The 40 greatest concerts in Boston history: 28

Madonna + Beastie Boys | Worcester Centrum | June 2, 1985
By PHOENIX STAFF  |  October 25, 2006

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The Licensed to Ill Beastie Boys
“This was a case where you had an international phenomenon happening right at that time,” Kates recalls of Madonna headlining the Centrum in ’85. It wasn’t cool for people who were into cool music to be into Madonna unless you were really into cool music. She was an NYC dance queen who couldn’t really sing or dance but had that special something that just made you sure MTV was going to make her a star. “By the time she played this show, ‘Into the Groove’ was on the radio and it was just blowing up. You had literally 13,000 girls dressed up like Madonna. It was amazing. It was wild. It was Madonna playing to hipsters.”

Meanwhile, the Beasties were transitioning from being a very bad hardcore band to becoming a hip-hop force. “The Beastie Boys had a punk-rock audience and they did a hip-hop show,” Kates says. “I think they got booed at the Centrum. It was a total mismatch. I gave them a ride back to Boston. They were so young. They were speaking in hip-hop lingo. They were clearly nice guys, and they were funny, and all they wanted to do was go to Captain Nemo’s, because the Rat was all they knew of Boston, and Captain Nemo’s was the pizza place next to the Rat.”
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