Oh, MY.... I'm not certain whether all of you out there reading are going to be pleased for me or want to kill me, but I'm also not certain that I care. I had a TREMENDOUS time at this show--I think I still like Jimi's solo performances better that the ones he does with Survivor, partly because they tend to be a bit more relaxed and partly because I miss hearing "Is This Love" on a regular basis, but this one was definitely worth the time and effort it took to go. For one thing, the dreaded 20-minute guitar solo never materialized; Frank did play a couple of solos during the course of the show, but he kept both of them pretty reasonable timewise, I think the longest was maybe five or six minutes. (Will wonders never cease!) But quite apart from that, I had two dreams realized at this show, one of which I'd rather given up on, and the other... well, just keep reading!
Since this performance was relatively close to Milwaukee, as has become my habit, I flew from Denver to there on Thursday the 5th and got in a lovely visit with my friend Irene (who has been to a couple of other concerts with me in the past) and then the two of us drove down to Chicago on Saturday for the show. The entire midwest was in the grip of a monster heat-wave at that point, and it had been horribly hot and humid for the first couple of days I was there--I think it was still 100 degrees or more even after sunset on Thursday, and Friday wasn't much better. Saturday started off still punishingly hot, but in a stroke of incredible luck, the worst of it broke sometime that afternoon, and by the time the two of us got down into IL for the show, it was only a little above 70 degrees and remarkably pleasant compared to what it had been like that morning. I was afraid it might rain (particularly since I've got expensive camera equipment to think about now!) but we never got so much as a sprinkle.
Anyway, we got to the Sears Event Center REALLY early; Irene wanted to make extra-sure that we didn't get stuck in traffic somewhere en route and end up missing part of the show, so the act before Survivor was only just starting up when we arrived. We hung out in her car in the parking lot and talked for a little while before we finally got all our stuff together and headed out to find a place to sit. It turned out that this was a VERY well-attended show; the crowd probably numbered several thousand people at least, and most of the really good spots were already taken, so we had to set up our chairs a long way back from the stage. And on top of that, there was a big area right in front which had been fenced off for what I assume were VIP attendees--family members of the guys in the band and so forth. Irene said she was fine staying at the further vantage point and keeping an eye on all our gear, so I swapped my 75mm Tamron lens for my new 200mm Sigma and toted camera and monopod down to where there was still an open space right at the security fencing with a good view of center stage. (And I am SOOOOOOOO glad I decided to go ahead and bring the Sigma with me, even though it's huge and weighs a friggin' ton--the Tamron performed admirably for Red Wing, when I was able to get right up next to the stage, but I really needed something with a greater zoom range for this show or I'd have not gotten any good pics at all!)
So, I found a spot to stand and got everything set up and ready for picture taking, and Jimi was certainly nice to look at when everyone finally came out on stage--he was in jeans and a white shirt! But even if he'd worn some other outfit--hell, even if I hadn't been able to take any pics!--I wouldn't have wanted to miss this show. Because a few songs in, they played "Desperate Dreams" from Too Hot To Sleep, and OMG, it was FANTASTIC. I have wanted to hear that song done live for YEARS, and I honestly thought I never would, that it wasn't popular enough or whatever. So that made me ridiculously happy almost right off the bat, and I didn't even mind too much that they also played a lot of stuff from the years and albums before Jimi joined the band, which I don't tend to like as well as the more radio-friendly stuff from the later 80's. And since we're on the subject, here's the complete setlist:
Can't Give It Up
High On You
Poor Man's Son
Take You On A Saturday (okay, I admit, this is the one older song I don't really mind them doing )
Rockin' Into The Night (apparently Jim Peterik originally wrote this for Survivor, but they ended up not using it, so .38 Special recorded it instead)
[keyboard solo] (I'm not sure whether they were having technical issues with the sound and used this to fill in the gap while they fixed it, or if they just wanted to give Walter Tolentino his moment in the spotlight, but either way, I thought this was quite lovely, and I usually get bored with stuff like instrument solos pretty quickly at shows)
The Search Is Over
I Can't Hold Back
Somewhere In America
Eye Of The Tiger
The show lasted about an hour and a half altogether, and they simply closed with "EOTT," rather than leaving the stage and then coming back for an encore. I waited just long enough to make sure that they really were done, then unhooked my camera from my monopod and hurried around to the back of the stage. It was also fenced off for security, but I figured that was still where I had the best chance of at least being able to wave at Jimi as he went by, even if he couldn't stop to chat or sign an autograph. I saw Marc Droubay [drums] escorted out early on, and I overheard a couple of the police officers on guard duty talking about how he had left sooner than everyone else because he wasn't feeling well. So I figured, okay, I must be in more or less the right place, and I put my camera and monopod away in my backpack and got my One Man's Trash CD and a Sharpie marker out, just in case. And I waited, and waited, and waited some more, chatting a bit with some other fans, handing out a couple of calling cards for C&S and inviting folks to visit, etc. My hopes of seeing Jimi were really beginning to fade by the time the security guys opened the fence a bit so that some of the stage crew could back a truck in and start loading equipment into it, but then I noticed Irene standing on the far side of the fenced-in area, in front of the stage, and she was pointing to one side, in front of a little building where I guess the band's dressing rooms were located. Silly me, I didn't figure out what she was trying to tell me right away, but a minute or two later someone came around and said to a lady I'd just been talking to about what a sweet guy Jimi is that he was signing autographs on "the other side." Which finally made both she and I realize that we were waiting in the wrong place, and so we hurried on around to the RIGHT place!
When we got there, it turned out that both Frank and Jimi were signing autographs, and it was obvious the whole thing was quite impromptu; people were crowded up against the security fencing any which way rather than forming an orderly line, etc. So I admit I took advantage of being a little late to the party, and just turned sideways and jammed myself in right at the front on Jimi's side of the gathering. And it did take me a few moments to get his attention, once I got near enough for him to hear me calling his name over the general noise, but as soon as I did... um. I'm honestly not even sure how to describe this, other than to say that I got QUITE the greeting. I doubt he had noticed me actually during the show, where I was so far back from the stage and everything, but as soon as he got a closer look and realized who I was, he exclaimed, "Hey, girl, good to see you!" and it was obvious from his tone that he really WAS pleased. And then... okay, let me back up for just a second. Up until this point, 2012 had not been the best of years for me; without going into every detail, the first few months were packed with enough family drama to last anyone a lifetime, and then just as that was starting to settle down, my husband developed some health issues that we had trouble getting our regular physician to even take us seriously about, much less treat. By the time July rolled around, the family stuff was more or less sorted and we had changed doctors, and the new one was not only taking us seriously but getting us answers that several other specialists hadn't managed to find. So life was already starting to improve on a number of different fronts, but I had still said to myself before coming to this show, You know, after dealing with all this crap, I could REALLY use a big old Jimi-hug to make me feel better. Well--fast-forwarding back to the show--not only did he lean right over that security fence and pull me into the exact hug I had wanted so much, but then he turned his head a little further so that I got a distinct whiff of his aftershave. (And a delightful whiff it was, too--I couldn't even begin to make a guess at a brand name, but what I CAN say is that it was clean and spicy and absolutely masculine, very much like Da Man himself!) And THEN... well, it was one of those moments when time seems to slow down, and the progression of my thoughts went something like: What on earth--? Is he really--? Uh, yes. Yes. He is. Kissing me. On the side of my neck. Oh, MY... brain... leaking... out... ears...! (And before anyone asks: Yes, the reality more than lived up to all the daydreams I've had on the subject! SIGH...)
Anyway, I'm sure you can imagine that I was just a weensy bit dazed after this VERY unexpected demonstration of affection (honestly, I thought Irene was going to have to mop me up with something and tote me back to the car in a bucket--talk about puddle of goo city! ) but by the time he let me out of the hug, I had managed to recover my wits enough to at least hand him my CD to sign. And this is something I don't normally make a big deal out of, but Jimi has visited C&S a time or two in the past, most recently just a couple of weeks prior to this particular show. I had sent him an email to tell him about the new Jimi's Wing and invite him to stop by if he had a few minutes and was interested in seeing the improvements, and he did indeed pay a virtual call shortly thereafter. And he was awfully sweet and complimentary to me about the whole thing when we spoke that night; I think his exact words were that I'd done "a real bang-up job," whereupon I thanked him and said it was a labor of love. (Which it definitely is--good grief, every time I think I can't possibly adore the guy any more than I already do, he goes and proves me wrong! ) There were a lot of other people still waiting for autographs and to say hello and everything, so I didn't try to keep him for any longer than that, but DANG, what an evening!
So, yeah--I definitely had a good time, and would go back and do it all over again if I could! Since that's most likely not going to happen, though, you can at least go and check out all the pics I took, and I will note that I think the ones from this show are some of the best I've gotten with my new camera thus far. The gallery is here, and you can of course find all my live shots in their usual location. Hope you enjoy looking as much as I enjoyed taking them!