Earlier in the year, I took a nostaligia trip via a column in the Tallahassee Democrat about my crashing of Leon High’s 30-year high school reunion.
I closed that column saying I would do my best to catch the summer stadium tour featuring Joan Jett, Poison, Mötley Crüe and Def Leppard.
Well, the ducks got in a row and the stars lined up to make it happen.
On the final night of the tour in Las Vegas, Nevada, Sept. 9, at Allegiant Stadium, the beautiful home of the Las Vegas Raiders, the Dowlings were in the house. The seven-hour spectacle of musical greatness can only be described as a celebration of an era, of life, and rock and roll in general.
It was a rock show for the ages and the trek included our first plane ride out of the wonderful state of Florida since early 2020, plus the first big rock show since 2019 (see Guns N’ Roses tour).
Where else could you see two Rock & Roll Hall of Fame members (Joan Jett, Def Leppard), the kings of the Sunset Strip (and movie sensations) Mötley Crüe who also sold 100 million records worldwide?
Throw in the second-generation kings of the sunset strip, Poison. All on one stage? The result is a night of hit songs, anthems and literally “Nothing but a Good Time,” that started at 4 p.m. and ended at 11 p.m.
After Joan Jett sang “I Love Rock and Roll” you felt like you got your money’s worth right there — and that was just Act 1. The hits and moments just kept coming and any thoughts the song “Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard was cheesy went out the window as 50,000 people sang along.
Joan Jett’s tunes of old literally reminded me of being back in 1984, at the skating rink, in the pep rally at school, and going to the fair (Gravitron, ugh).
Catching Poison in middle school with Ratt was maybe one of the coolest things I had ever seen up to that point. The first time I saw Mötley Crüe (before 10-plus concerts) was on MTV via the 1984 “Shout at the Devil” era video “Looks that Kill,” same for Def Leppard and the 1984 “Photograph” video from the album Pyromania.
(Note DL is up there with Shania Twain, Michael Jackson and other legends having back-to-back Diamond albums — 10 million units sold each — with “Pyromania” and “Hysteria.”)
Florida in 1984 was an exciting time to be alive.
You had the greatest music of all time and some very interesting events in the state and nation. Ronald Reagan beat Walter Mondale to continue his run as our President.
Did you know Reagan carried every county in Florida except one? It was Gadsden County in North Florida.
Considering recent elections in Florida, that is intriguing as usually South Florida and Leon County are bluer than Smurf Village, but times were different then as red was the color of 1984 in our state.
In college football, the Florida Gators had a taste of victory with an SEC title that was promptly yanked by NCAA violations. You can, however, find plenty of swag declaring the Gators 1984 SEC Champs.
At the theater “Ghostbusters,” “Beverly Hills Cop” and “Gremlins” were the top of the list — and you actually had to go to the movies. Can you imagine that even HBO was just becoming a thing? (It was off to a slow start from its founding in 1972.) The pre-internet era, even though I lived it, it is still a crazy time to look back on.
Especially around concert time, sending e-tickets to each other, calling the Uber, pics and videos galore (I will spare you the videos), was very different from that 1980s Motley show I saw with Guns N’ Roses opening. 1984 to me was all about, music, my first guitar, video games at home (Nintendo), Dungeons and Dragons, soccer, my BB gun, throwing stars (thanks to the fair), going to the mall (Spencer’s Gifts, arcade, record store, Chick-fil-A), comic books and a first crush or two.
Also, in 1984 (just like today), problems were everywhere as the Cold War raged on and the Soviet Union boycotted the Summer Olympics. Even more disturbing locally, in Tampa a serial killer was on the loose named Bobby Joe Long who killed nine persons.
In the tech world there was plenty of innovation, as Apple laid the groundwork for the products we love today by launching the Apple Macintosh personal computer. They followed the launch with an epic advertisement.
We left the metal show rather ceremoniously on a rickshaw Saturday, completely exhausted, with our expensive merch in hand. As we rolled at 4 mph, we listened to some Eazy-E in the surprisingly well-equipped rickshaw (sound system, cup holders, etc.) as we slowly headed back to the glitz and sounds of the Las Vegas strip.
It was a long day, a great one and that was the end of a night of nights in Sin City.
As we prepared to head back to Florida, it was Sept. 11. A grim day in America, and an even grimmer day for travel.
Yet, the opportunity of perspective continued in a much more serious frame of mind between the layovers and security checkpoints. The memory of a united America following Sept. 11 was top of mind. It might seem like a united country is gone, but that nation is still here and so are most of those people. We are just going through some tough times, not for the first time and certainly not the last. Poison’s Brett Michaels said it best, as Poison drummer Ricki Rocket waved the American flag during the show.
Brett said something like this in between songs … “this next one is for our veterans and the greatest nation on Earth, God bless America. No politics, no BS, just the truth …” and they rocked into another number.
Nice gut check and big picture view from an unlikely spokesperson.
Despite Joe, Donald, Jan. 6, Sep. 11, inflation, riots in our cities during the pandemic, war overseas, shortages, all of the things we see have seen recently; 9/9/2022 was a nice reminder to me that most problems can be solved and there is more commonality in our nation than division.
I see better times ahead for our nation, and I hope you enjoyed some travel to a simpler time. 1984 was not “Little House on the Prairie” by any means. but it was the olden days for sure compared to 2022.
I enjoyed gathering these thoughts while spending the day at the Dallas airport; long layovers force contemplation and perspective, which I had forgotten. As we look forward to more football in Florida (ooof, Florida Gators) and Christmas trees being for sale any day, we look back to the words of Def Leppard and thank them for the best show in ages … the best rock show in ages actually and a song which, even though written by the British, feels very American … cue the music:
Rock of ages, rock of ages
Still rollin’, keep a-rollin’
Rock of ages, rock of ages
Still rollin’, rock’n’rollin’
We got the power, got the glory
Just say you need it and if you need it
Blake Dowling is the CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at [email protected]. He is also the host of the Biz & Tech podcast, hosting Ryan Cohn from Sachs Media on the latest episode: