In this age of black tennis shoes and Bugle Boy jeans… Oops, excuse me, that was two fads ago. Now it’s boat shoes and the preppie roll on Guess jeans. Or am I still a year behind?

I never was too good with the fad thing. All you have to do is look at the way I dress to know I’m an individual. A slob, perhaps, but an individual.

Anyway, in this age of whatever we do to be “cool” or “in” or “hip,” whatever the word now happens to be to describe withitness, there is still one thing a person can count on: rock ’n’ roll.

About three weeks ago, a few friends of mine mentioned they happened to have access to an extra ticket to see The Rolling Stones in Minneapolis. I’ve never been a big Stones fan, especially since the announcement of the USA tour. Every other song on the radio was by The Rolling Stones; it was getting rather sickening. But I wanted to see them just to say THE concert of the ’80s didn’t pass me by, so I jumped at the chance.

When I told my professors I would be going to miss three-fifths of the first week of the quarter, none of them seemed to thrilled about the idea except my English instructor. Now, I hate to generalize, but it seems English professors are a little less uptight about things like rock ’n’ roll.

“The Rolling Stones,” he said. “Hmmmm… I suppose that’s poetry, too, only a little louder. Have a good time.” My other instructors sounded more like this: “Well, class attendance is your business…”

It sure is. So, last Tuesday night I took off for a three-day mini-vacation. The best way to start a new quarter, sanity wise, is to skip the first three days. Try it, you’ll like it.

My friends and I had tickets for the Wednesday night show so we check in to a hotel in downtown Minneapolis that morning. Our hotel was only three blocks from the Metrodome. Past experience has taught me it is important to be within stumbling distance of the concert since a fair amount of pre-partying is inevitable.

But wait a minute. I’m supposed to be telling you about the concert and how rock ’n’ roll is still alive and eating the plant. Skip ahead a few hours…

We walked over to the concert from the hotel, and as we were crossing the street in front of the ’Dome, a guy from the Minnesota Grassroots Party handed me a flyer that said “Legalize Marijuana” above two fine drawings of marijuana plants. Item #4 on the back said, “Plant seeds! Save every seed in your stash. When Spring arrives, go and spread them all over the place. Send the narcs and thte National Guard on a ‘wild gonga chase’ – they’ll never get it all.” Somehow I knew it was going to be an interesting evening.

There is nothing like communing with about 70,000 people… or so I’m told. I wouldn’t know since I wasn’t yet born when the real flower child concerts took place and since the people in Minneapolis are in too much of a hurry to properly commune. 

One lady told me off when I bumped into her on my way to the concession stand. Sorry! By the way, the beer at the ’Dome comes out of a Miller LIte tap but I’d bet anything it’s Blatz. I was drinking Blatz at $3.35 per cup. Screw your neighbor, an American tradition since 1972.

I made it back to my seat in time to hear the opening band sing “Cult of Personality.” I won’t say much about Living Color except they suck live. Just what is a cult of personality, anyway. Get off the stage, man, I came to see The Stones.

A half hour after Living Color, Mick Jagger stormed out onto the largest stage in history, followed by the rest of The Stones, to rock out for two-and-a-half hours through 25 songs. I don’t care what anyone told you about The Rolling Stones; they’ve still got it, whatever “it” is. It was the best concert I’ve ever seen in my life, or hope to see.

A middle-aged couple was sitting behind me with their kids, who were about 10 and 12 years old. The parents were obviously ’60s throwbacks. They stood arm-in-arm, rocking back and forth to the music with big smiles on their faces. Their kids, meanwhile, stood on either side of them holding Rolling Stones T-shirts and looking bored. I turned around and told the youngest he was experiencing one of the greatest moments in rock ’n’ roll history, but he was unimpressed. 

Meanwhile, a guy about my age with long hair was standing in front of me pounding his head into a wall that wasn’t there. Obviously got hold of some bad LSD. Maybe he was acting normally, though. It’s hard to say; the pot smoke was getting kind of thick around me and my judgment was getting clouded. I still think he dropped some bad acid. The amzing thing, though, was that he remembered every word to every song, even the two from Keith Richards’ solo career. Now that’s what I call a Rolling Stones Fan.

One of the highlights of the concert came when the group inflated two of the largest blow-up sex dolls I’ve ever seen. Wait a minute… I’ve never seen a blow-up sex doll. Anyway, these blow-up women looked like they could handle King Kong, Superman and the Incredible Hulk all at the same time. I think these plastic beauties appeared during the song that goes, “I CAN’T GET NO, SATISFACTION…,” but, like I said, the pot smoke was getting thick.

The show ended with a long, drawn-out version of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” which is my favorite Stones tune, so my night was made, regardless of bored kids and acid freaks.

You probably gather from all of this that The Rolling Stones concert of ’89 was beyond description, which it was. All I can tell you is it was well worth the $38.50 I paid for my ticket, and leave it at that.

On the drive home, a shooting star flashed across my windshield. I thought about it for a while and concluded that nature had screwed me out of an appropriate ending to my Stones odyssey. The Stones never resembled a shooting star. They’ve been around for more than 25 years, and I can’t wait for the next 25. If they are as good as the past 25, I’ll be tuned to the oldies stations for the rest of my life.

Originally published under the headline, “Rock ’n’ roll, blow up dolls, more at concert,” in the North Dakota State University student newspaper, The Spectrum, 1989

Martin C. Fredricks IV

Martin C. “Red” Fredricks IV here. I’m husband to an amazing woman who is also my best friend, dad to three outstanding kids, Fargoan (North Dakota, that is), proud introvert, veteran messaging strategist/copywriter, and big-time reader. As they say, if you're gonna write good stuff, you have to read good stuff. A ginger, too - ergo the "Red" - although some of it's going white. Cinnamon-Sugar, I call it. Tattooed to boot; seven so far. At age 54, I'm stilling crankin' AC/DC & Metallica, but now and again I spin some Eric Church and Black Uhuru, too. I love hanging out with my (much) better half, spending time with our kids, writing, hiking, riding my mountain bike and reading.


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