As a special tribute to the Art section dedicated to the ancient Kingdom, we collected selected reviews of local rock concerts. Most of these shows had serious issues with Echo Kingdome, but it's a great list of shows nonetheless. Seattle Times critic Patrick MacDonald attended this first concert with Paul McCartney and the last with U2. All of these excerpts are from his reviews unless otherwise noted.
June 1976, Paul McCartney and Wings
If anyone had any doubts about Kingdome's rock performance, Paul McCartney and Wings dispelled it last night with a spectacular extravaganza that marked the climax of their US tour.
It was the largest crowd on the tour and set a new indoor attendance record for a single act: over 67,000. The stage lighting and sound systems were larger than any other concert and were designed specifically for the Dome. The concert was filmed, videotaped and recorded, with Geraldo Rivera and his team creating footage for an upcoming ABC-TV special.
Sam McCartney was bubbling with enthusiasm and clearly pleased with the record crowd. Throughout the two-hour show, he was full of inexhaustible energy, robbing, jumping, and joking. He said he had fun and watched it. . . One of the greatest emotions of the evening was the deafening roar of the 67,000 spectators at the end and the sight of thousands of matches lighting up the darkened hall before the encore. . .
Nothing could describe the Dome more dramatically and exhilaratingly as a rock venue: the only Beatle currently performing in the biggest concert of her tour. It was an evening that Seattle rockers will remember for a long time.
August 1976, Eagles, Linda Ronstadt
Kingdome's second rock show took place on Friday night when nearly 50,000 fans gathered to hear the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt and John David Souther perform.
It was a great test for the Dome and most people who were there would probably say that this place was given a failing rating. For all but a few people the sound was so bad it was impossible to enjoy the music.
July 1977, Led Zeppelin
For the first time since Wings last night at the Kingdome, a rock act went well, but only because it was Led Zeppelin, the biggest band of all.
The sound was still pretty lame, but that didn't really matter because Zeppelin isn't a band you have to listen to closely most of the time. The stone they throw is supposed to shake the whole body, so the echo and reverberation of the Dome didn't matter much. October 1982, The Who, The Clash and T-Bone Burnett
The Who somehow managed to beat Kingdome last night, but it was a tough battle the whole time.
The pioneering British rock band took a while to warm up on their recent US tour, but roughly a third of the 130-minute, 23-song set got The Who fired up and kept going. . . The show was huge, with huge explosions during "Won't Get Fooled Again", blinding lights shining everywhere and a gigantic stage dimmed by three huge letters that read "WHO".
Madonna, July 1987
Madonna invented a new format for the concert: live video with rock.
Her "Who's That Girl" mega-event, which was played at the Kingdome last night to 30,000 screaming fans, looked more like a 90-minute MTV music video than a live performance.
Even those seated at the front on the ground floor didn't see it very well as almost everyone was seated in their seats throughout the set. Only the last few songs allowed a limited number of people to get close to the stage and really rock with Material Girl.
"There are about 30,000 people here and I can't sense you," she complained.
Pink Floyd, December 1987
Floyd has long been known for his spectacular performances, so it was no surprise last night at the Kingdome when the band put on an impressive display of technical magic and dazzling special effects. Perhaps no rock band has ever been so monumentally theatrical.
The Kingdome's famous echo was heard, but muffled by time-delayed quadraphonic speakers suspended throughout the building.
It should be noted that this event was somewhat less astounding than some previous publications had suggested. . . . The famous inflated pig did not float above the audience, but rather lazily floated to one side of the ground floor - a pig in space - although this huge creature was certainly ugly, more like a wild boar than a fattening pig.
Paul McCartney and Wings, March 1990
Last night Paul McCartney filled the Kingdome with nostalgia and celebration, evoking the Beatles era with his showmanship and charm.
Carefree and lively, the gray-haired "cute Beatle" managed to turn this massive media event into an almost intimate experience, bringing himself and the audience closer through constant interaction with the audience.
He stole and pointed, blinked, posed and flashed the V-sign more times than Richard Nixon did in his entire career. It would be too much if he didn't add a sense of fun and fun to it. He was like Paulie from 25 years ago.
McCartney told the audience to "let your hair down" before playing the second track, "Jet", one of only five songs he performed with Wings, his post-Beatles 1970s band. "Welcome to Kingdome," he said after the song. "It's great to be back." McCartney had previously played in Seattle three times: with the Beatles in 1964 and 1966, and with Wings in 1976.
New Kids on the Block, wrzesień 1990
The Kids, on the final leg of their four-month tour, presented their shiny, somewhat funky rock to a hungry audience - mostly young girls in New Kids T-shirts and shorts; girls whispering the word love, saying the holy names: Danny, Donnie, Jonathan, Jordan and Joe.
Almost four hours before the concert, the Kidiacs crowded around the Dome in excitement. Kurt Logan, CEO of Ticketmaster, described the scene as follows:
"Looks like an odd Seahawk mob, but instead of 45-year-old boys with beer bellies, there are 12-year-old girls."
Guns 'N Roses, Metallica, October
When you look at the Kingdome floor during anything other than a sporting event, you always get the feeling, "When are the RVs coming here? Where are the monster trucks? Will the athletes come? Is it Home Show?”
Last night, no. It was a rock performance. 37,000 fans showed up. They got about 7 and a half hours of lights, cameras, some action, long wait times, portable cans, a big screen TV, fireworks and music.
December 1994, De Rolling Stones
“The concert… came to life with the track “Honky Tonk Women” accompanied by footage of dozens of potentially eligible women, from Betty Boop to Joan Crawford, old porn stars and old photos of the Stones themselves in disguise.
Then it was time to replace Richards. "I see the ceiling is up," he joked with a hoarse laugh. He sang "Before They Make Me Run" and "The Worst", the latter with Wood again on the pedals.
Then the concert began, featuring seven killer rockers in a row.
But the show isn't over yet. The band returned for the "Jumpin' Jack Flash" encore in full swing. As the Stones left the stage, fireworks blared, flashed, and lifted.
The show started promptly at 19:30. with a 45-minute set from Spin Doctors. . . . The sound was surprisingly good, perhaps due to the acoustic improvements of the new Kingdome Ceiling.
Listopad 1997, De Rolling Stones
Leave it to the venerable Rolling Stones to overcome most of the mega-concert's inherent flaws - i.e. its crappy, echo-plagued sound - with the massive "Bridges to Babylon" extravagance. The great sound system made the vocals clear and the instruments crisp and clear - with a bit of an echo of the old Kingdome - and the huge oval video screen was by far the best in the history of a rock concert.
But the most amazing thing about yesterday's show wasn't its vastness, but its intimacy. . .
There was of course the spectacle that started with the opening cutscene of a meteor exploding in flames from the screen. Then, in the middle of the show, a long metal bridge stretched from the main stage to a smaller stage in the middle of the floor.
It provided a tight, clubbing setting for classic gems like "Little Queenie", "This Could Be the Last Time" and a surprising, spirited cover of Bob Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone". Through the audience, the Stones returned to the stage, clapped their hands and gave the fans a high five.
December 1997, U2
It was the last night. The last rock and roll concert in the Kingdome and the last night in America as part of U2's "Pop Mart Tour". And what fun was last night.
Vocalist Bono, whose voice troubles seemed to be over, was in classic form, and the massive flamboyance suited the Dome nicely. The giant video screen was amazing, showing close-ups of the band in action interspersed with amazing, imaginative visual effects. And the sound was the best in Kingdome history, surpassing even the recent Rolling Stones performance.
The evening was festive. Bono interacted with the audience much more than during the band's concert in Eugene last May, using the long extension of the stage to get closer to the fans. . .
Explaining (or perhaps apologizing to) this brilliant presentation, he told the audience, "We wanted to turn the casino into a cathedral."