks before the show: “Hey, that band you like is playing at The Empire – do you want to review the show?” Do I?  “Yes, I do!”  I got the name of the label guy and reported to the venue the night of the show.  “Hey, do you want to meet the band?”  Do I want to meet the band? “Yes, I do!” And away we went to the green room, where I encountered four Posies and a deli tray.  And copies of the newspaper with my review in it. I believe the conversation started like this: “You’re the one who wrote that review!?” “You’re the ones who made that awesome album?” and then continued into one of those magical moments that happen when music lovers bond.  The time quickly came for the show to start – “We have to go play – are you going to stick around after the show?” Am I? “Yes, I am” and off we went, the boys headed to the stage while I positioned myself front and center. It was a fine show.

My review  follows:

I must admit, after listening to The Posies Dear 23 I was a bit apprehensive about seeing them live. Visions of Milli Vanilli were haunting me; I could only hope that The Posies were real.  With notebook and pen in hand, I stepped into The Empire Monday night, silently hoping The Posies wouldn’t let me down. As those of you  who saw the show (or heard it on WMMS) know, The Posies are no Milli Vanilli (THANK GOD!). The Posies are, in fact, one of the most powerful, energetic new bands I’ve seen in a long time.

Opening their set with “My Big Mouth,”  the band jumped into some of the more aggressive songs in their repetoire, including “Under Easy” and “Any Other Way.” In case anyone thought that the Posies are a one-dimensional band, Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow reassured the crowd that there is indeed “a kinder, gentler Posies.”  With this said, bassist Rick Roberts and drummer Mike Musburger left the stage, allowing Auer and Stringfellow to show their vocal and instrumental talents on “You Avoid Parties” and “Apology.”  The only disappointment was the lack of the acoustic guitars on these songs, which were used on the album. The electric guitars caused a bit of feedback on “You Avoid Parties,” but it was quickly fixed. The other band members returned for the rest of the set.

It was evident that The Posies really enjoy performing together as they joked and kidded around both with each other and the audience. They seemed as excited to be on stage as the audience was listening to them.

Afterwards, I sat and talked with Ken and Jon for a long time, and promised to keep in touch.