Feb. 3, 1984, is a date Mary Jones Rhodes and her daughter, Tracy Jones, are unlikely to forget — but for entirely different reasons.
The occasion was an Adam Ant concert at Boutwell Auditorium in Birmingham. Tracy, age 13 at the time, was a big fan and went all out to prove it. “I had bought the perfect outfit that looked like something out of a Mad Max movie,” she said. Jagged miniskirt, leg warmers, snakeskin shoes. She styled her hair with just the right amount of ’80s poof. “I used enough Aqua Net to destroy the ozone.”
Tracy insisted her mom wear jeans with pumps so that she, too, would “look cool.” Once they were in the auditorium, Mary took a seat to the side while Tracy made for the stage to get a closer look at the star of the show.
“I was on cloud nine afterwards,” she remembers. “I got to see a real live rock star in person!”
Mary didn’t share her daughter’s post-concert enthusiasm, but not because she didn’t appreciate the music. As the music director of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Mary has come to embrace music in all shapes and sizes. “That was just the loudest concert I’ve ever attended,” she said. “My ears were throbbing.”
When it came to Adam Ant concerts, Mary was one and done. Never again would she put her ears through that kind of torment.
Flash forward to January 2017, when Mary learned the age-old lesson to never say never.
An excited Tracy announced she had been gifted with two tickets to see Adam Ant in New York City, and she insisted her mother join her.
Tracy’s son, Jace, and brother, Trent, surprised the ladies by tagging along for a trip to the Big Apple.
Just as they were boarding the plane, however, they got the news that the concert had been cancelled due to the death of one of the band members.
Tracy was shocked by the news, saddened and heartbroken all at the same time. “I tried to console her,” Mary said.
Tracy remembers her mother’s exact words. “She said, and I quote — ‘If he ever comes back to the states, anywhere close, I will buy the tickets myself and go with you.’”
In the meantime, the group enjoyed a fabulous weekend trip. Mary had never been to New York City, but Tracy, who works in surgical services at Birmingham’s Brookwood Hospital, used to be a fashion buyer. “I was able to show Mom where I had worked all those years of buying, and take her to some really amazing restaurants,” she said.
Back home, some six months later, Tracy saw a social media post announcing an Adam Ant tour of the United States. To her delight, he was scheduled to perform in Atlanta on Sept. 23, at the Variety Theater in Little Five Points.
Mary was now on the hook for tickets.
“A promise is a promise,” Tracy said.
And so it was that, finally, at long last, mother and daughter would come full circle on their own personal Adam Ant concert tour.
“Third time’s a charm,” joked Mary.
Or is it?
The night before the Atlanta concert, Tracy began experiencing leg pain. Just as she and Mary walked into the theater, she collapsed with what was later diagnosed as a torn knee muscle.
Security came to the rescue, helping Tracy into a chair in the general admission area. Mary stood behind her. “We had $135 VIP tickets,” she said. “And there we were in the standing-room-only section.”
Despite that, the two women thoroughly enjoyed the concert, especially since Mary thought to bring a set of earplugs.
Three decades may have passed since that first concert, but the headliner still knew how to put on a show. “Adam Ant could still belt out his songs,” Mary said. “And he has quite a lot of moves left in him.”
Unfortunately, the knee pain became too much for Tracy to bear. She and Mary left the concert early and headed for the nearest emergency room. Tracy was treated and released, but surgery is still a possibility.
The only question that remained was the VIP tickets. “Did they include a meet-and-greet with Adam Ant after the show?” Tracy wondered.
Mary, ever the wise mother, replied, “Some things are better just not knowing.”
Donna Barton’s column appears every Sunday. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.