Monday, July 04, 2005

Armageddon It!

There's something that just feels right about hitting the ballpark on July 4th weekend, even if it's to hear music played by Canadians and Englishmen. Having been a fan of both Bryan Adams and Def Leppard for over two decades and having never seen either live, this was my must-see concert of the summer. Called the Double-Header Tour, the two acts are playing shows exclusively in Minor League Stadiums and so I found myself venturing up about 70 miles north to Dutchess Stadium in Wappingers Falls, New York (home of The Hudson Valley Renegades, a Single-A affiliate of The Devil Rays) for the show.

Note: You may be an AT40 geek, if you know that Bryan Adams and Def Leppard debuted with their first Top 40 hits on the same week---w/e April 16th 1983. You are definitely an AT40 geek if you know that it was "Straight From The Heart" coming at #39, while "Photograph" was the highest debut of the week at #32.

Living in Manhattan, it's been a long time since I've driven to a concert and I'd forgotton how backed up the road to a parking lot can become. After making great timing the entire way there, it took us 45 minutes to get off the I-84 exit. We arrived at the stadium lot only to find out it was full and that we'd have to drive another six miles to a mall to catch a shuttle back to the stadium. In short, we arrived about 20 minutes into Bryan Adams' set and I was royally ticked! We missed two of his best songs ("Run to You"; "Somebody") and had to hear two others from outside ("One Night Love Affair"; "Summer of '69"). The show was General Admission and they had way underestimated the appeal for this ticket. There were only 4,500 seats in the stadium and there must have been 15,000-20,000 people in the park. Most were standing on the field and that's where we headed as well. The rest of Bryan's set was decent, but nothing made up for the disapointment of missing four of his best tunes....until it was time for Def Leppard to take the stage!

Now this is what a rock concert ought to be. People standing throughout the show. Fans that know every word of the songs (well, almost every word. It's amazing that after 18 years, people still haven't figured out that they're saying "Sa-te-litte of lo-o-ove" in "Rocket").

We were within 30 feet from the stage in a sea people that seemed to stretch all the way back to the infield and my voice was hoarse by the end of their 90-minute set. They played 'em all: "Women," "Photograph," "Love Bites," "Let's Get Rocked," "Bringing on the Heartbreak," and they saved "Pour Some Sugar on Me" for the final encore.

Def Leppard is now officially on my list of groups that I must see a second time in concert. They were just too much fun this time around and they actually still seem to get the idea of how to put on an exciting live show. Sometime soon, I'm going to write a posting about how some of the best stage acts today are ones that have been around for 25+ years (e.g. Jimmy Buffett, Neil Diamond, The Eagles, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones). As for right now, I'll just say that it was a band from Sheffield, England that helped me properly usher in July 4th, 2005.