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. My first concert that I begged to go to was Donny & Marie when I was in second grade – 1978. It was outdoors and I was in heaven.

    My first bought-my-own-tickets concert was Billy Joel. He was my first two concerts. I’ve seen him five times. Love.

  2. My husband and I got into this conversation with a bunch of strangers when we went to an Outstanding In The Field dinner a couple of summers ago and it was so much fun. My first real concert was The Temptations and The Four Tops with my whole family when I was 7 or 8 years old. It was magical.

  3. Ha – my first concert was also Morrissey! In Detroit. I was about 13 years old and went with my best friend and her older sister. I can still remember what we wore, where we sat and Morrissey whipping that mic cord around. Thanks for the trip down memory lane :)

  4. My first concert was Echo and the Bunnymen, with New Order and Gene loves Gezebel at the Greek Theater in Berkeley. I was 16. So much fun. My friends and I drove there and hung out on Telegraph. No cell phones! I wouldn’t let my 16 yr old do that today!! We still like to go to concerts. My kids have already seen several shows. Maroon 5 at Shoreline last year was great.

  5. Wow. Someone besides me saw James. :) And I’ve seen Morrissey as well. The fans running up and hugging is almost a tradition now. My first concert was oh goodness, Shaun Cassidy in the third grade. That was the start of my concert-crazy life. Currently, I am basically an Avett Brothers groupie (in a nice way–haha!) and travel around the country going to their shows.

  6. My first concert was *the BANGLES* in the sixth grade! I won tickets on the radio and my cool aunt took me!

    However, I did turn down an offer to the homecoming dance with a big crush when I was 15 because I ALREADY HAD TICKETS TO MORRISSEY!! It was also very mellowdramatic and at the biggest sports arena outside Detroit so we were very far away.

    *Shortly after I saw James at a small club, where I could swoon at close distance. *

  7. My first concert was Tiffany in 1990- I was 13 and my friend’s aunt was the chaperone- she was so cool it felt like we were doing something so grown-up and wild- My Mom took me to get a new outfit and my ears pierced before the big night- I looked rad in my hot pink acid washed skirt.

  8. I was a sophomore in high school when I went to my first concert–U2 at Mile High Stadium. It was insane. We were on the floor with seats really close to the catwalk. I felt like that was life changing. I remember going home and writing about it in my journal–even sticking some mementos from the night in there–Bono Money and some tape from the stage. Yes stage tape. I’ve love shows and used to live to go to them, but sadly haven’t been in many years! I’ve seen The Cure, The Grateful Dead, Duran Duran, No Doubt, Weezer, Morrissey, Page and Plant (essentially Led Zeppelin), and a slew of punk/ska/indie bands. Oh man… love this thread, it’s got me all nostalgic.

  9. Mine was Metallica. It was such a great concert! I was 15, and my friends and I sat up all night outside the record store to get the best tickets possible. It worked! We had awesome seats, and what an incredible show they put on. My friends adult cousin took us. I’m still not sure what my mother was thinking by letting us stay out all night for tickets.

  10. This is a sore subject for me when it comes to my kids. Your “first bought your own tickets concert” helps me a bit. The arena shows aimed at little ones seem to take away a right of passage for our kids. I live in Minneapolis MN. This town supports a strong music scene and First Ave still hosts all ages shows. Yet most young ones have seen the wiggles and a host of Disney supported shows before they ever enter First Ave (our local temple of music history) or a college campus concert.

    I have a big sister that was way into contemporary christian music so my first concert was Sandy Patty followed by several SONshine festivals. Not the wildest, but they were mine. It was a bit of a change when I got to my first Violent Femmes show. I had been listening to them since grade school (please don’t tell my mom). I think I was 18 before I saw them live.

  11. My first was supposed to be Cyndi Lauper in 1984, but there was a big snow storm that night and my mom wouldn’t let me go. Oh, the angst! ha ha! So the first ended up being INXS the next year.

  12. I grew up going to the “Kool Jazz Festival” in Cincinnati, Ohio. This was a two-day concert with multiple artists performing over the two days. I think I attended–with my mother–for the first time when I was 6 or 7! The artists were primarily R&B, and over the years I remember seeing Al Green, the O’Jays, The Isley Brothers and the queen of soul herself, Aretha Franklin. I also remember seeing Chick Corea, Carlos Santana, Al Jarreau and Herbie Hancock. Lots of good jazz fusion!

    When I was 12, my 18-year-old cousin took me to see the group Chicago, whom we both loved (don’t laugh–I still love their music). I think the next concert I attended (in high school) was Prince, which was probably the best concert I ever attended!

  13. My first concert was the Beatles in Portland,OR in 1965. I won the tickets in a contest thru Tiger Beat magazine. I was 14, so my parents drove me and a friend 100 miles to Portland and waited outside during the concert. It is one of the greatest memories of my life! My husband and I still go to lots of concerts. We have recently seen Boz Scaggs, Michael Buble, Tony Bennett, Rufus Wainwright, TimMcGraw, Elton John, Pink Martini and are looking forward to seeing Rod Stewart and Bruno Mars this summer. We are in our 60’s but like to pretend it is the 60’s!

  14. The first concert that I went to was also Morrissey. After a fan ran up on the stage (and tried [did?!] take off his white t-shirt), Morrissey ended the concert. However, maybe the best memory of that night was the Xeroxed copies of a Philadelphia map my dad gave my best friend and I with the street corner—of where he’d pick us up—highlighted. That Xerox hung in my best friend’s room for years.

  15. Oh Morrissey would have been a great first concert. I can’t remember my first but it was either Depeche Mode or The Pogues. I distinctly remember going to see both around 8th grade but not sure which one was first. Loved them both though!

  16. Oh, this is such a happy topic! I’ve loved reading through the replies. My first “real” concert was The Cure (and Dinosaur Jr., and The Cranes) at Spartan Stadium; I was 18. That was the beginning of so many great concerts, but that is still one of my top five all-time faves.

  17. I was 16 when I saw, ‘Echo and the Bunnymen’ at the Civic Center in San Francisco. I still can’t believe my parents let me go. So much Fun! I really thought Ian was going to see me and fall madly in love. Did I mention I was 16! Morrissey was my 3rd concert in Berkley. He was AMAZING! Still love him!

  18. My first concert was Alanis Morissette but the best thing is Radiohead opened for her! It totally made me a live music lover! I’m going to see Morrissey in May. It will be my second time seeing him and I’m curious to see if he lets people rush the stage and hug him. Last time everyone who jumped on stage was kicked out. That Morrissey is getting so temperamental in his older age!

    1. Radiohead is so amazing! My favorite concert I’ve ever been to (and I’ve been to a lot) was Radiohead at Red Rocks in the summer of 2001.

  19. I’m having trouble remembering! Isn’t that terrible?! It may have been the Psychedelic Furs in Seattle! There may have been smaller bands less known before that at the 9:30 Club in Washington DC! When I saw this photo of Morrissey it brought back so many memories of listening to The Smiths in my teenage angst days! Loved it! When I have heard or read recent Morrissey quotes he sounds so grumpy lately but I’m still going to read his book! :-)

  20. What an awesome first concert. I didn’t get the chance to see the Smiths or Morrissey when I was in high school, but I have seen him in more recent years. He still puts on an awesome show, and yes, people still run up on stage to hug him. I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit my first concert was Huey Lewis and the News.

  21. My first concert was Shania Twain and honestly it was a bit lame. No dancing, no costume changes, just standing and singing. But still fun! I was 18. I saw SheDaisy at Thanksgiving Point in college and I’ve seen Angels & Airwaves. But Weezer was my most favorite and SO fun. They put on a good show. And that’s it. Kinda pathetic!

  22. It wasn’t my first concert but I saw Morrissey perform in London in 1997. I had been a fan for years and when he came out on stage and yelled, “Hey all you sexy Londoners!” (even though I was sexy American), I screamed so loud I made myself lightheaded. After performing for about 1/2 hour someone broke through security and jumped on stage heading towards Morrissey. After hearing your story, maybe it was to hug him (was this a thing?). But Morrissey was having none of it. He walked right off the stage never to come back. I was really disappointed and mad at the guy who scared Morrissey away. Maybe he’d had one too many hugs and was done with the ritual!

  23. My first concert was a Coldplay concert in West Palm Beach, Florida. The tickets were a graduation gift from my parents and I got to bring my older sister! A five hour drive from my home in Jacksonville but oh, was it pure bliss! The smooth sounds of Chris Martin on a beautiful May evening. The air was uncharacteristically dry with a sweet breeze off the ocean. I wasn’t one bit sorry I missed “Senior Day” at school. Coldplay was totally worth it.

  24. I love this topic because I LOVE concerts, especially rock concerts, and have been to many, although that has considerably waned since becoming a parent. My first “real” concert was seeing the Dave Matthews Band when I was 16. I was hooked with concerts ever since and spent a good chunk of the money I earned in high school and college on attending concerts, even traveling to see certain ones. So many good memories!

  25. they might be giants in milwaukee 1992. when they played “the great polka” people ran on stage to dance with them and it collapsed. i was jealous anyone who was injured got a visit from john and jon the next day. junior year of high school.

  26. Pamela Balabuszko-Reay

    A bit late to the party (been on a boat all week) but I’ve loved reading all of the comments. I’m pining for so many of the bands mentioned. Billy Idol in 1983? in Chicago (Aragon Ballroom?) I think was my first show. My best early concert was Siouxsie and the Banshees in 1984 in Brighton, England. I went from american short punk hair to a massive Siouxsie black hair explosion that summer. I was beside myself with excitement at that show. I brought back the best mix tape from a friend in England that summer. Echo, Captain Sensible, Sex Pistols, Clash… so many more. I played it to death. By mix tape I mean mix tape. I lived in fear that it would break or get tangled.

  27. Morrissey holds a special place in my heart. I saw him for the first time in SLC in 1997. I was one of those who hopped over the barricade and got to shake his hand. But the real magic of that concert was that I met this fellow Morrissey fan online while I was trying to find a ride to that show. We just celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary :) And we are seeing Morrissey in Austin next month!

  28. My very first was Neil Diamond with my mom at age 7 or 8 because my dad got sick and she was not about to miss the show or let a good ticket go to waste! I remember we had a really good time though– I knew all the songs from cleaning house. First ticket that I bought on my own and went to unsupervised was 1994 Lollapalooza in San Diego– Smashing Pumpkins, Beastie Boys, Green Day, Flaming Lips, Guided by Voices– my 15 year old mind was blown, it was completely mad and wonderful all at the same time. And the start of my live music habit. I saw Morrissey a few years later and missed junior prom to see Page and Plant play with the San Diego Symphony…. so worth it. I try my best to still get out, but the kids have definitely slowed it down. I can’t wait until they are old enough to drag to a few shows as a family.

  29. first concert was Love and Rockets in Tampa, Fl when I was 13. So Alive tour. Went with a friend and sat/stood/danced in between our 19 year old sisters. I’m super jealous of the reader that saw the Ramones in 79 and I would have loved to have seen the Pixies. Best big show was the Beastie Boys at the Saltair and best little show would have to be Fila Brazilia in Hollywood. Concerts are always a fun topic!

  30. Janet Jackson! I was a senior in HS and a Freshman friend’s mom got her tickets and the mom didn’t really want to go, so asked me to take her. It was not my first choice, but was so much fun.

  31. My first concert was Depeche Mode. My Mom took me and I was 13. Then, The Cure at 16 with a friend… Love Morrissey!

  32. Love reading the comments. Raised out in the country in Texas, my first concert was ALABAMA in 1983 when I was 12. Wore my red Hang Ten overalls. I still have the newspaper clipping of the concert review in my Garfield scrapbook. 🤣

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