Madonna, Like a Virgin Tour, June 1985
We recently took our daughter to her first concert, delayed somewhat by, you know, that COVID thing. It was Billie Eilish at the Chase Center a few weeks back. Good show. I’m glad my kid had enough taste to pick an artist that she likely will look back on with fondness.
Part of the fun in watching all the girls rock out to Billie was remembering my own ‘first time.’ Appropriately enough it was Madonna’s Like a Virgin tour in 1985. Radio City Music Hall in NYC. Which wasn’t her hometown technically (Madonna grew up in Michigan) but very much her adopted city, having become a part of the scene beginning in 1978 when she dropped out of college and relocated to the East Village with $35 in her pocket. She’s still in and out of the city — at least one residence I know of, a triple wide townhouse on East 81st.
Madonna played three nights at Radio City that June before moving on to Madison Square Garden. I don’t recall which night we went, but my mother took my and my sister. June 1995 meant I was 11 years old. My sister was six.
I hadn’t heard of the opening band, some local group called the Beastie Boys, but they weren’t very good and people booed. Of course just about 18 months later they’d release an album that became very important to me and begin a multi-decade fandom. But that night the crowd was there for Madonna.
AND SHE SPANKED! I mean, it’s hard to remember how on fire she was at this time. There’s something about an artist at the height of their initial debut. Madonna was a cultural phenomena, a performer who inspired adoration, debate, fashion, outrage. Of course she’s reinvent herself multiple times but for my generation, the Material Girl era was the lasting image.
Do kids still buy t-shirts at concerts to wear to school the next day as ‘proof’ or is that no longer cool? My daughter wears a uniform, and the cool Billie Eilish merch drops on the web, so I’m out of touch with what you’re supposed to do today. She bought a tour poster (now framed and hanging in her bedroom) and a keychain, because her school says you can put one piece of minor flair on your backpack.
I bought THE t-shirt back then.
It said “VIRGIN” in big letters on the back. The bustier was like that rubbery print on material. Maybe it glowed in the dark or that was probably just my hope. I’m sure this shirt is now like hundreds of dollars on ebay and trendy LA stores.
Since that time I’ve seen hundreds of shows. I really do love live music. But seeing an iconic performer on a seminal tour as a first shot sets the tone.
So, what was your first concert?