Saturday, June 13, 2015

Live Concerts from Herman's Hermits to Taylor Swift

All of us loaded in the minivan and headed to Charlotte, NC, to the Taylor Swift concert on June 8, 2015.
This week, I treated myself and six of my family members to the Taylor Swift 1989 World Tour concert in Charlotte, NC. Going to this concert was part of my big retirement celebration, and I must say that the concert didn’t disappoint. The tickets for which I paid over $200 each did disappoint, however. Everyone still enjoyed the experience of being at this live concert.

I love live entertainment – plays, concerts, etc. – and have been to several musical concerts over my 57 years. The first one I remember going to was in Montgomery, AL, and was really more of a music festival because it involved several “big-name” entertainers. The show was sponsored by the local AM radio station WBAM, the Big Bam, and the show was aptly called The Big Bam Show.

I remember seeing such big names at the time as Paul Revere and the Raiders, Herman’s Hermits, Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, and The Carpenters. I must have been around 12 or 13 and I went with a friend who was the same age which seems strange to me now. Who drops his/her 12-year-old kid off at a concert now? No one in his right mind! But times were different then, and the venue was clean and orderly.

My next big concert was to see Eric Clapton in Birmingham. I was 14 and won four tickets and transportation to and from the show on a charter bus sponsored by another local radio station. My mom wasn’t too keen on my going because it was a “rock” concert, but she reluctantly let me and three of my friends go. Honestly, I wasn’t a fan of Clapton then, and the attendees and their activities were eye-openers to me.

After Clapton, I don’t remember going to any concerts until college. Troy State University always had a concert each school quarter and the cost was included in student fees. I saw Jimmy Buffett, Dolly Parton, and Andrew Gold (who?). I also saw The Captain and Tennille and Waylon Jennings during the college years.

After I married, concert-going wasn’t a priority, but I did manage to see Loretta Lynn at the Ocean Opry in Panama City Beach. Then around 1990 I took my then seven-year-old son to see M.C. Hammer and Boys 2 Men. That was a huge production with lots of dancing and costume changes. That’s the first concert I saw that was more than just singing. Also, it’s the loudest performance ever. My chest vibrated the next day from the intense bass, and my ears rang for a week.

One of the best concerts I saw in the 1990s was Cher’s Farewell Tour. I have always been a huge Cher fan from when she was a duo with Sonny until now. I had her album Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves on 8-track and listened to it over and over. She isn’t the best singer, but she is a fantastic performer.

Since Cher, I have seen many musicians perform – Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, Hunter Hayes, Sugarland, Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire and Lee Ann Womack (twice), and George Strait, the king of country music. (Note: I've included a link to my favorite Strait song performed live.)

What’s so great about seeing/hearing a performer live? Part of the draw is the anticipation of what he/she is going to look like or sound like, of what kind of relationship he/she will have with the audience and of what the other spectators will look and act like. At the end, I just want to see if I got my money’s worth. I know that I can hear these singers on the radio, buy their music on iTunes or watch their videos on YouTube. However, it just doesn’t compare to being in a 15,000+ seat coliseum that’s packed with people who are all wanting to see the same person and have the same experience.

Which were my favorite concerts? I’d have to say that Cher was probably number one simply because I had been a fan for so long when I did see her. I also liked Reba McEntire and Carrie Underwood because both were big productions with lots of costume changes. Taylor Swift was great, too, because she wanted to really connect to her audience, especially the young girls. She also had a gimmick given to every attendee, a light-up wristband which flashed in time with her songs. The tech people had control of the wristband during the concert just like Taylor controlled the crowd. I don’t want to know how this worked technically, but everyone got to keep the band at the end. Now it just flashes when you moved it. At the end, we got to take home a flashing wristband and the memory of a great concert.

Which concert/performer was your favorite?