How I Accidentally Went To A Legendary Rock Band’s First U.S. Show In 30 Years

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When I got out of work last Friday night, I wanted to do something. I texted a bunch of my friends, but nobody was around. So I texted my friend Skip who I hadn’t seen since January, and it turns out that he was heading to a bar with some friends, and I was going to join them for a little bit.

When I got to Jack Doyle’s on 35th Street, it was great to relax and see a couple old friends while making new ones. All of a sudden, one of Skip’s friends had a bunch of tickets in his hand. Somebody (maybe the bartender, maybe a fellow patron– I really don’t even know) was giving out free tickets for a show. When I looked at the tickets, my jaw dropped. It was the Boomtown Rats, the iconic Irish rock band fronted by Bob Geldof (the guy who organized Live Aid and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his massive contributions to charity and music.)

Now, I had never actually listened to the Boomtown Rats before, but I knew that they were good. My parents (who were cool in the Eighties) were always talking about them, and my mom even texted me a month ago telling me to get tickets to this show. I knew I had to go. A legendary band at a wicked cool venue (Terminal 5) and best of all the tickets were free! So I hopped in an Uber with somebody I had just met and we made our way to the show.

photo 2When we got in, one of the opening acts was just finishing up their set. After a break, a really cool band called The Stunning came out and did a set. When they left the stage, the excitement really started to brew. My friend/kid I just met decided to leave, as the crowd wasn’t really his scene. (It was mostly middle aged moms and dads.) But I couldn’t wait to mosh with old people!

Right before the Rats came out, I found out that one of my mom’s friends was at the show with her family. I bumped into her and she pointed out that Sting was in the audience! So cool. The Boomtown Rats didn’t come out until after midnight, and when they did I was totally blown away.

I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but what I got was insane. Bob Geldof has just as much stage presence and swagger as Steven Tyler or Mick Jagger or Bono. He is a rock star.  And the music was mindblowingly good. It was good old fashioned rock and roll, but it had a real urgency to it. 2014 channeling 1981. It was fantastic.

The band rocked the crowd of baby boomers and me until well past 1 A.M. At one point, a couple of drunk old guys kept jumping and falling into people, and a little fight broke out in the crowd around me. I got shoved and hit a little bit, but did my best to deflect the blows and help all the dads break up the fight. At another time I made eye contact with Bob Geldolf, and later he confusingly called out people wearing baseball hats “the wrong fucking way” and people wearing baseball T-shirts. I didn’t even realize for a minute that I was wearing a Red Sox shirt. I looked around and didn’t see any other baseball shirts, so I can pretty confidently say that Bob Geldof called me out at a Boomtown Rats show.

When all was said and done, the band played a terrific encore and then departed for their next show in Boston, where my parents had tickets to see them on Sunday.

As I was heading home, I laughed at how I went from being bored and trying to find something to do to being ten feet away from an amazing band who rocked me like I remembered the Eighties.

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