Well, in regard to this show, it's rather a case of the proverbial good news and bad news. The good news is that I managed to successfully avoid having to deal with Frank Sullivan for one more show; the bad news is that I didn't get to talk to Jimi, either, making this the first time I've missed out on a bit of "face time" with him at a concert since the very first one I attended back in 2005. I did get a wave and a smile before the show, at least, and the net-friend I went with (she's registered on the C&S message board as "WitchyLady," so I'll refer to her as WL for short from here on out) ran into the whole band at the local airport Sunday morning as both they and she were getting ready to fly home (more on that later) so it wasn't a complete loss. But I have to be honest: As shows go, this one was mediocre at best, and if WL and I hadn't had such a terrific time getting to know one another and talking about all things JJ both before and after the concert itself, I would have felt the whole trip was rather more trouble than it was worth. Now, don't get me wrong--I'm not sorry I went, and it's always a treat to see Himself perform, regardless. But there were a lot of minor problems and annoyances that quickly added up, and with no Jimi-hug to give me something else to remember at the end... well.
So, the story starts when my hubby and I left Denver on Friday the 3rd and drove to Grand Junction, CO. We spent the night in a hotel, the Candlewood Suites at I-70 and 24 Road to be exact (and I can say without reservation that it's one of the nicest hotels I've ever stayed in!) then met WL at the local airport when she flew in Saturday morning. She and I and Peter all went out to lunch after we picked her up, and then we headed back to the Candlewood and spent a couple of hours chatting and whatnot until it got to be late enough that she could check into the hotel where she was staying. Olathe is a little over an hour's drive from Grand Junction, so we got on the road as soon as she had gotten her room squared away and freshened up a bit, knowing we needed to arrive at the Sweet Corn Festival fairly early to have the best chance at scoring some good seats near the stage. We had planned on bringing our own food and eating our supper picnic-style once we got there, but after finding somewhere to park in the festival lot, getting all our gear together (in 95-degree heat, I might add) and walking about half of the way from the parking lot to where the entrance gate was located, we discovered this lovely sign saying "no outside food or drinks allowed." Arrgh! Now, I don't mind if the festival organizers want to restrict that kind of thing and make you buy from the vendors inside; it does cost money to put on an event like this, after all, and they have to make theirs somehow. But for the Gods' sake, ADVERTISE the fact on the festival website for those of us coming in from out of town so we can plan ahead! So we had to turn around and go back to the car (again, in 95-degree heat, carrying heavy folding chairs and all my camera equipment and stuff) and quickly down a few mouthfuls of what food we'd brought with us, then leave the rest and our water bottles in the cooler in the car before walking ALLLLL the way back over to the entrance (still in the heat, and carrying all our gear) to go through the obligatory bag search by the local police, then finally turn in our tickets and get our all-event wristbands. Yeesh.
So, we got inside at last and found our way over to the main stage. Now, I admit, this next bit is mostly my own fault, because I just looked at the area in front of the stage and decided that the far side from the entrance was where we ought to set up, purely because there were fewer people there and we could put our chairs closer. It never even occurred to me that by sitting on that side, we'd be facing west--right into the setting sun--and by the time both WL and I realized the fact, the near side had already filled up with other people and there was no point in moving. Arrgh again! (One more concert-going lesson learned: Use the handy-dandy compass attached to my new carbon-fiber monopod to check the direction at outdoor shows that start while it's still daylight!) Fortunately, I'd left the lens hood that came with my Sigma in the case, so I could snap that on and cut the glare at least by a bit.
Anyway, we sat through the usual speeches, etc. by the people in charge of the festival and the opening act, a local group called the David Starr Band who were actually pretty decent musicians, although I only recognized one song out of their entire set. This all took probably an hour and a half, so in between, WL went and bought us some bottled water from one of the festival vendors and each of us took the opportunity to visit the restrooms while the other kept an eye on our stuff. The festival officials also auctioned off an acoustic guitar which was to be signed by all the members of Survivor before they came onstage, and WL and I both speculated on whether one of us might manage to win it, but they started the bidding at $700--way too rich for my blood--and eventually sold it to some lady who apparently comes to the Sweet Corn Festival every year for $1500.
So, finally all the official stuff was over and the road crew was finishing up the soundcheck when we started seeing band members walking around backstage. I think we spotted Frank first, then Billy [bass] and Walter [keyboards], but a little while later, Jimi himself came out and over to the wings at the end of the stage where WL and I were sitting to get his monitor rigged up--the onstage sound guy was set up right there. So you better believe that both of us jumped out of our chairs and hurried over to get as close as we could! It took a minute for him to turn around to where he could see us, but as soon as he did, we grinned and waved at him and he grinned and waved back. Eventually, though, he moved off out of sight and we went back to our chairs, and a few minutes after that they got the show started in earnest. And again, it was okay, I guess, but I've been to much better. They had audio problems through the entire thing--the main speakers were turned up SO LOUD that I was uncomfortable even with my earplugs in, and Jimi's mike kept cutting out on him at odd moments. When it was working, he sounded great except for a little bit of scratchiness on the high notes, but there were a lot of times when you could scarcely hear him at all, which sort of defeats the whole purpose. Oh, and the setlist was more or less the same as at Hoffman Estates, except that they didn't play "Desperate Dreams" this time; here's the full listing:
Can't Give It Up
Poor Man's Son
Take You On A Saturday
High On You
Rockin' Into The Night
The Search Is Over
I Can't Hold Back
Somewhere In America
Eye Of The Tiger
They also did the same thing as at Hoffman Estates in that they simply closed with EOTT and didn't come back for an encore, perhaps because there was a fireworks display to close the festival itself just after they left the stage. I didn't watch much of it because I was busy swapping lenses on my camera and getting my chair and other gear put away, and after WL had packed up her stuff, too, we walked around to the other side of the stage and inquired of some festival volunteers who were standing right at the security fencing if they knew whether the band would be coming out to sign autographs. They said no, but we decided to hang around for a little while anyway, just in case. (Plus the walkway leading back toward the main gate was really packed with people right then, and I wanted to let things clear out a little before we tried to leave ourselves.) So we stood and waited and watched the goings-on backstage, and it became obvious pretty quickly that the band most likely hadn't stuck around. So after about fifteen minutes we headed on toward the parking lot, and near the main grounds entrance, there was a guy in a "Security" T-shirt guarding a gate where vehicles could drive in and out of the backstage area. We stopped and asked him if he knew whether the band was still around or not, just on the off-chance that maybe we were mistaken, and while he didn't know himself, he was nice enough to call in on his walkie-talkie and ask. He got back the answer that they had indeed already left, so WL and I thanked him for his help, heaved identical sighs of disappointment, headed on to where we'd left the car, and got back on the road to Junction.
Now, this is more or less where the story ends for me--I dropped WL off at the hotel where she was staying and headed back to the Candlewood, where I spent a rather restless night (the hotel was wonderfully quiet, but I always have trouble when I'm up past my regular bedtime) and then had to be up by 7 AM so that Peter and I could get packed and back on the road to Denver. The traffic on I-70 coming into the city is HORRENDOUS on Sunday afternoon and evening, and we wanted to see if we could beat the worst of it by leaving early. Unfortunately, it didn't really help that much; it wasn't as bad as it could have been, I guess, but it still took us over an hour just to get from Dillon through the Eisenhower Tunnel and down to Idaho Springs (a distance of about 30 miles). I had promised WL that I would send her an email when we got home so that she would know we hadn't met with an accident on the road or whatever, but when we actually got back to the house and I was able to download all the messages that had built up while we were gone, there was one from WL herself saying that she'd run into Survivor at the airport and Jimi had said to tell me hello! It was a very short email that I figured she must have sent from her cellphone right after it happened, so I replied and told her that I was seriously envious of her luck and that when she got home and had access to a better connection and keyboard, I wanted DETAILS.
And she was good enough to tell me more about it, later on; I won't recount the entire thing here, but apparently there was no one at the counter for her airline when she was trying to get checked in, and while she was waiting in line, the entire band plus their road manager and some of the crew showed up and she was able to talk to Jimi for a couple of minutes and get a hug and so forth. Which was wonderful for her, of course, and I really am pleased as punch for her sake, but I admit it's rather hard not to go kicking myself, too. I had actually considered spending an extra day in Junction and coming home on Monday, both to avoid the weekend traffic on I-70 and to have a little more time with WL since she and I hadn't met in person before, and if I'd taken her to the airport like I'd thought about doing, I would have been there and could have gotten my own hug! Sigh. Oh well--can't win 'em all, I guess, and in the other years I've been able to get to two shows in a single summer, it seems to be the pattern that one is really something and the other is kind of "eh," so maybe this was just par for the course since Hoffman Estates was so spectacular.