Since everybody else in the Upper Midwest is doing it, I may as well create my own reflections on that ugly Minneapolis monstrosity. As you may expect, my experiences in that building wasn’t as sports-related as most.
My first trip to the dome was sports-related, though. In 1984, they hosted a strange basketball exhibition game featuring the U.S. Olympic team versus some sort of NBA All-Stars. My memory of this is almost non-existent. I don’t recall a single member of either team. In fact, the only aspect of this that comes to mind is that they had set up the court in the infield section of the stadium, and we were sitting in the upper deck behind home plate.
Two years later, I returned for the first Metrodome rock concert. It was a then-rare Minneapolis performance by Bob Dylan, who was then touring with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers as his backup band.
The Grateful Dead opened the show, and my negative feelings for them were reinforced by the ninety minutes of meandering junk they performed. The only highlight of their set came a few minutes before they hit the stage when I spotted Kevin McHale and Bill Walton haul a giant cooler across the stage.
My dislike for the Dead was reinforced by a tidbit released later that they had designed the sound system utilized for this show. I’d never heard anything as muddy as what we experienced that day. The sound waves bounced around the teflon roof, arriving at our 50 yard-line seats at least ten seconds after they were created. It was a mess.
This mess carried on to the Dylan set. I was so excited to see him for the first time, especially since I was also a huge Tom Petty fan. The staging of their collaboration was pretty special. After a few of his songs, Dylan would leave the stage for a short set of Petty tracks. Dylan would then return, and the Heartbreakers would leave to allow Dylan and Petty to do a short acoustic set. This was followed by another Tom Petty set, and then Dylan would come back one more time for the finale and encores.
Too bad this was marred by the Dead’s sound mix, but I thankfully had an opportunity to see a later date of this tour. Petty and the Heartbreakers were easily Dylan’s best backing band outside of The Band, and the Los Angeles show I witnessed also featured cameos by The Eurythmics and keyboardist Al Kooper (famous for the “Like a Rolling Stone” organ).
Three years later, I returned to the Dome for two Rolling Stones shows. This was a fascinating time for traveling music fans. Ticketmaster had recently updated their computer system, allowing out of town fans equal access to tickets. No longer did we have to stand in line for tickets, and it was still a few years before you could purchase from home.
A little research was needed before buying tickets, though. One had to figure out which outlet stood the best chance of putting you online at the moment they went on sale. Our usual plan was to place people at the most remote Lewis Drug stores. We’d each buy the maximum, knowing that we could unload the rest to others.
The results for these Stones shows were perfect. Third row center the first night; second row center the next. The Steel Wheels tour was a rebirth for the band. They hadn’t toured since 1981, and the album of the same name was one of the better latter day Stones albums. Both shows were fantastic, although I will be the first to admit they were nothing as wild or decadent as those classic early 70’s Mick Taylor shows. My pal “Zap” spent most of both shows making eyes at backup vocalist Lisa Fischer, who recently starred in the 20 Feet From Stardom documentary.
After these two shows, my time in the building consisted of only Vikings games. Some were great and some were dreadful. The only truly memorable game I witnessed was a playoff loss to the Eagles a few years ago, and my highlight of that weekend was the fact that the Philly team stayed in the same hotel as I did. My weekend consisted mainly of drinking with Eagles fans and media members, which was a lot more fun than that dreadful game.