Max and I went to see a Billy Joel concert the other night with some very good friends. We are all “people of a certain age.” As you might expect, given that the performer was Billy Joel (and Billy Joel is 72 years old), most of the audience were contemporaries of ours. Some were younger, and some were just trying to be younger.
I cannot remember the last time I went to a full-on rock concert in an outside stadium. I think it was probably some time around 1985. Since this was another lifetime ago, I did not expect to know how things worked. Luckily, our friends set the whole thing up- bought the tickets, drove to the venue, and found parking. This relieved me of some of the stress of “being responsible” for everyone’s enjoyment. I could just wait and see what it would be like to view the concert with 70,000 other fans.
I dressed in my rocker chick chic outfit- black jeans, black boots, and a sparkly blouse. I took great care with my makeup, hair, and jewelry. I felt a little bit badass.
Our tickets said that the show started at 8:00pm. The doors were supposed to open at 6:30 and the parking lots were supposed to open at 4:30. We, of course, planned to be there very early. We decided not to go out to dinner because we did not want to risk missing anything. We bought Subway sandwiches before we left our neighborhood and decided to eat them in the car in the parking lot. It would be a sort of “tailgate” tailgate party. Another other interesting thing we learned before we went to the stadium were that we could not bring in any normal-sized purse or handbag. Based on the acceptable dimensions on the venue’s website, an allowable bag would be so tiny that even my phone would not fit in it. I decided to go with option 2- a clear plastic gallon-size Ziplock bag. This accessory did not exactly go with my rocker chick vibe, but at least I could carry my essentials.
I do not think having this kind of restriction on bags was in keeping with the demographic of the audience. Most of the women were conditioned, after 50 years of being “pack mule mommas” to fill their purses with every possible thing their children or significant other might need to protect them from catastrophe. Also, given the age of most of the audience, it seemed likely that the only drugs we were trying to hide were prescription arthritis, diabetes, and blood thinner medications. At one point, I thought I smelled weed, but it was probably someone smoking medical marijuana.
The venue also did not permit visitors to bring umbrellas into the stadium. It is freakin’ Florida! Earlier in the day, there had been almost monsoon level rainstorms. We just hit a lucky patch in that the skies cleared by late afternoon. If the rain had come in the evening, when it usually does, an umbrella prohibition would have been serious business.
My rocker chick chic persona did not last very long. I had to zip up my furry black coat against the cold. The temperature was unseasonably cold for central Florida in March, with a wicked wind. I am sure the promoters never expected an arctic blast to descend on the Camping World stadium in Orlando, Florida. We old people in Florida typically travel with sweaters to take off the air conditioning chill in restaurants. Even I, who almost always run hot, was freezing the night of the concert. With my black jacket zipped up, I no longer displayed any sight of my sparkly blouse. I looked like an old lady, which, of course, I am.
Even on the stage, Billy Joel immediately donned a stocking cap over his bald head after his initial introduction. By three songs into his set, he added a woolen scarf. By the second half of the concert, his back-up singer was wearing a towel over her head and shoulders to keep her vocal cords warm.
I figured that the concert would start at 8:00pm, since this was the time advertised. We parked at around 5:00pm and got in line to get into the stadium at around 6:00pm. The process was actually quite easy. Then we sat. And sat. And sat some more. I guess everyone is supposed to know that rockers are just kidding when they state a start time. Finally, at around 8:30, Billy Joel rolled out on the stage. At least, it looked like he did on the jumbotron screens. We had expensive seats, but there was still no way anyone could have identified the headliner without benefit of jumbotron because the distance to the stage was just too great. We could not have seen the actual real live Billy Joel, even with our bifocals on. At first this bothered me. We were paying close to $300 for each ticket. If we were going to watch the concert on a screen, could we not have done something similar sitting at home in front of YouTube?
The fact that the concert was supposed to start at 8:00pm was already problematic for me. I am usually in bed by 9:30. I was never a late-night kind of gal and, in my dotage, the term “early bird special” is my jam. Still, I figured I could handle at 8:00pm start time. I figured the concert would last about 75-90 minutes and we would get home at around 11. I knew I was not going to turn into a pumpkin and figured it would be good for me to clast some icons of my life. However, when the concert did not start until 8:30 and the singing went on until after 10:30, I did feel stressed, I might turn into a pumpkin. We probably would not make it home until after midnight. As it turned out, it was closer to 1:00pm AND it was the “spring ahead” night for Daylight Savings Time. I’m not sure I wanted to clast icons quite that big, but I told myself that, as my life coach says, “I am a person who tries new things.” That phrasing is more palatable than “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
Yes, I was out much later than comfortable for me. Yes, the timetable for the concert was hopelessly out of whack. Yes, the cold was cutting into my bones. Yes, I was paying several hundred dollars to watch Billy Joel on a screen when I could have stayed home and watched YouTube. Yes, the whole experience did not seem to match the generational audience it attracted. We were old, cold, anxious about why the event was not starting on time, without the supply of necessities we usually carry in our purses, and up way past our bedtime.
However, by the third song of the set, I was having a blast. I was enjoying the jumbotron screens, which reflected not only the band, but interesting visual effects that enhanced the production. I was enjoying Billy Joel’s relaxed, unscripted banter with the crowd of 70,000. I was singing along and dancing to the beat. I was not worried about getting home “on time.” In fact, I did not even know what “on time” meant.
It was a great evening. It might have been rock for the aged and I might be one of the aged, but the night certainly ROCKED. And maybe I found out that, as aged as I am, I still have a rocker chick inside of me!
What do you do that makes you feel young and wild again? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a youthful day!