I made it to the concert after all. Sue turned out to be much smarter than I had even hoped for and I was finished with her and out the door in 25 minutes. 40 minute later I was at the concert.
Unfortunately, I completely missed REO Speedwagon. I was a little disappointed by that, but reminded myself that they really only had three or four good songs, and the songs I thought were good (Time For Me To Fly, Roll With The Changes, Son of a Poor Man, Flying Turkey Trot) probably weren’t going to make the set list anyway. Plus, I’m sure hearing the has-been version of I Can’t Fight This Feelin’ Anymore would have made me want to jam popsicle sticks into my ears. With that in mind, I didn’t feel all that bad about missing them. And after seeing the band photo on their website, I’m actually kind of glad. Yikes! This is one band that hasn’t aged well.
Styx was… Well… A reality check, I guess. They were my first concert, back at the tender age of 16, and I remember how huge it all seemed — the crowd, the noise, the music, the spectacle… It was hugely exciting. This time around, though, not so much. It was a much smaller venue and crowd — about two steps up from a county fair — and everything was… duller, I guess.
The cheesy diamond-vision display with the MTV circa 1983 kaleidoscope effects didn’t help much. But the band was still working it, rocking pretty hard, trying to get and keep the crowd excited. But really, Tommy, you didn’t have to scream “All right New Hampshire!” between every single song. And I don’t think anybody believed it when you professed “There’s no place we’d rather be tonight than right here in Gilford, New Hampshire! Yeah!” Uh, no.
Still, it wasn’t a bad show. It all seemed a little faded and threadbare and I was getting bored with it, and then they played Grand Illusion. Suddenly it was 1980 again, I had hair again, it was the old Styx again. I was glad I came.
Ah, but Journey… They were really why I was here. Their music had a huge place in my life in high school (yeah, I admit it) and I was peer-pressured out of seeing them when I had the chance back then. This was my chance to right that wrong. Even without Steve Perry, I still wanted to see them. I had heard that their new singer really sound like Perry, so I was expecting faux greatness.
Well. Let me just say that Steve Augeri is no Steve Perry. He had me going for a little while there, I compared him to Perry for the first few songs and he matched up okay. I was beginning to be satisfied. Then he started singing Lights.
Um, no. Not Steve Perry.
He followed that with Open Arms. Really not Steve Perry.
I started walking. I might have stayed for the whole show, but these two disappointments came on the heels of:
- A 5-minute guitar solo rendition of The Star Spangled Banner, followed by…
- A song from their last album that nobody bought, a song that dropped the audience from their feets to their seats as though they’d all been shot simultaneously
- Completely misreading the crowd and stretching this show-stopping (in a bad way) song out with another guitar solo and then coaxing the audience into a sing-along of the chorus that few of us knew
- Augeri prancing around the stage like a gay flamenco dancer
So I was done. I’d seen Journey and could close the book on that unfinished chapter. I walked back to my car, and as I walked I heard them do another new “song” and a keyboard solo. I didn’t regret leaving.
I caught up to Styx’s tour buses on my drive back to my hotel. I passed and left them behind, literally and metaphorically.