First Concert

morrissey cityscape

By Gabrielle. Image spotted on Eric Alber’s post about Morrissey’s Autobiography.

What a funny day it’s been. We had a random power outage for most of the work day, leaving me with nothing to do but dishes. Hah! So here I am, minutes from the end of my work day, and happily sitting down to write a post. Because there’s a question I’ve been curious to ask you all day long!

This morning, I saw a photo of Morrissey in somebody’s Instagram stream. And when I saw it, it sparked memories of my first concert: Morrissey performing in Las Vegas. I was 16 years old.

I guess when I say concert, I should clarify that I mean first rock concert, the first concert I bought tickets for myself. I’d certainly been to other musical events prior to that concert, but this was different, felt much more independent, and was the first of dozens and dozens of concerts I’ve attended through the rest of high school, college, and throughout my whole adult life — Nirvana and They Might Be Giants and Jane’s Addiction and Brandie Carlisle and Justin Timberlake and The Cure and The Killers and Sufjan Stevens and Sting and James and on and on.

For that first concert, I went with my friend Robyn. Las Vegas was about 2 hours away by car, and we drove there in Robyn’s car with my older brother Josh and two other boys from school — Kerry and AJ. The concert was on the UNLV campus and the auditorium was maybe 75% full. I was blown away. I hadn’t really known what to expect, but I loved it. Once the concert was in full swing, everybody left their seats and moved as close to the front as they could. At one point, an audience member jumped on stage, past security, and hugged Morrissey while he sang! From that moment on it was a steady stream of people hugging Morrissey — some with tears running down their faces as they came face to face with one of their idols. My brother and Kerry and AJ all hugged him, but Robyn and I were too chicken to jump on stage.

My older brother had introduced me to the music of Morrissey and The Smiths when I was in 6th grade, so I’d been listening to their music for many years, and this concert felt like such a prize. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was!

After the concert was over, it was late, but we were all awake as can be and drove back to St. George that same night.

Thinking about that concert made me wonder: What was your first concert? Was it rock, pop, singer/songwriter? And have you been to many concerts, or few, or none at all? How old were you when you went? Was it what you expected? I’d love to hear!

P.S. — When I was at dinner in Washington D.C. — the trip where I lobbied Congress — we talked about this same thing and it was so fun to see if that first concert reflected the current personality of the person who attended.

129 thoughts on “First Concert”

  1. What a great story! Morrissey is an excellent first concert. I was (and still am) a huge fan of him and The Smiths, but I never got to see him live.

    My first real concert is more funny than anything. It was in the 8th grade (so…1987/88?). I went with some friends to see Cinderella and Whitesnake. Gah! We were in the throws of hair metal bands in the mid-80s, and I’ll admit I was in it too. I wasn’t really a big fan of theirs, but I thought it sounded fun and interesting…and it most definitely was!

  2. My first concert was in 8th grade. A friend and I went to Adam Ant (the Romantics opened). This would have been in ’83 or ’84. My favorite concert, though, had to be seeing the GoGos when I was in high school with my 3 best girl friends. It was an outdoor concert and we had such a blast!

    1. Adam Ant (with Romantics opening) was my first concert too! It was an hour away and my friend and I conned my brother (and obviously our mothers!) into driving us. Such an amazing memory :)

      1. Love hearing that other’s first concert was Adam Ant! He was mine too…but perhaps a year earlier. Scandal was his opener. Got the chance to see him again at a local college (Brandeis) a year later. INXS opened, and my thirteen year heart could barely stand it. Michael Hutchence, three rows away…swoon.

  3. Fun post! My first rock concert was Adam Ant. My worst decision about a concert was when Boy George and David Bowie were playing on the same night…and I chose Boy George. D’oh.

  4. I love this topic! The first concert I went to with friends was INXS. I was 17 and it was a few weeks before I started college. I bought a concert t-shirt and wore it the day I moved to campus – what an excellent ice-breaker! I adore going to concerts, although I see far fewer now than when I was younger.

  5. My first big concert was Huey Lewis and the News! With my parents! ha. I think I was still in elementary school. I remember there were some people smoking pot near us and I had no clue what it was and kept asking my parents about the “weird smell”.
    One of the best and more recent concerts I went to was Massive Attack at the Greek Theater in Berkeley. Such a great venue to hear music!

    1. Small concerts feel so special and Sarah McLachlan is such a lovely singer. I saw her perform in Salt Lake City when I was in college — but it was a huge venue, not intimate at all.

  6. I didn’t make it to a rock concert untilI was married! Our college cmaus had Arcade Fire and it was amazing! They were switching instruments anand just had such great energy.

  7. my first concert was morrissey, too! he played at the salt palace my freshman year at byu on halloween night. it was something that i will never ever forget. no hugs on stage at that concert, though. :(

  8. My first real concert was Sinead O’Connor at the Spectrum in Montreal. She was touring The Lion and the Cobra and had this shy/fierce presence. I was on a high for days after.

    1. I grew up in South Africa during apartheid – when no international acts would come near us – so when I was in my final years of high school and apartheid was abolished there was a flood of stars – the first concert I went to was with my whole family – and it was Paul Simon, the next week, we went to Bryan Adams. When South Africa first became established on the tour circuit – it was huge – we went to everything that came, no matter what it was. I loved it all. sting, U2.

      Sometimes I get quite sad thinking that that stage of my life is gone, not much time for rock concerts with two young kids – but I’m sure I will be chaperoning them one day soon.

  9. My first concert was Bush in 1996/97-ish. I saw them in Oslo when I was 16, and almost died of happiness when the drummer waved at me (it was TOTALLY at me, I swear!) from stage.

  10. Oh!! Seeing Morrissey was not my first concert — that would be Death Cab for Cutie my freshman year of high school in the mid-2000s, a magical experience in itself and the first time I realized there were grownups “like me” in the world with my interests and fashion and taste — but I got to see him my senior year of high school and oh my GOODNESS I can still feel the chills I felt when he ran on the stage and launched into “First of the Gang to Die.” I actually started screaming uncontrollably, just like a Beatles fan in the 60s, which was very strange for my shy high school self!

    What a happy memory — thank you so much for making me remember it.

  11. Haha:) Thinking about my first concert makes me laugh. I saw Michael Bolton, and Celine Dion opened for him. I think I was 11 years old and my older sister took me. I also saw Morrissey a few years ago with my husband. He was awesome!

  12. Great topic, concerts are the best. My first real concert was a short-lived band called Belly my freshman year, and it started an ongoing love affair with live music. My first three kids each attended a concert in-utero: Cake, U2, and Barenaked Ladies (at 9 months!). Most recently we saw The Avett Brothers, and we’re excited to see Nickel Creek later this month.

    1. Feed the Tree by Belly is one of my favourite songs :)
      My eldest also went to a U2 concert in-utero! I’d been trying to get tickets to see them for about 15 years but a combination of living in an Australian city they never visited and their stadium tours in other Australian cities selling out within minutes meant I kept missing out. When I finally did get to see them all of those pregnancy hormones (I was about 8 months) caused me to burst into tears when they appears on stage and I spent the first few songs sobbing! I must’ve looked a mess ;)

      1. Nickel Creek is fantastic in concert. I saw them live at Chautauqua Park (Boulder, CO), which was a perfect concert setting. My parents went with my sister and I, and it was such a fabulous music experience. They just started touring again!

  13. Hall & Oates was my first concert – I was 8 or 9? It was a great memory and their music reminds me of a happy childhood. :)

  14. My first was The Jets (from the 80’s) at a local state fair! I think I was in the 6th grade. Wish I could say it was Morrissey! : )

  15. My first concert was White Snake…in 2003 hehe. I was 21. My husband (then dating/boyfriend) took me when they were touring with other 80’s rock bands in Vegas. It was a blast because I love 80’s music.

  16. Oingo Boingo at the tiny concert hall at the Air Force Academy when I was 14! My dad was a young father, loved new music, and used to take me and my brother with him on Sundays when he searched the stacks at the record store. I still remember pulling my chin up over the edge of the record bins, watching him flip-flip-flip through the weird and mysterious covers to find something interesting. I love knowing that I saw Danny Elfman onstage — what a composer he became!

    1. What a cool dad. I would have loved to see Oingo Boingo. Another band I didn’t get to see before they broke up, but wanted to, was Echo and the Bunnymen.

      1. Echo and the Bunnymen are touring Europe this spring :D
        My first concert was Jethro Tull on the Thick as a Brick tour. yeah I’m old, still love going to concerts. Already have my tickets for Tori Amos this fall.

  17. First concert – Duran Duran. Erasure opened. For a girl from a tiny town the energy was magical.

    I would have been overwhelmed and thrilled to have seen The Smiths in the 80’s. Unfortunately Moz never toured close enough to my tiny Midwestern hometown. I have since been lucky enough to belt out Throwing My Arms Around Paris from the 3rd row and have tickets to see him again in a few weeks.

    We *love love love* music and attending concerts as a family. Some of our very best memories are about the shows we went to together.

  18. James Taylor. I was 13 and I went with my whole family to the great outdoor amphitheater known as The Gorge at George, WA

  19. Pink Floyd in the 90’s for their Division Bell tour. I was in junior high and a friends dad had got tickets for them plus an extra one so a friend could join. We lived on LA and drove down to San Diego for the concert. He drove us back that night. It was totally surreal! My second concert was a Grateful Dead show in Oakland a few months later with my uncle. I’ve been pretty lucky with my music influences growing up!!

    1. Grateful Dead! I saw one of their last concerts. It was in Salt Lake City. We bought tickets from scalpers and they all promised the tickets were on “Jerry’s side” of the stage.

  20. I love this topic! My first was Steve Miller! But a couple years later (1992?) was Morrissey at Meadowbrook in MI. It was awesome! Also saw the GoGos and Erasure and INXS. ALL great bands. Best concert EVER though was the Strokes.

  21. Mine was U2, I think it was 1985? I was 14 and I was blown away. I’m not a big fan anymore, but I definitely still have a soft spot for them. I’ve been wondering what my own 14yo is going to end up seeing for his own first concert! I hope it’s not someone lame!!

  22. My first concert was seeing Ingrid Michaelson play in Montreal. ( It was so much fun and I think I cried!

    Since then, I’ve seen Tegan and Sara twice (once in New Brunswick, Canada, and once in Beijing!) and I’ve seen The Lumineers (in Beijing!). I’m from a small town, so moving to Beijing has opened some concert doors for me haha

    I really want to see Mumford and Sons and Joshua Radin!

  23. Oh, what a wonderful first concert for you! I saw Morrissey in Sydney around 2002 and he is such a fantastic performer. So melodramatic and over the top! He was carried out onto the stage and laid on the floor to start the concert while fans in the front row threw gladioli at the stage! I wonder if that still happens… He’s playing in San Jose next month but seeing as it’s only a week after I’m due to have a baby I think I’d better give it a miss :( You should definitely go though and take the kids!!
    I wish I could say that my first concert was someone as amazing as Morrissey but alas it wasn’t. Growing up in country Australia there weren’t any opportunities to go to concerts until my family moved to the city when I was 17. The first concert I went to was a Cypress Hill & Ice Cube double bill with my new hip hop loving neighbour. Not really my thing but it was entertaining.

  24. My first concert was Dave Matthews around 97 or so, when I was 19. My date smoked a joint as it was passed through the crowd, and my little innocent (judge mental) Mormon heart thought that was about the worst possible thing in the world. That’s my biggest memory from the night!

  25. Mine was Ringo Starr and his all star band. But that makes me sound much older than I really am! It was 1998 and I was 16 (I’m 31 now). I was OBSESSED with the Beatles through junior high, so it was totally a dream come true. I still need to see Paul ;)

  26. omg. my first concert was the Beatles, at a stadium in San Diego. I was 15 or 16. I think it was their first US tour, like 1963 or 64. They were so far away they looked like tiny dolls dancing on the stage, and the girls next to me, who I didn’t know were screaming so loud most of the time that I could barely hear anything. Talk about disappointing! My next concerts were in San Francisco at the Fillmore and other similar venues. I saw the Doors and Janis Joplin. That was 1968. I also went to see Led Zeppelin at the Oakland Coliseum, but the music was SO loud, I left after 10 minutes and waited in the parking lot for my friends to finish. After that I stopped going to loud concerts. Sensitive ears at age 20. Now at 66, still sensitive ears. I won’t go into a noisy restaurant to eat. Dream about having a restaurant with really good healthy food, named Quiet. and it would be. :-) Oh yes. Just remembered, I also went to Altamont in 1969 to see the Rolling Stones. So many young people there, pretty much all seriously stoned on something. The concert was good, but then the Hell’s Angels, whom the Stones had hired for security were overzealous and were actually assaulting concert goers, and even killed one person. It was pretty seriously terrifying. I had a pretty wild youth. And now live a nice quiet life, which I love.

      1. haha. thanks Gabrielle. it was the times! I arrived in SF in ’67. “the summer of love”. it was what was happening. I didn’t even go to most of the concerts that were taking place. an embarrassment of musical riches, and wildness. glad I survived the times to tell the story. :-)

  27. this reminds me need to continue the chat about music we started @ Alt! (where you knew Samiam :))

    My first concert was Whitesnake. I was in 7th grade, so it was 1986-7. My mullet was in full effect! I went to big hair, big arena shows for years until I got into hardcore punk in high school. Then it was all about small shows at small clubs. Now I love being in the Bay Area and having The Fillmore, Slim’s, Bottom of the Hill, The Warfield, and so many other great places to see shows!

  28. My first concert was boyz 2 men. ’95ish?? All my girlfriends and I were totally in love and I couldn’t believe we were actually seeing them live after so many nights falling asleep to their music. I was 14:)

  29. Morrisey wasn’t my first concert but he was certainly one of my first “cool” concerts!

    Glasgow Barrowlands in 19whatever and he threw his shirt in the air at the end and I was given a piece of it by a very generous friend which I tied around my bag.

    My first pop concert was a British band called Kajagoogoo – if you google/yoube it I’m sure you’ll have a giggle!

    Thanks for the memory of Morrisey – fav song? Reel around the fountain

  30. Sting-Dream of the Blue Turtles tour
    I was 14 and it was amazing. I’ve now seen him perform 5 times, and each time it’s perfection.
    But my first concert should have been Duran Duran–I was such a huge fan, but they were so big that they weren’t playing anywhere close to us. I saw them as an adult when all 5 of them reunited briefly–about 8 years ago? It was like being 13 all over again!

  31. 1979 Eighth grade the Ramones!

    But my most memorable 1982 Berkeley Greek Theater English Beat and Bow Wow Wow. We skipped school to get in line and have a good spot. Best night ever!


  32. Weird Al Yankovic – shortly after “Fat” came out. I’ll tell you one thing, that man works HARD for his money! He puts on a fantastic show.

  33. I was blessed with a dear friend that shared my musical tastes and we saw many concerts together. We grew up on KROQ and had a love for alternative music. We got to see The Smiths, The Cure, English Beat/General Public, Fishbone, Madness, Oingo Boingo, and others I can’t think of now. Sadly I have lost touch with this sweet friend, but I still have all of the amazing memories!

  34. My very first concert was Andy Gibb – it was thrilling as I had his poster on my bedroom wall. I have seen so many concerts over the years and I have every ticket stub from all of them. I thought it would be fun to get them all framed in one big frame for my son because he loves music too but when I dug out the old ones from the 80’s – sadly they were too faded. My favorite concert was The Beastie Boys in 1987 – so much fun.
    Great post – thank you!!

  35. My first rock concert was in the early 80s and I was in high school. Some friends and I went to Day on the Green at the Oakland Coliseum and saw the Police-Thompson Twins and Oingo Boingo opened for them. They were all great-but I’m not a huge crowd fan-so I actually remember that more than the music!

    1. I seriously think combining the folks I knew then and during the course of the last 30 years I have ‘met’ everyone who attended that Day on the Green!

  36. If you don’t count seeing The Jets in 5th grade with my Girl Scout troop during their Smoke Free Generation tour, my first concert was REM. Michael Stipe was in a cast, but still jumping around and amazing.

  37. That is so funny. I went to art school and Morrissey and the Smiths were required listening. I now have a 16 and 14 year son, they often respond to my questions jokingly using “Morrissey” speak. “I wear black on the outside, because black is how I feel on the inside”. I always answer “…that joke isn’t funny anymore….”.
    There is never a situation where I don’t hear them teasingly whispering lyrics in my ear. At the hairdressers ( busy clipping) , in traffic (.. If a ten ton truck, kills the both of us…). They act appalled that I listened to ‘mope rock’ but I think they secretly like it. Thanks for a fun memory. Oh yea, my first concert was when I was brand new to town and my new friends asked if I wanted to go to campus to a concert. It was REM playing from Life’s Rich Pageant.

    1. Love this! Morrissey lyrics to fit and occasion.

      And REM is another band I’m sort of shocked I never saw in concert. Maybe they’ll do a reunion tour someday.

  38. My first big one was Lollapalooza in ’93–Tool, Primus, Rage Against the Machine (though to my chagrin, they “played” by just standing on stage naked with feedback going on for 10 minutes, major disappointment for me. It was such an awesome first concert!

  39. First concert with first boy friend 1975, Ted Nugent, Aragon Ballroom in Chicago. That was an eye opener!!!

  40. My first concert was to see pop singer/soap opera actor Rick Springfield. I was about 14 and went to see him at our Kentucky State Fair.

  41. My parents took me to see LEIF GARRETT (!!) when I was pretty small, maybe 8 or 9? Late 1970s. I loved it, and have loved all types of concerts ever since. My first (fairly) independent concert was seeing the Police during their Synchonicity tour in Fdb 1984 – I was almost finished with 8th grade, and one mom drove her daughter and and several of us friends. To this day, I think of that as one of the best concerts ever – I have never had the chance to see Sting live again, thus far. In college, a roommate took me to see Mary-Chapin Carpenter in a very small venue, and she was FANTASTIC. I had never listened to country music before, but she converted me. Finally, a high-school friend of mine became the head sound guy for Keith Urban. When Brooks & Dunn’s Neon Circus tour came to our town in 2001, my friend let us watch from the side of the stage – we got to see B&D, Urban, Montgomery Gentry, and Toby Keith ALL live, and got to meet them, go through Urban’s tour bus, etc. It was so amazing. I could never live that concert life (so much work on everyone’s part, and so constantly mobile), but I am so happy for every chance I get to go!

    Thanks Gabrielle – fun memories!

  42. My first concert was Sum41 in the spring of 2002. I was 14, and it BLEW MY MIND. I would totally see them again, despite having much better taste in music these days :).

  43. Love this. I saw Morrissey in college, and he walked off when security wouldn’t let people onstage. We could hardly believe it when the lights came up – “He really LEFT?!” True to his moody form though, right?

    (First concert: Duran Duran “Strange Behaviour” tour, Erasure opened for them.)

  44. It was Siouxsie and the Banshees with Wonderstuff! It was at an outdoor amphitheater and the whole venue turned into a big, muddy mosh pit. The tall, handsome friend I was with whisked me to a safer vantage point and put me on his shoulders so I could still see the stage.

  45. Age 13, the Monkees in Chicago…I had just completed charm school and knew that concerts required white gloves. So my first concert outfit was a sleeveless turquoise paisley tent dress with white gloves. 1967, y’all. I ditched the gloves and basically spent the entire concert standing on my seat screaming my head off. Take that, charm school!

    1. Love your story! I love the Monkees and wish I could have seen them live. Good thing their tv show is still in syndication, ha ha.

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