Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Friday afternoon I got a call from a vendor I deal with on a weekly basis asking if I'd like to go to the Bryan Adams/Foreigner concert on Saturday night. I wouldn't have sought those tickets, but thought it might be fun. Holly had just come by my office to meet my puplet, and we picked up the tickets on the way to dinner at House Of Blues. I axt Hols if she wanted to come to the concert with me. Lo and behold, if they weren't VIP tickets, including VIP parking and the whole ball of wax.

I did like a few Bryan Adams songs, but only really became aware of him after high school. On the other hand, for me Foreigner was ever evocative of kids my age or slightly older who were getting up to mischief-- the kids who were drinking and smoking pot, both of which I had no use for. For some reason, the idea of teenagers getting polluted was particularly seedy and sad to me, and not my cup of tea. Even with that association, there were a few Foreigner songs I really liked, and the vocalist was quite good. I would generally take pains to avoid any nostalgia-oriented concert, but this seemed like a lark. Why not?

Saturday evening Hols and I went for the yummy chile rellenos at Matt's Rancho Martinez, and then moseyed over to the Superpages Center and arrived just in time for the show. Walking in, I saw a lot of people reliving their heyday. I looked around and thought "Damn! These people got old." Not me man. No way. No how. Not much, anyhoo.

Our box seats were super-comfortable. Unfortunately, a 6'12" man in the row in front of the box stood for nearly the first half of Bryan Adams' set. Good for him-- I'd hate his short ass to miss out on anything. Anyway, BA sounded great. The problem was rather than losing myself in the collective revisionism of "those were the best days of my life" songs from the glory days, the music made me feel a little sad. I've never felt like what was on the radio was reflective of my life, and although I know the hit music of my lifetime is in some way branded on my psyche and might be recognized by an outsider, I just don't see it as being a part of who I am or was at any moment in my life. When everyone was foaming at the mouth over Janet Jackson, I was eagerly awaiting new offerings by Love & Rockets and Cocteau Twins. Sundry hairgod bands came and went and I wondered if Killing Joke would ever come to town (they did, finally in 1991). I eschewed big arena pop and rock concerts in favor of the small venue peopled by a devoted and more cerebral following. This was the expression of where I was at the moment. [Yeah, Butthole Surfers' Hairway to Steven is super-brainy stuff! the editor]

Anyhoo, to hear Bryan Adams singing "baby you're all I want when you're lying here in my arms," I felt really wistful because everyone seemed swept along a cresting wave of bliss, and it just wasn't there for me. Yeah, he's a fantastic musician, and that song is beautifully written, but that sappy, gooey sort of love song extols a kind of feeling I suppose I've never really believed existed. Maybe that's my problem - I'm too cynical for pop fluff love songs. Anyway, it made me sad to sit there and think that the manufacturer left out my romance chip. What does that feel like? Aw, heck. Screw it. Ironically, I think Foreigner neglected to sing "I want to know what love is." Or maybe I was running my mouth when they did that number and missed it utterly. Wouldn't surprise me.

At the end of BA's set, he did two more songs for an encore with just his harmonica and guitar. That was the best part of the show, in my opinion. Holly and I hastened to the VIP bar with its (glory the day of our deliverance) air conditioner and air conditioned bathrooms. It was, like, 102 degrees that day, y'all. We went into the bathroom and I was finishing up at the sink, washing my hands, when a stall door flew open behind me. It was a pretty-ish sort of woman, obviously deee-runk to the gills, and sitting on the terlit with her drawers around her knees. She said "I'm so glad y'all are still here with me!" I don't know if she'd confused us with other companions, but she'd obviously heard me and Holly talking. She finally said "I'm so drunk!" Really? We didn't notice. *blink* *blink* That was colorful. We left the loo and I said "dibs on blogging that" and Holly said "you can have it. You were the one talking to her" in an accusatory tone. I felt taken aback, as if I'd just been told that I was asking for it. What can I say? I'm a weirdo magnet.

Back to the bar, we bought a couple ghastly expensive drinks so we could sit in the A/C a little longer. Furriner took the stage about 10pm, and we stayed and watched the show on the big screens in the bar. We giggled about the strange men who were harrassing the barkeep. We think guys with bad toupees shouldn't pick fights, for they are vulnerable in very obvious ways. You'll have to see Holly's blog - I'm sure her take on the event will make for better reading.

We went back into the arena for some of the Foreigner set, and drumgod Jason Bonham was actually quite impressive. The best moment of the show was when Juke Box Hero morphed into the vamp from Whole Lotta Love and the singer launched into "you need foolin." Okay, that part was actually fantastic. But otherwise, it was a trip down someone else's memory lane.

The people watching was priceless, though. These days, rather than beers and lighters, audience members hoist aloft bottled water and sherbet-colored frozen fruit drinks in oddly shaped plastic vessels. Riches to be mined, the veins of fashion emergency fodder were more vast than their matrices. *shudder* Holly looked amazing in a white linen dress, and I wore something I'd wear to a movie. Yeah, I looked like I work in an office-- so what? At least I didn't pour my 2008 ass into my 1985 jeans with a "Frankie Say" t-shirt. One guy looked like he was channeling the singer from Loverboy with the bandanna and everything. I got out my celica foam and googled "hanky code" but we never figured out what message he was trying to convey.

Anyway, it was fun, even with the not so exultant moments, and I'm glad we went. Times out with Holly are always a blast, and we each seem perpetually to be inducing one another to snort beverage out our noses. Irreverent women-- ya gotta love us.

I dunno, though: thinking back to the times when all these songs came out-- those weren't the best days of my life. Maybe these are? Somehow, though, I don't think I'll ever get there-- feeling like one moment excelled all others. I think a balanced life features a sobering mixture of the good and the bad, and if you are riding high and feeling untouchable/unbeatable/unstoppable, you are due for a major tumble. Maybe it's just best not to take any of it for granted.

Then again, maybe that is the ultimate function of nostalgia - to feel that everything happens in its time and place, and that even with bittersweet perspectives on what has been, you have ended up where you ought to be.
Who knows?
Ask me again in 30 years.


lainy said...

Thanks for taking me down memory lane.

Great post.

Holly is a wonderful woman. I think we're better people just by knowing her.

B said...

What color was the bandanna and which pocket was it in?

Christina LMT said...

I see what I miss out on by living in Lost Wages, dammit!

I've finally figured out why I'm a little reluctant to go to live events...I'm always worried someone on stage will screw up. So I have a problem relaxing and just enjoying myself. Maybe it's the company I keep...?

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I'm pretty certain I would have had the same take on the concert as you (which is yet another reason we have to go concerting together some day), as those were certainly not the best days of my life either, and I could never tolerate top 40 radio, although back then we did not have many alternatives.

Didn't the experience make you glad to be you?

HollyB said...

OK, NOW you've Shelley Doone it! I'll Wright my Woolfe-ish version of the events in my own Joyce[bad pun, blame my English Lit background]
It was a blast, though not entirely in the way the planners intended, I'm sure.

Thud said...

killing joke!..you surprise me...I toured with them back in the 80's....rather good.

phlegmfatale said...

lainy - you're welcome! Yup - Hols rocks.

b - i'm not going there! :P

christina - You're so bloody German, honey! It's the screw-ups that make the performance unique and enjoyable, as with your life. Learn to enjoy them.

barbara - Yeah, we've totally got to go to meet at a festival someday. Coachella?

hollyb - We're in for it now, folks!

thud - And now YOU surprise Me! *SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEE* Touched by greatness! In what capacity were you touring with them? Was Big Paul still with them then? He's such an amazing drummer. Love the whole band, actually. They need to re-vamp "Eighties" as "Oughties," btw.

Kelly said...

<------- is totally jellus

Buck said...

Very nice narrative, Phlegmmy! I doubt if I would have gone to that concert, not being a fan of either BA or Foreigner. Even for free, for exactly the reasons you riffed on oh-so-well. Nostalgia ain't my cuppa, nor are folks who wallow in it.

re: the romance chip. I really can (and do) relate to the sentiment in that BA song you briefly quoted. There's a serious, almost life-threatening downside to that "you're my everything" emotion, though. Like when it's over. Don't ask how I know...

And that ol' saw about "it's better to have loved and lost..."? Pure BS. I'm hesitant to say it, but... You're (almost?) lucky your chip was left out. IMHO.

Thud said...

Paul was still drumming through most of the time we worked together...I did some recording with them after Raven joined on bass...ah a wasted youth! Before that I had played in a liverpool band called echo and the bunnymen (for a short while)...I have a sordid musical history...ha!

phlegmfatale said...

kelly - awww, you have nothing to be jealous of!

buck - ah, but you said (almost?), so, not quite lucky. alas.

thud - omg - I'm peeing myself!