Cabernet Sauvignon, BMW’s, and Knee Replacements: Rock On!

Mike + The Mechanics, March 21, 2018
Ponte Vedra Concert Hall

With a few exceptions, the musical groups I enjoy now are the same as when I was younger. They’re like a few old, comfortable flannel shirts still hanging in the closet. I can’t imagine tossing them, and it’s not even like I wear them very often. I just want the comfort of knowing they’re still in there. These groups give me a similar sense of comfort. And, I suppose in some small measure, I’m being loyal to the artists too.

Okay, that and maybe there’s at least a tiny level of personal snark going on for me also. I look at some of those ripe, old fellas now and immediately realize that one of us is holding up better. I’m just too modest here to say who.

About a week ago we went to our first concert in a really long time. I enjoyed it! And perhaps because I now look at the world through a blogger’s eyes (everything is fodder), it was interesting to notice how concerts have changed from earlier years. Specifically the audience. But more on that in a moment.

I once mused here how when I was in my early twenties, going to concerts was the highest of all my priorities in life. Things like paying an electric bill or buying food took a back seat to announcements of tickets going on sale for a favorite artist. The fact that this period also coincided with countless evenings of doing laundry, watching basic cable on a black-and-white TV, and clinging to pathetic hopes that phone messages might be returned from young ladies is immaterial. I lived for that next concert.

After that period, life got in the way. Career, marriage, life insurance, mortgage, 401(k), etc., all took precedence. I still saw a show every few years, but attending one was no longer as important as it had been earlier.

On taking early retirement, though, one of my first thoughts was how great it would be to get into a concert groove again. There are so many artists I either missed the first time around or would love to see again, especially those in their twilight years. For instance, as recently as last year I missed an opportunity to see Stephen Stills and Judy Collins on their tour. I hope I can get a second chance on that one.

Stephen Stills and Judy Collins
Source: NPR

A friend of mine not only had the same desires as me prior to her own retirement, but she admirably put it all into action. As the months and weeks ticked towards her release date, Sue methodically plotted how she wanted to spend her first full year of freedom. Taking into account where friends and family live in her home state of California, along with studying tour schedules of her favorite musicians and comedians, she spent nearly all of last year attending concerts and visiting with dear ones up and down the Pacific coast.

Among the musical artists Sue recalls seeing last year were Joe Bonamassa, Eric Clapton, Stephen Stills w/Judy Collins, Foreigner, Tom Petty (twice), Ed Sheeran, Los Lobos, and Pokey Lafarge. She also saw comedians Jim Jeffries, Kevin Hart, Jo Koy, Christopher Titus, John Mulaney, Ron White (twice), Anthony Jesselnik, and Sebastion Manascalco (twice). As if that weren’t enough, she attended readings of two authors who are the inspiration of whatever absurd ambitions I personally have as a blogger: David Sedaris and Dave Barry. “Ticketmaster loves me,” she explained in an email.

I hate my friend Sue.

But as much as I’d love to replicate her excellent adventure, I still have too many obligations and projects, not to mention aspirations on other mental bucket lists, to commit to such a pursuit. Still, her undertaking was enviable and noble.

Recently though, Gorgeous and I did go see a performance of Mike + The Mechanics at the nearby Ponte Vedra Concert Hall. I was never really a big fan of this band. In fact I only own one of their albums. But as a die-in-the-wool Genesis fan, there is no way I could miss seeing guitarist Mike Rutherford perform if he’s appearing less than 30 minutes from my home. Genesis is apparently never going to reunite again, so an opportunity to see one of them is pretty is much like putting on a flannel shirt from the closet.

The Mechanics were Rutherford’s pop side project during the eighties and nineties. While I knew I wasn’t going to hear any strain of “Supper’s Ready” or “Home By The Sea,” I figured he might toss some post-prog, Genesis morsels just for me (two were played: “Land of Confusion” and “I Can’t Dance”). It was a good show, and fun to hear radio staples such as ‘Silent Running,’ ‘Living Years,’ and ‘All I Need Is A Miracle’ again. The audience swayed and sang together; some of us were even gauche enough to pull out a phone and use its camera in spite of that fact that we consider such concert behavior déclassé.

God, how I love the royal “we.” But I digress.

Concert experiences are different for me now, though. When prior to the show an announcement was made asking for the owner of a BMW to please come to the box office, I laughed and remarked to Gorgeous how I nearly always took public transportation to concerts when I was in my twenties.

While alcohol consumption was commonplace back then (official and unofficial), I can’t recall ever seeing an argument such as the one we witnessed between a husband and wife two rows ahead of us. It appears that when hubby brought back two glasses of Cabernet from the bar, he was soundly rebuked for not bringing her the Syrah she had specifically requested. I sided with her on that one — Cabernet while listening to Top 40 songs? Where does one even begin with such a travesty?

Source: Winefolly

But none of the above compares with the conversation we overheard between five people sitting near us. In my best Dave Barry, I swear I am not making this up. When we initially sat down in our seats and got settled, I struggled in a clumsy way to get my sweater to hang correctly over the back of my chair. Twice it fell, and twice I had to apologize to the woman behind me as I reached back to pick it up. She thankfully laughed along with her husband, and they proceeded to tell me that she was recovering from recent knee replacement surgery. I promised that I would make sure my sweater stayed far away from her knees. They laughed, we laughed, everyone laughed.

Gorgeous and I then proceeded to sit there eavesdropping, as this couple warned every single person who entered their row to walk carefully. Those knees, you know.

What made it hard to keep a straight face, however, was that another couple sitting nearby, and a woman directly next to me, suddenly begin talking to the first couple about… their personal experiences with knee replacements. Knee replacements! This went on for a full 20 minutes until finally the house lights dimmed and the musicians strolled out on stage. In the vernacular of an earlier period in my life, I was peaking too soon.

As the show started to end, we ran out a side exit during the encore. Back in the day this was my patented move to beat the crowd (looking back on it, I have to wonder what great encores I missed). We laughed the entire way home.

Let’s just hope karma will be kind to my own knees someday.

Until next time…

37 thoughts on “Cabernet Sauvignon, BMW’s, and Knee Replacements: Rock On!

  1. So funny! We saw the Rolling Stones about 15 years ago. First thing I noticed was the graying of the audience. Ok, maybe that was the second after I noticed the smell of something I hadn’t smelled in 30 years. Yep, those old coots were smoking weed! It was a fabulous concert and we bolted to avoid the parking lot trauma. Didn’t want to get caught up in walkers and canes. It was a very sobering fact that age hits everyone. I’m sure there was someone on oxygen somewhere in that crowd!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, my, you’re probably right. Rolling oxygen tanks! I give you guys credit for spending the dough to see the Stones — it must have set you back a few shekels. But definitely worth it– I’d give anything to see Mick and Keith live.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It wasn’t too bad — maybe $150 for two. It was before the prices seemed to triple. We opted not to see Paul McCartney and Elton John/Billy Joel because of the obscene cost. My husband is going to an ELO concert in Denver this summer. Tickets were sold out in minutes. You can only get on the secondary sales at higher costs. Just so wrong.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You know I love music, but I admit, my concert experiences are limited to about once a month, and classical.usually wins…but…nithing like a good rock concert!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gorgeous indulges me on these ventures. She too is more of a classical and ambient lover. This week I’m dragging her to Savannah to the jazz festival there to see Dr. Lonnie Smith for a matinee performance. I promised her some good coastal seafood at a fancy restaurant afterwards.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks Marty,

    A fun read. I have been to a few concerts (Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, George Thorogood) and was surprised that many young people knew all of the words!

    Talking about Ticketmaster…it does not love m :(!

    Just saw a program about Super Scalpers, on the Fifth Estate. It explains how difficult it is to get tickets for popular concerts.
    StubHub enables scalpers to make millions of ticket resale.


    1. I’m jealous of anyone who has seen the Stones, Elizabeth. But between their ticket prices and the evil that is Ticketmaster, I doubt I’ll ever be able to see them live.

      The program you mention about scalpers sounds interesting. This is part of the reason (in addition to cost) why I’m focusing on artists and bands who aren’t quite as popular as they once were. When demand is lower, the opportunity for seats and more reasonable prices appeal to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Funny! I’m not much of a concert goer, mostly because I’m too cheap. I would enjoy seeing some of the classic groups, though… except I wonder if hearing their limited singing range due to age would just depress me. When we go to the annual Rockabilly event in Las Vegas, there usually several… ummm… mature performers and, while it’s great to see them (we saw Wanda Jackson and Brenda Lee last year and Jerry Lee Lewis will be there this year), they sure ain’t what they used to be! Now, if I could see David Sedaris, I’d get tickets for sure!


  5. Marty, you make me laugh. Loved the clip of the concert. They sounded great. A good lot of the old rockers still sound great. Jagger, for one, sounds better than ever these days. Hard to believe, but true. Here’s the deal folks, if it’s a big name group you really want to see and it’s sold out, and if it’s not too far from your town, show up at the box office the night of the concert and there are almost always seats still available at the non-rape price. In fact, that’s just s.o.p for me these days even if I have a ticket. I can often score a better seat in the same price range. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the inspiration, Sue! And great advice too. The Indigo Girls were playing near us recently, but the concert was sold out. If I had known this, I might have tried your suggestion. And I agree about Jagger– he and the rest of that band really are amazing still.


  6. Fun read as always, Marty. Living in Reno, Nevada, I have seen a lot of old rockers play the local casinos. The problem is that they always cut their sets short, so the casino can get the patrons back on the gambling floor. Since they don’t have warmup bands and the shows usually only last about an hour and fifteen minutes, the gray ponytails and I are just getting into the groove by the time the single encore starts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, that’s so true about casino shows. It’s been years since I’ve been to one, and I forgot how compressed they are. The only saving grace is that I think the ticket prices are much lower in a casino because of all that. I think!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think the ticket prices are cheaper at the casino, and the other saving grace is that the old rockers don’t have to play past their bedtimes.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. So funny….with so many great take-aways! I love how your friend, Sue, so fully embraced her ‘bucket list’ early in her retirement. And “to a blogger, everything is fodder” — I am totally going to borrow that!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A few years ago we saw Simon & Garfunkel in a huge arena. As fate would have it a man a few rows behind us had a heart attack during the concert. The show stopped, the arena lights went up– and we all watched and waited as the EMTs took him away. If there was an upside to this for the guy, he did get a personal shout-out from both S & G wishing him the best. And then the concert continued.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Loved this one Marty. I love Mike & the Mechanics. One of the best music videos (in my humble opinion) is “Taken In” starring Richard Belzer. I watch it when I need a laugh. It just makes me smile. And I don’t think you and Gorgeous needed to leave early with all those bum knees.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It wasn’t until we were on the way home that I realized they hadn’t played “Taken In” (a later check of the setlist shows it wasn’t included in the encore). I liked that song also, but it’s funny because I don’t recall Richard Belzer in the video for it. I’ll have to look that one up to see it again. They were a fun band back in the eighties, and I’m glad Mike resurrected them again for an enjoyable evening. I think you’re right that there wouldn’t have been much of a rush to the exits. Perhaps I can re-think that strategy now that we’re older.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Belzer’s in it. Funny how some of these comedians are tight with rock stars. Just watched the Zen of Garry Shandling (excellent but long. Only watch it when it’s raining down there.) He was pretty tight with Tom Petty.


  10. Were you really able to manage early retirement? HOW did you do it? What a dream. Everything I’ve ever done in an office has been meaningless. I can’t wait to be rid of it.

    This summer my bride and I are going to some old fogey shows. The Doobie Bros/Steely Dan and then, absurdly, Paul Rogers/Jeff Beck/Ann Wilson. The audiences are decrepit.

    Last year I saw a Genesis tribute band. The Musical Box. They did all of Selling England by the Pound. It’s as close as I’ll ever get.

    Have you read Sedaris’s latest book of diary entries? It’s fantastic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was able to retire early because of one main reason: I never had kids. I’m sure if I had, and also continued to also get a divorce, I would still be working. I’m not sure that’s the most wonderful tradeoff in the world (I’m told having kids is wonderful), but it’s how I ended up living my life. No complaints, which obviously is good because I can’t change anything!

      I saw the Doobies/Steely Dan ads and realized that Donald Fagen is still calling the band by that name. I remember seeing something about litigation with the family of Walter Becker, which is a shame. As long as Fagen is singing those great songs, it sure as hell can be Steely Dan if he wants it to be. I’m sure that’ll be a great show. And yes, that is a strange combination with Rodgers/Beck/Wilson. But intriguingly so.

      I saw the Musical Box! They alternated shows with Selling England and the (first) Genesis Live album. I was hoping to see the Selling England one because that’s my favorite Gabriel-era album, but ended up seeing the other on instead. They were great, though. I’d like to see them again if they tour down this way. Actually there’s a NJ-based Genesis tribute band that’s pretty good. I forget their name at the moment.

      I saw the new Sedaris book but haven’t picked it up yet. Instead I bought the new biography by Sally Bedell Smith on Prince Charles. I should have my head examined.


  11. Forgot to mention: saw Judy Collins with the New Haven Symphony Orchestra at Yale several years ago. It still ranks as one of the best performances I’ve ever seen. Her voice is incredible live. It sends chills up and down your spine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I saw her back in the 80’s at Wolf Trap in Virginia. What struck me at the time was how she played piano the entire concert and not guitar once. But anyway, yes, that voice was golden. I never thought she got her due as a songwriter, though. “Since You’ve Asked” is such a beautiful song.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. OMG, of course! You were always such a great editor, Eddie. I’m going to keep the mistake in there so that your comment will keep the balance in the post, so to speak.

      We live in a second floor condo, and there are days when my knees question THAT decision as I lug heavy grocery bags. 🙂


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