Last Friday, I celebrated the anniversary of missing a Duran Duran concert in 1984. If my parents knew I would be live streaming a Duran Duran DJ set almost 36 years to the day, they might have acquiesced to my persistent demands to travel the 39.1 miles to the venue on a school night. This sixth grader may have lost that battle but the band and I won the war. They’re still making music and I’m still writing about it. I’ve taken the motto of “Always Go To the Show” to the extreme at times but here are three shows I’ll always regret missing.
Thompson Twins – January 5, 1986
Sorry, Howard Jones, someone is to blame for this one. Me. Not yet in high school, I was dependent on the parents to take me to shows and if my grades slipped, the concerts were on hold. Too much goofing around must have led to some B’s or maybe, gasp, even a B- so that semester in 1986 was a “no-concert” time of my life. Lesson learned but little did I know that Thompson Twins were close to the end of their imperial phase.
It wasn’t until 2014 when I finally saw Tom Bailey (the lone Twin) and heard the band’s incredible songs live. Bailey was playing a swimming pool at Mandalay Bay because, you know, its Vegas. Despite the hours standing in the pool, it was well-worth the wait. Even better, I stalked him earlier that afternoon and he kindly signed one of my vinyl albums. I’m sure he had better groupies in the 80s but at least he is back making music.
Cowboy Junkies w/Townes Van Zandt – May 13, 1990
This one hurts twice as much in retrospect. It would have been my first Junkies show and I was already in high school with car so I should have tried to attend. At the time, the venue was 18+ so I didn’t. Knowing the band now, I’m sure a wide-eyed fan hanging out near the stage door would have been snuck in out of kindness (they’re Canadian).
I wouldn’t have known Townes Van Zandt at the time but now I’m pretty certain he is one of the greatest American songwriters to have ever lived. His songs are full of wonderful sadness. If you want to cry, listen to his music. I never saw Van Zandt but his live album Live At the Old Quarter is the first record I’m saving in a fire. Missing a chance to see him will always haunt me.
I’ve made up for lost time with Cowboy Junkies having seen over 100 shows so this one stings a little less with time. I even made it to the same venue to see them in 1996. I took my mother and she fell asleep. To be fair, the band can play very quietly! After the show, I met the vocalist Margo Timmins for the first time. All these years later, I count her and the rest of the band as friends and seeing them in Chicago two weeks ago will be the last shows I see for awhile, I assume. Duran Duran and Bryan Adams have both cancelled in the coming weeks.
Duran Duran – March 27, 1984
Every viewing of Sing Blue Silver haunts me because I missed the band’s biggest tour. Those moments in popular culture are fleeting. Bands do not stay that important for long. Yes, U2 still fills stadiums but nothing would have compared to the shows supporting The Joshua Tree. The energy of that moment in time can never be re-captured once it’s loss. Duran Duran certainly never matched it again. But, I was only 10 so it wasn’t my time, yet. That would come in 1989 at the Miami Arena.
Everything I’ve read about the tour seems to be that the din of teenage fans drowned out the band. Even so, it would have been a special tour to experience. They were at the absolute peak of their popularity and when I finally saw them in 1989, it was a far different band and audience. If you were there in 1984, what do you remember most?
So, which concerts will you always regret missing?