Saturday, August 27, 2011

Adele Finally Arrives

Can we talk for a minute about how ridiculous service charges are for concert tickets? Good God, they can be close to 50% of the ticket price at times. Back in February when I was down by the venue The Depot I noticed they actually have a box office so you can buy tickets for their venue service charge free. I bought a ticket for Adele thinking not many folks probably knew who she was here in the U.S. but I hoped she could get a decent crowd, especially on Memorial Day weekend and it was only $25 free and clear! Little did I know her second record would be released and she’d blow up in America.

The day of the gig came. We were in the middle of moving house and I actually thought about not going but then thought it might be just what I needed. So I park in one of the parking decks downtown and start walking to the venue. I’m half-way there and I see tour buses parked outside and a crowd milling about. A homeless guy comes out of nowhere and says, “Are you going to that concert (pause waiting for a response) It’s cancelled!!!” He said that last bit with pure delight. I get up there and sure enough there are signs saying that they have cancelled the gig. We learned from her later that she was in the middle of her sound check and it was obvious that she couldn’t go on. She burst into tears and cancelled the rest of her North American dates. I called A and said, “The gig’s been cancelled. You want to go see Bridesmaids?” So the night was not a total bust.

The next week at work I overhear a work colleague that I know very casually sharing with someone else about the gig being cancelled and I couldn’t help myself, I had to go talk to her about it. This was like finding an oasis among all the people that look at me sideways at work when I mention going to a concert. We agreed when the dates got rescheduled, she (E) and I and our other co-worker who also had a ticket (M) would all go together.

So getting back to the service charges…they announce new dates and much to my disappointment, a different larger outdoor venue. I don’t mind outdoor venues but I think an Adele show is better suited to an indoors small club, but heck I’ve got a ticket and I didn’t pay the now $45 plus service charges at the new venue. As we were talking to others while waiting in the crowd, no one seemed to pay less than $70 for their ticket.

We got there super early and sweat in the sun until the gates opened. When they did M got in first. I got stuck at security behind the woman trying to bring a picnic into the venue. He was about three deep to the front of the stage. The venue kinda sucked. The layout was weird and the stage was really low which puts someone’s height into question and how well they can see the stage. M is 6’6”. Now if I were that tall would I go stand in the front of the stage, probably not, but Adele is his favorite and he was undoubtedly the most excited of us three to see the show. I was standing slightly behind him but had a good view of the stage. Then the three harpies came and stood next to me directly behind them. These were three probably college-age very short girls who were pounding the beers and talking about being so drunk when they went to see Britney Spears that they didn’t even remember the show. Okay, immediately my judgemental flag comes up, not because of the drinking but because they think Britney Spears is truly a good night out not understanding the irony of seeing a “concert” of someone who doesn’t even pretend to sing anymore . They are really loud, really obnoxious and start talking about how they’ll probably puke before the night is up. After knocking into me several times and me just ignoring it they start complaining about M and how he is ruining everything because he’s so tall. He needs to move and it gets much worse than that. He can’t hear any of this probably because of the huge distance between his ears and their filthy mouths. Finally right before the opener (Wanda Jackson), they start tapping him to tell him to move. I can’t take it anymore and explain to them that he paid for a ticket just like they did and if they can’t see they need to move somewhere else. This caused a huge argument and in my mind I was thinking of the headline, “Local Woman, 41 Takes out Rage of Past Bad Concertgoers on Three Short Students”. I calmed down, turned to the side and prepared to enjoy Wanda.

If you don’t know who Wanda Jackson is, she’s a contemporary of Elvis Presley, and Jack White recently produced a record for her. She is a living legend, and all I could think was wow, I’d skip Adele if I could go back and just listen to Wanda’s stories. She had a great rockabilly band backing her and she sounded fab. Well, of course the three harpies didn’t appreciate seeing an old woman on the stage and was openly mocking her as well as calling me a “tall bitch”. What’s funny about that is these girls didn’t realize they were secretly delighting me, I mean to focus in on the one physical quality I enjoy in myself, ha! I had the last laugh. But nevertheless, their constant shrill chatter was getting the best of me so I decided to relocate which was kind of a bummer because we had a great spot near Adele’s gay contingent who had great signs and provided a celebratory vibe, unlike “the three”.

So I found myself wandering a bit for a good spot. Adele took the stage with just a piano to sing “Hometown Glory” and the crowd went wild. This venue fit about four times the amount of people as the original venue and also had a several floor parking deck that was full of people looking for a free show. She gave a shout out to the “car park” a few times during the show.

When someone sings a break up song and you’re no near a break up but you feel like she just summed up the way you feel, that’s the real deal. She sounded amazing. My favorite point came towards the end of the show after the sun had gone down and she sang a cover of Bob Dylan’s To Make You Feel My Love, which is on her first record. It was difficult to find a good spot without a lot of chatter, a by-product of the outside venue I think, but during that song, I was by myself in a quiet place and I was moved to tears. When it was time for an encore she let the audience know she was supposed to go off the stage and act like she was done and then come back but she didn’t like encores so she was just going to step off for a moment, kick off her shoes, have a drink and be right back and she was. During the encore she played her most popular singles which the crowd was obviously waiting for. My pal E, having a huge grudge against the “johnny come lately” fans talked through the whole thing saying stuff like, “If she would have played this first I bet half the venue would have cleared out. These people aren’t really fans”. I get the point but again, the chatter was ruining the moment. Can’t that wait for the drive home?

All in all I’m glad I saw her but really wished it would have been back in May in that club setting.

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