By Dom Cioffi
Anyone who is into music will undoubtedly remember their first live concert. Mine was a doozy, setting the excitement bar for what would be a lifelong love of live entertainment experiences.
My friends and I had just graduated from high school and were reveling in a summer of fun before we headed off to college. One of my friends heard that the band the Scorpions were coming to a nearby arena and insisted we all go.
Thanks to the internet, I can tell you the exact date of this concert, which was June 15, 1984. Somewhere hidden in a box in my attic, I’m confident I still have the ticket stub. (I’ve saved ever ticket stub from every show I’ve ever been to until the rise of print-at-home ticketing.)
My parents were not fans of the idea and told me definitively that I was not to go.
I was devastated. However, after much deliberation, I made the first truly adult move of my life and told them I would be attending the concert with or without their consent.
In the summer of 1984, the Scorpions were one of the biggest bands in the world. Hailing from Germany, the band had just released their ninth studio LP, “Love at First Sting,” resulting in a string of hits including “Rock You Like a Hurricane and “Still Loving You.”
I had heard of the Scorpions prior to this album but was never much of a fan. However, the upbeat, highly energized anthems of this LP were part of the soundtrack of my senior year. There wasn’t a party I went to where these songs weren’t being played at high volume.
On the day of the concert, my friends and I packed into a car and made the hour-long drive to the civic center where the show was being held. It was like another world when we arrived as the parking lot was full of fans tailgating beforehand.
We, of course, had our own preparation plans, complete with food, cocktails, and an assortment of party favors.
I remember being in awe of the sheer volume of people engaging in elicit behavior right out in the open. There was a sense of danger lurking everywhere I looked, and while I was on edge, I was also enthralled with everything that was happening.
When the time came, we headed into the arena to find our seats. I was amazed as each usher we approached pointed us closer and closer to the stage. By the time we reached our seats, we were dead center and only six rows back. I remember turning around and being in awe as I saw the thousands of other fans streaming in to find their seats.
I wasn’t prepared for the mad scramble when the house lights went out. In those days, it wasn’t uncommon to rush the stage as soon as darkness filled the auditorium. I followed suit so I didn’t get trampled in the process.
When the warm-up band came out to play, I was literally leaning against the stage. A giant banner was unveiled behind the band and I remember looking over at my buddy and asking, “Who’s Bon Jovi?” Little did we know that this unknown warm-up act would soon be one of the biggest bands in the world.
When the Scorpions finally came out, I was exhausted. The fight to stay upright was constant as people were continuously clawing to be closer to the stage.
Even with all this discomfort, I was mesmerized by the experience. The lights, the sound, the theater of what was happening – everything had me in awe.
The Scorpions rocked the arena that night and made me a lifelong fan. Whenever I hear one of their songs, I am immediately jettisoned back to that crazy night in June of 1984.
My love of concerts was ignited that evening and has persisted to this day. I don’t get out as often as I used to, but I am reinvigorated whenever I do go because I get to see the same awe and wonder in my son as I introduce him to the sensations of live music.
My love of the Scorpions was recently reawakened when a friend suggested that I listen to a new podcast called, “Wind of Change.” I normally report on films, but this podcast is worth mentioning as we all look for alternative forms of entertainment in a Covid world.
The podcast investigates the rumor that the Scorpions song “Wind of Change,” which is one of the most widely recognized and best-selling songs on the planet, was actually written by the CIA in an attempt to hasten the fall of the Iron Curtain in the late 1980s.
Whether you believe the premise or not doesn’t matter. This podcast is a wonderful example of an enthralling investigative story that takes a multitude of twists and turns.
If you have any love for history (and rock music), this is one podcast you should definitely check out.
A stormy “B+” for “Wind of Change.”Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at email@example.com.