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WaterDragon's
Survivor
Concert Tale
Deadwood, South Dakota
18 June, 2005
(Review written approximately 23 June, 2005)

Well, I am pleased to report that I have now seen Survivor live in concert, and it was very, very cool! I had seen so many glowing reviews of their shows from other people that I honestly went into this whole thing wondering if my expectations were so high that I would end up disappointed in some way or another, but nope--they really ARE that good live!

The show we attended was a free concert given as part of the annual "Wild Bill Hickok Days" festival in Deadwood, South Dakota, on Saturday, June 18th, 2005. Since Deadwood is a pretty long drive from Denver, and Peter (my hubby) and I had not had a proper vacation in several years, we decided to coordinate a weeklong road trip with the concert; we drove up to SD just before, went to the show on that Saturday, and then stayed several additional days and took in some of the other local sights before heading home. (You can now look at photos from the rest of that vacation here, if you're so minded, by the by.) We weren't able to get a hotel room right in Deadwood itself, so we stayed in the nearby town of Spearfish. (Which is actually quite a pleasant place; if you ever need a base from which to explore the Black Hills area of SD, I recommend it!) We arrived on Friday afternoon and had a late lunch out, then spent a quiet evening in our hotel room catching up on reading and trying to get our laptop to talk to the hotel's wireless internet network.

Saturday dawned sunny and hot--we spent that morning exploring the DC Booth Historic Fish Hatchery (did you know trout aren't native to the Black Hills?) and it was already close to 90 degrees by about 10 AM. I remember feeling rather sorry for Jimi and the guys since they were going to have to perform in the heat! We had another late lunch out, anticipating that we would not have either the time or the opportunity for any dinner until the concert was over. We knew Denise (an online acquaintence of mine from the Survivor fandom) was flying into Rapid City that day, and she called us at about 3 PM to say that her plane had finally made it in and that she and Brenda (another fan) would be on their way to Deadwood as soon as she'd gotten checked into her hotel and dropped off her luggage. Since Rapid City is about 50 miles from Deadwood and Peter and I only had 15 or so to go from Spearfish, we waited around the hotel until about 4 PM, in the hope that we'd all make it there at approximately the same time.

We arrived in Deadwood shortly afterward, and spent about 20 minutes just trying to find a parking space; everything was very crowded. Finally, we discovered a parking garage (thank the Gods!) not far from where the concert was being held and snagged a space in there. The car thus taken care of, we got all our gear organized (folding chairs, camera bag, etc.) and walked down to Historic Main Street, hoping that we'd spot Denise and Brenda as soon as we got there. (I had seen a pic or two of Denise, but she'd told me on the phone that she'd gotten a haircut, so this was a bit of an adventure... laughing emoticon ) We didn't see them anywhere so Peter and I found an open spot and set up our chairs, figuring that we'd just move if/when we managed to locate the others. (And, fortunately, it turned out that the height of the buildings put most of Historic Main Street in the shade by that time of the afternoon, and there was just a bit of a breeze blowing, so the heat was not nearly as punishing, either for us in the crowd or the guys on stage, as I'd feared it might be.)

Also fortunately, we did manage to finally hook up with Denise and Brenda; they made it about 20 minutes after we did. And as an added bonus, it turned out that Brenda had already claimed a spot right by the metal security fencing in front of the stage, so we were able to move up to what were essentially front-row seats. We were on the far left-hand side of the stage rather than right in the center, but wow--it was still a MUCH better vantage point than I'd ever expected to have at a Survivor show! (Thank you, Brenda!! worshipping emoticon ) We all chatted a bit as the crew finished getting everything set up and tested, but at last it was time to put earplugs in (well, I did... I have sensitive ears, and we were sitting right in front of a big stack of speakers!) and start the show.

A band called "Sacred Cowboys" was first on the bill that afternoon, and they were surprisingly good, actually. Honky-tonk country-western is not normally my kind of thing, but these guys put on quite a decent show. They played for about an hour, and then Ambrosia took the stage after a short break for a soundcheck. I am slightly familiar with them as a band (a local radio station here in Denver plays their songs sometimes) and I had thought that I would probably enjoy them more than the previous group. But... no. They certainly didn't do a BAD show, but it was a lot more lackluster than I was expecting, and I think one of their singers might have been having a bit of a bad night; it was really hard to understand him at times. And they ended up having to cut their set a bit short, but that was fine with me--I was more than ready by then to see the band that I'd actually come to see!

The crew did a final soundcheck, and I got my camera out and took a place right behind the security barrier where I'd have a more-or-less unobstructed view of stage-center--and I will admit that I had a few butterflies in my stomach at that point. I mean, gosh, one of my favorite bands was about to take that stage, and I'd be looking at Jimi Jamison himself from only about 5 yards away! swooning emoticon And, suddenly... there they were! I'd had visions of doing something totally embarrassing like pass out, but it turned out to be just fine--it was definitely an adrenaline rush, and I was snapping pics like a madwoman, but not once did I have any urge to keel over. laughing emoticon

And girls, I am here to tell you that Jimi is ABSOLUTELY every bit as hunky in the flesh as he is in pics and music videos. He might be coming up on 54 this August, but you'd never know it from the shape he's in and the energy he has onstage. All the stories you've ever heard about how fantastic a performer he is... well, take it from me: They're true. He really DOES sound as good live as he does on studio recordings, and the years have been very kind to him--as a matter of fact, I'd venture to opine that he's getting MORE attractive as he ages, rather than less! And Gods, the way he moves is just something else; I don't know whether it's that Leo influence or what, but watching him up on that stage surely put me in mind of something large and feline, like a lion or a tiger or a panther or something... sigh... drooling emoticon

Anyway--the show was fantastic. Everybody was in top form, and there were no real flubs or technical gaffes as far as I could tell. The setlist, as near as I can remember (I had no time to write it down until afterward, and I might have a few of these out of order) was:

First Night
Can't Give It Up
Take You On A Saturday
Poor Man's Son
High On You
I See You In Everyone
Summer Nights
The Search Is Over
I Can't Hold Back
Eye Of The Tiger
Caught In The Game (encore)

Survivor was definitely the band to beat that night; they had the whole crowd on its feet and singing along, which neither of the previous bands had managed at all. My memories of most of the show are a blur of taking pics, cheering and clapping, and singing myself hoarse, but I know I thoroughly enjoyed myself--even my hubby commented afterward that it's been a long time since he's seen me have that much fun! grinning emoticon (He also left me speechless when he said that after seeing him live, now he understands why I lust after Jimi, too! shocked emoticon laughing emoticon )

This was the first Survivor show I've attended, and only my third live concert ever, but I really and truly have to say that it's the best I've been to so far, even if I did have one or two issues with the setlist... I would much rather have heard "Desperate Dreams," "Didn't Know It Was Love," or the title track off Too Hot To Sleep rather than "Can't Give it Up," which is about my least favorite track off that album. And they didn't do ANYTHING off When Seconds Count, darn it. (Someone please tell me that the band themselves don't hate that album as much as all the reviewers seem to... it's my favorite... :begging: ) And I have to be honest, Frankie's extended guitar solo during "I See You In Everyone" just really didn't do it for me. I don't mean to impugn the man's abilities or anything, but I'd have much rather had a shorter solo and maybe got one more song squeezed into the setlist... ah well, can't have it all, I suppose.

In any case, I'm very, very happy that we got to go, and I'm very much looking forward to the show they're doing in Denver later this summer. (Come on, August!) To see the pics I took at this show, click over to the Deadwood Live Gallery, and you can also go here for a listing of ALL my concert pics. Enjoy! grinning emoticon

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