Venue: Irvine Meadows Amphitheater, Irvine, California
Date: June 18, 1989
Just days before, I practically pulled my hair out trying to navigate finals week at college. As soon as that last final was over, I jumped in the car and drove as fast as I could down to my parents’ place in the San Fernando Valley (a 6-hour drive, that I’m pretty sure I made in under 5 that day). I had just a few weeks until I was to start an internship in the Napa Valley, so I was hell-bent on having as much fun with my friends as possible while I was in town.
The most memorable night of my visit included cramming several friends in a car and making the long, long drive down to Irvine. It was the first and last concert I’ve seen at Irvine Meadows Amphitheater, and I must admit, I recall having a much better time than this L.A. Times Reporter apparently did. As a loyal KROQ listener, I buzzed with excitement as we walked through the gates, finally getting a chance to see The Sugarcubes, PiL and New Order (and on one bill!). I remember the tour name included “Monsters of”, but I don’t recall of what now. Synth or New Wave maybe? Seems like every multi-headliner tour had a “Monsters of” moniker back then.
It’s been a long time. Memories have faded. But I do clearly recall The Sugarcubes dazzling and, in particular, Björk‘s voice running up and down scales, both delicate and raspy. It practically sent a shiver down your spine on that warm night. I remember my giddiness after hearing “Motorcrash”, “Birthday” and “Hit”, which were probably my favorite songs at that time.
I have to say that as I look back, I’m so happy I had a chance to see PiL as well, although I found John Lydon so much mellower than I imagined. But I was a bigger fan of the Sex Pistols than PiL back then, and it was apparent why he eschewed the Johnny Rotten stage name. He was wearing a crazy orange suit and seemed more like a dayglow David Bowie from our nosebleed seats than a punk hero.
We were young. We danced and sang along with New Order, and didn’t really mind that they were stiff and didn’t interact much with the audience. Having seen them since, I must say they still aren’t terribly animated. But they do put on a solid set. To this day New Order remains one of the bands that I appreciate more on vinyl than I do live.
We left Irvine late at night, making a pit stop in the wee hours at a Denny’s in Westwood we called “Rock n’ Roll” Denny’s, because it seemed so many bands would end up there after gigs. But it was dead on a Sunday night, and I don’t recall seeing anyone of interest. Sleepy and sated with greasy goodness, we made the last leg of the trip back to the Valley, admiring the grid of lights below us as we came over the hill.
Listen to the entire New Order set from June 16, 1989 below.