'78 Tour and Peter Tosh

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Posted by Mr. Ventilator on September 01, 1999 at 18:06:22:

Just thought I'd take a moment and share my experience of the Stones '78 tour, which featured Tosh as an opening act..

The show I saw was in Oakland Coliseum (outdoors, and was the last stop on the tour. I got to the show at about 4:00 am, to get a good place in line. This was a waste of time, as it turned out, but more on that later. The gates opened at 8 or 9, and I was one of the first people in. Got in prime position, and waited.

And waited. And waited. First act: Eddie Money, who I thought was so-so. Peter Tosh was second up (or maybe it was the other way round). I dug it, but the response was lukewarm. But better than Philly, from what I gather. Santana was next up, delivering a strong set. By the time they were through it was mid afternoon. Then the real wait began.

It later came out that the Stones hadn't even left their LA (!) hotel by their 2:00 p.m. scheduled start at the Oakland Coliseum. But of course nobody told the crowd anything. They just let us wait. And wait. It was general admission, and by 2 p.m. it was standing room only for 50 yards in front of the stage. There was no way to for anyone close to the stage to get to facilities/food/water without giving up a hard-won spot. Predictably the boozy and drug-addled crowd started to get ugly as the hours passed. People passed out, and medics took 20 minutes to get to them. It was about 5:30 when the Stones finally came on.

I was about 40 feet from the stage, and when the band came on, the crush was unbelievable. I was actually able to lift both feet off the ground and did not fall because everybody was wedged in so tightly. I don't remember much about the first part of the show except that I couldn't move my arms or feet. Breathing was an effort.

Musically, the set was a disappointment. The Stones just didn't have it. It was hard to tell why, because I couldn't see anything, but it was obvious that they just weren't playing with any intensity. The Some Girls songs flat-out bombed. After waiting eight or twelve hours standing up, people just didn't want to hear tepid versions of "Lies" or "Far Away Eyes". By the time the set was halfway over, the crowd was pelting the stage with junk. The only reason it wasn't worse, I think, was that most of the people close enough to the stage to throw anything couldn't reach down to the ground for something to throw because the crowd was so tightly packed.

The Stones closed with a slew of older tunes, which went over better, but even after an encore of "Satsifaction", the show was only about 90 minutes long. This after a 3 1/2 hour delay because the Stones couldn't be bothered to show up on time.

Yet I remained a fan, and my loyalty was rewarded 3 years later during the '81 tour, when the Stones played long, well, and I got a great veiw of the show from right up close.

In fact, Stones shows after '78 were models of professionalism. Post '78, The Stones played extensive sets, mixed old and new, started on time, and played well.

I wonder if fans who see Stones concerts today have any realization how close this band was to completely cracking up in '78..

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