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Its Only Rock and Roll

Sunday, June 22, 2014   by: Mac Headrick

Linda and I attended the Heart concert on Friday. We both enjoyed the concert. My personal motivation to go was more directed at the addition of the Jason Bonham tribute to Led Zeppelin set. The original Led Zeppelin group last appeared in Toronto on September 4/1971. I was at that concert. In today’s column I am going to reflect on the differences between then and now relative to attending live music. 

Ticket Prices: Then the price for my ticket was $5.50 plus .55 cents tax for a total of $6.05. Now depending on the group the cost can range from $45 for Heart up to $150 for someone such as Elton John. Then you add service fees; handily fees delivery over the internet etc. I have heard that compared to large cities and/or Las Vegas, the ticket prices in our city are very reasonable. 

Average age: Of course this depends on the group. At the Led Zeppelin 1971 concert I would guess the average age was 22-23 years old. At Fridays Heart concert there were many young people in attendance. Even considering this I would “guesstimate” in the area of 50 years old to be the average age. In 1971 people over 50 didn’t boogie down. They attended Brenda Lee concerts. 

Quality of sound: In 1971 rock and roll groups blasted a wall of sound at the audience. My ears were numb for approximately four hours after the concert. The sound was distorted and painful. Now I find the sound loud but clear and undistorted. I suffer no ill effects. It should be noted that by habit I sit in the sweet spot in the Essar Center (in my opinion). This area is located at the farthest point away from the stage high up behind the main sound board. 

Drugs or alcohol?: I was completely drug and alcohol free at the start of the Led Zeppelin concert. In 1971 the people of Toronto were in the midst of a love affair with marijuana. The amount of dope being consumed in Maple Leaf Gardens at the Zeppelin Concert was staggering. Vast clouds of smoke billowed inside the building forming clouds that drifted around during the concert. By the law of second hand smoke, everyone at this event had to have been partly or completely stoned. Nowadays the stimulate of choice appears to be beer. It appears Saultites can maneuver very well even when carrying two containers of suds. 

Washroom facilities in general, specifically women’s: In the past there have never been adequate facilities to meet the needs of women. Nothing has changed in that regard. Of course as the movie the Bucket List explained… older people should never pass up the opportunity to use a washroom. The secret is to go before or after the concert breaks. 

Security: In the past security was there in a general sense. Now more resources and technology is applied to this aspect of concert going. In 1971 you presented a ticket and kept half of it. Now you print off your tickets which are scanned as you enter.  

Merchandise: In 1971 you could buy tee shirts, hats etc of the groups. This evolved to include CD’s. I believe it is much the same now. 

I am a fan of the concerts at the Essar Centre. I have heard some complaints about the sound but personally haven’t experienced any problems. 

As I see it, I was there in the beginning (late 1960’s/early 1970’s) of the large concerts. I am older now and have no wish to be anywhere down front of the stage. I am very pleased to be seated in the back enjoying clear sound. To quote the Rolling Stones, “Its only rock and roll but I love it!”

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