Thursday, August 28, 2014

Boston Comes to Baltimore

And I’m not talking about the stinkin’ Red Sox, I’m talking about:

Boston, a major touchstone of my teen years, came to the Pier Six Pavilion Tuesday night.  Earlier this spring, I mentioned that I scored a ticket and planned to go alone.  I also mentioned I passed up a much closer seat because I was worried about getting my ears blasted out.

Tuesday was actually the start of what will be a busy week for me.  Wednesday I had an Orioles game, (and possibly one tomorrow), Saturday is the Ohio State/Navy game, Sunday I plan to go to the State Fair and make my annual bets on the ponies, and then top it off Monday afternoon with another Orioles game.  (It’s a bobblehead give-away day.)

So with Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s events taking place after work, within walking distance of the office, I had to be super-organized to make sure I brought the right stuff with me to work each day, (clothing, camera, tickets, etc.) knowing I’d have to leave my travel bag at the office both nights.  Extensive lists were involved.

One of the most important things on the list was for me to be sure to bring my ear plugs.  Even in my prime concert-going years, I always brought a pair of those spongy industrial ear plugs, because some of those bands were seriously LOUD.  With the onset of tinnitus I already have, I didn’t want to tempt fate to make it any worse.

As soon as I got home on Monday, I put the ear plugs and ticket in my travel bag.  What I didn’t foresee was that I’d also need another list to remind me what to bring from the office to the show, because as I realized about an hour before show time, I left the fucking earplugs in my bag.

It sucks getting old.  But believe me, I was in good company.  The crowd for Boston was predominantly in their 50s and 60s.  I’ve never seen so many old people at a rock concert.  (Yes, I know I’m 52, but you wouldn’t know it from my behavior.)

Boston’s first album came out in 1976, when I was 15.  So I suppose anyone who was in their early 20s at that time, is solidly in the crowd range I described.  All I can say is that when we all start hitting the retirement homes, they’re going to have to completely change their entertainment programs.  Lawrence Welk, Glenn Miller, Sing Along with Mitch: OUT.  Boston, ZZ Top, BTO, Bob Seger: IN.

The venue was real nice; right on the water.  In fact a number of boats had anchored there, in order to hear a free concert.  (All they could do was listen, because the end of the venue is raised, there is no direct sight line from the harbor.)

Taken from directly behind seating area.

I made the mistake of checking out the tour merchandise.  How depressing.  Flippin’ $40 for a flippin’ t-shirt???  That’s almost the price of the ticket.  Back when I was going to concerts regularly, t-shirts were $18-$20, and I thought THAT was a ripoff!  Granted, that was about the price of the ticket then, too.

When I found my seat, I suddenly realized why there was a single seat available there.  Can you say limited view?  I was behind a freakin’ pole.

OK, it was “partially” limited view.  The pole cut off the far left side of the stage, where I could see a mic stand (if I leaned around the pole).  What blocked off the rest of the stage were the four numbskulls who insisted on standing up during the opening act.  It’s one thing when everyone in the place is standing, but not when you’re the only ones.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again.  Whether it’s a ballgame, a concert, or whatever… if you’re the only one standing up, you’re an asshole.  In fact, I probably ought to add that to the Book of Bluz.  

But because I didn’t really care for the opening band, I just sat there.  I wasn’t missing anything.  Not to mention, it’s my policy not to mess with someone who’s not only wearing a Harley t-shirt, but also sporting a tattoo on his skull

But soon, some other people got an usher to come over and reason with the idiots.  That didn’t work, so then a much larger usher came over, and he and the diminutive but muscle-bound idiot proceeded to argue it out.  The idiot’s primary argument (and it’s such a common and self-centered point) was that he paid his money, so he can stand if he wants to.

When I heard that gem come out, I hollered, “But so did we!”  Obviously, everyone standing behind these dipshits paid their money too, and didn’t appreciate the unbroken view of their asses.

Anyway, a moment later, an usher woman, who appeared to be the supervisor, came over to chase the large usher away, and continue to try to persuade the standees to become sittees.  She went away, and the standers continued to stand and sway, but only until that song ended.  THEN, they finally sat down.

At that point, Harley and his buddy disappeared.  Later when different people sat down, I realized they had just been squatting there.  Then after the opening band was done, the other two left as well.  Must have been big fans.  It was a local band, so they were probably friends.

I don’t know if it was because of Boston, or the venue, but everything else seemed to go like clockwork.  The openers started exactly at 7:30, were done at 8:15, then Boston came on precisely at 9:00.  (And played for exactly an hour and 45 minutes.)

Tom Scholtz, founder, writer, guitarist and keyboardist for Boston.

When they came out of the gate with “Rock and Roll Band” and “Smokin’,” from their debut album, all minor inconveniences about cement poles and cement heads were gone.  I was especially glad that I got to hear Tom Sholtz  play that big “church organ” right away, during the solo on “Smokin’.”  They sounded brilliant and played with an effortlessness that makes you feel like you could go up there and join in yourself, skills or no skills.

Tom Scholtz playing the big Phantom of the Opera Church Organ.

For the opening act, I had McGuyvered some ear plugs out of pieces of a bar napkin, but took them out almost immediately.  Boston's sound was very well balanced; loud, without being deafening.

I had been wondering how they would sound, what with their original singer being dead and all.  Not many singers have the range of Brad Delp.  But this dude Tuesday night was pretty close.  And to simulate the incredible high-octave harmonies for which Boston is famous, they had a female guitar player and vocalist; a tall, lanky blond who if she had to be obscured by a pole, I would have preferred it to have been mine.

There was intermittent standing and sitting, and I was OK with that.  Usually if the song was slow, or new, people sat.  When the classics came out, we stood.  Then of course, there are the other times, when someone just doesn’t get the message.

As usual, right smack between me and the middle of the stage.

So, the band played absolutely every song I went in there wanting to hear, and I’m pretty sure everyone else agreed with me.  You should have seen the people bolting early, at the onset of the encore.  It’s looked like there was 4 minutes left at a Penguins game.  You know old people… always wanting to beat the traffic. 

Even though I didn’t need to worry about traffic, (because I rode the subway) I got up halfway through the encore song, because A) I didn’t know it, B) given how timing of the whole night, I was sure it was going to be the only encore, and C) I wanted to get out of the seating area, so I didn’t get stuck in a slow-moving mob trying to squeeze through the same aisle.

As I was going through the early evening, suffering one annoyance after another, I began to wonder whether I made the proper call… to come to the show on my own.  I wondered if I was getting too old for this shit anymore.  Then the next thing I knew, I was healed by the redemptive power of rock and roll.  Couple of power chords and some snappy hooks, and all was right in my world.

Maybe those talentless, auto-tuned YouTube hacks will take notice and start producing music that will still be relevant in 30 years.  Not holding my breath though…

1 comment:

Agree? Disagree? Tell me what you think!

Note: Spam comments will never EVER see the light of day. Don't even bother because I'm way more stubborn than you.