My First Rock Concert

(spring 2008)

I’ll be happy to stipulate at the outset that most of the problem is with me.  There is a certain dollop of soul missing from my ingredients and, like unleavened bread, I have mostly failed to rise.I’ve simply never had the music in me.

Don’t get me wrong, I like music just fine and it can be quite nice to have a soundtrack to my day, but it’s almost always something external, a set piece, an acquaintance kept at some distance.  Last night, it was at the length of a foam earplug – I went to my first rock concert.

I don’t much go to concerts, but that has nothing to do with the music.  It’s the people.  Large groups of enthusiastic strangers rarely bring out the best in me.  And I don’t have any of last night’s fare in my own music collection.  Last night was for brownie points.  My husband was, and is, a big fan of the band, Def Leppard.  For the price of the endless goodwill of my spouse, we got to hear three bigname (if old school) bands.

I’m not going to be unkind (well, yes, I probably am) but let’s just say that if the year is 2008 and you are in the band REO Speedwagon, you should probably wear a shirt while working at anything other than gardening.  And maybe even then too, just to avoid sunburn.   There’s something to be said for knowing your place in the rockitude food chain.  Unfortunately, that’s all I really have to say about that portion of the show.

Afterwards, that band got the biggest gufffaw of the night for asking $50 for a logo tee shirt.  Get real.  You may be wanting to give those away, boys, publicity being what it is.

Styx was talented, though.  Over the years, they’ve shuffled band members to the point that nothing sounds like it did on the radio, which is a shame.  I think there should be a law that if  two roadies and the bass player are all that’s left from the band’s heyday, you should have to change the name.  But still, they made a pleasing, if really, really loud, noise.  I had two major complaints, though.  (Only two – that’s not so bad, now is it?)

First, fairly high up on the list of things-that-are-tedious are  endless grinding and screeching flourishes.  It’s indulgent and unbalancing to the audience.  We don’t know when to clap.  If they’d have stopped the songs where the blessed things ended, they’d have had time for ‘Mr. Roboto’ and ‘Babe’.  If you’re going to do Styx, there are going to be certain expectations.

The other problem was ‘Renegade’.  I only agreed to this whole undertaking (in the row I had with myself over the expenditure of eardrum vs. money element) to hear that song.  It has to be started a capella from silence.  It wasn’t.  And the singer kept interrupting the opening lines by tipping the microphone at the mooing herd in the first eight rows.  I didn’t pay to hear them moan.  I’d probably pay them not to.  They didn’t give me the chance.

Anyway, at a point, I was becoming skeptical of the whole production.  Come to think of it, I think that point was in the car on the way to the show when we realized it was too late to stop for dinner first.  But there was a White Knight.  And his name was Showmanship.  Def Leppard was tremendous.  Go figure.  And what I said about certain people keeping their shirts on?  There are double standards that are delightful, no matter if you’ve seen fifty winters.  If your name is Phil Collen and you wring a guitar for Def Leppard, you should never wear a shirt ever.  Not even in church.

Joe Elliott can still sing.  A one-armed drummer smashing his toys rightly is still as cool as it ever was.  And the angelic sound crew knew how to keep it crisp without making our ears bleed.

I clapped.  I cheered.  I didn’t know the words and still I even shook a hip.  And, believe me, my wiggle is highly reclusive.

I don’t know that I’m a Def Leppard fan, but I do know that I didn’t want my money back.  Great show.

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