You might be familiar with Setlist.fm, a crowdsourced listing of concert dates, venues, and setlists. Like anything crowdsourced (think Wikipedia), it’s only as comprehensive as its readers make it, and only as correct. So its listings of dates, bills, and sets is something short of entirely accurate, but it’s dang interesting nevertheless.
The other day I was poking through the listings for the Dane County Coliseum, the big arena in Madison, Wisconsin, where I live. It’s your typical multi-purpose venue in a typical medium-sized city, opened in 1967 and still in use today, seating 10,000 for sports and maybe 12,000 for concerts, and home to everything at one time or another, from the circus to hockey to monster trucks to concerts. What follows in this post (and a second installment to come) is an occasionally annotated list of shows appearing at Setlist.fm from the earliest one (in 1967, shortly after the Coliseum opened) through the end of 1982, when I moved away from southern Wisconsin and would no longer have been quite so plugged in to the concert scene here.
7/7/67: Frank Sinatra
8/18/68: Beach Boys
5/2/70: Jimi Hendrix
5/27/71: Frank Zappa
5/3/72: Jethro Tull
11/9/72: Beach Boys
1/4/73: Neil Young
1/30/73: Allman Brothers Band
2/15/73: Grateful Dead
3/4/73: Pink Floyd
—This was the first show of the Dark Side of the Moon tour, about three weeks before the album’s official release.
4/8/73: Uriah Heep and Billy Preston
5/9/73: Deep Purple, Fleetwood Mac, and Frost
—Frost (sometimes known as “the Frost”) was a legendary Detroit band, originally led by Dick Wagner, who would later play with Lou Reed on Rock and Roll Animal and collaborate with Alice Cooper. In 1973, this would have been the less successful post-Wagner edition of Frost.
9/3/73: Jethro Tull
10/25/73: Grateful Dead
12/5/73: Beach Boys
12/11/73: Alice Cooper and ZZ Top
1/15/74: Rare Earth
1/27/74: Wishbone Ash
2/10/74: Black Sabbath
4/22/74: Black Oak Arkansas and Montrose
4/28/74: Grand Funk
7/27/74: Aerosmith, Manfred Mann, and Uriah Heep
—I am not entirely sure who would have been the headliner on this one.
9/11/74: Kansas and Hawkwind
10/11/74: David Bowie and Mike Garson
––Garson, a keyboard player, was in Bowie’s band and one of his major collaborators in this period, and he apparently got his own spot on the bill.
12/5/74: Foghat and Wishbone Ash
2/1/75: Gordon Lightfoot
2/16/75: Jethro Tull
2/25/75: Humble Pie
3/6/75: Queen, Kansas, and REO Speedwagon
—That’s an awesome 70s bill.
4/3/75: BTO, Bob Seger, and Thin Lizzy
––And so is this one. My girlfriend and I badly wanted to go, but neither one of us could drive yet, and living an hour away, we couldn’t figure out how to get there.
7/8/75: Eric Clapton
—Not shown at Setlist.fm but also appearing: Santana.
9/17/75: Fleetwood Mac
10/28/75: Jethro Tull
11/25/75: Frank Zappa and Larry Coryell
12/4/75: Foghat, Black Oak Arkansas, and Montrose
2/15/76: Deep Purple and Nazareth
2/29/76: Joni Mitchell
3/13/76: The Who
5/7/76: Wishbone Ash
7/17/76: Fleetwood Mac
10/12/76: Blue Oyster Cult and Be Bop Deluxe
10/19/76: Elvis Presley
11/14/76: Neil Young
1/14/77: Queen and Cheap Trick
2/4/77: Kiss and Uriah Heep
—Next to the prom, this show was the most important social event of the spring of 1977, when I was a junior in high school. I didn’t go, because I thought Kiss was ridiculous. Those who went regaled us with tales of getting drunk before, during, or after; very few people could say very much about the show itself.
2/16/77: ZZ Top
2/20/77: Bruce Springsteen
—Although they aren’t shown at Setlist.fm, Starcastle opened.
3/11/77: Dolly Parton and Mac Davis
4/19/77: Nazareth and REO Speedwagon
5/4/77: Ted Nugent and Cheap Trick
6/9/77: Emerson Lake & Palmer
—This was my first concert at the Coliseum, with the incredible shrinking Works tour orchestra.
6/24/77: Elvis Presley
—On his way from the airport to the hotel during the wee hours of the morning on show day, Elvis saw a fight between a gas-station attendant and a couple of young men, ordered his limo driver to stop, and got out to break it up.
7/28/77: Alice Cooper
8/11/77: Peter Frampton
9/29/77: Harry Chapin
10/19/77: Blue Oyster Cult and Black Oak Arkansas
—If this wasn’t advertised as “Black and Blue,” somebody in the promoter’s office should have been fired.
10/23 or 10/24/77 (multiple dates given): Utopia
11/8/77: Emerson Lake & Palmer
—Second visit in five months for ELP. I was at this one too, and it was a much better show than the first one.
11/16/77: Jethro Tull
11/30/77: Cheap Trick
12/6/77: Dan Fogelberg
12/10/77: Neil Diamond
12/18/77: Ted Nugent
We’ll pause here at the end of 1977 and return for the very busy late 70s and early 80s in a future installment.