59 Candles, 59 Things – part thirty nine

Forty seventh thing: The next entry in this series of things that make me happy is new experiences.  Since retiring, I have had a number of new experiences that have enriched my life, making my new “normal” exciting.

Some experiences, such as taking guitar lessons (a life-long dream) turned out differently than I’d imagined.  It was hard – awkward, painful and clearly not for me.  Others, blogging, yoga, meditation, writing, culinary knife skills – I truly enjoy.

This past weekend, I attended my first opera, “Orpheus and Eurydice”produced by the Opera Grand Rapids. Loving music, theater and dance, I was intrigued and was sure it would be great.  In truth, it was more than I could have imagined, it was magical.

Photos courtesy of Opera Grand Rapids Facebook page

Due to my unfamiliarity with this story I sought out a synopsis via Wikipedia, finding that it is comes from mythology, a subject I’d loved in high school.  The story is compelling, a love so great that after his wife Eurydice dies tragically, Orpheus travels into Hell to bring her back.

The staging was set in modern day, simple yet dramatic and very effective. There were three leads, dancers and a chorus, a small cast I learned (compared to grand operas).  The orchestra (while not visible from the pit) was amazing as was the haunting music.  There was a screen along the top of the stage which supplied translation of the lyrics making the story easier to follow.

“Orpheus and Eurydice” was fascinating and performed beautifully – the singing and acting conveying a deeply moving love story.

I’m so grateful to my dear friend for sharing her love of opera with me.  It was the highlight of an absolutely stellar girl’s weekend and a new experience that I’ll never forget.

Photos courtesy of Opera Grand Rapids Facebook page

For more on this series, “59 Candles, 59 Things” just click on 59 Things under categories.

59 Candles, 59 Things – part thirty two

Fortieth thing –  For the next thing that makes me happy in this series, there is only one thing I could choose given the events of this weekend.

I finally got to see The Who!!!!!  This is a bucket list item for me, now completed.

There were times that I wasn’t sure it would happen. Keith Moon, their wildly talented drummer, passed away in 1978 followed by the passing of John Entwistle, their bassist, in 2002.  Sadly, I wondered if I would get to see Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend perform. After buying our tickets last year for an October concert date I received a text alert cancelling the concert indefinitely. Roger Daltrey was taken ill with meningitis.  This was scary news indeed and I opted to hold my tickets while praying for his recovery.

Prayers answered, Roger recovered fully and I received another alert that the concert was back on for February 27th. Happy days indeed.

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Main Floor, 29th Row, Center, seats 1 & 2 – sweet!!

A little backstory….I fell in love with this band back in 1969 with the release of “Tommy”,  listening endlessly, memorizing every lyric and nuance. Genius!  When “Who’s Next” came out in 1971, I was at the record store with cash in hand.  My first love bought me “Quadrophenia” in 1973 which I thought was pure brilliance.  The die was cast, I loved these guys and my love never wavered. I dreamed of seeing them in concert, never imagining I’d be 59 before it happened.

On Saturday, 2/27/16, we boarded the Detroit People Mover and headed for the Joe Louis Arena.

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It was a windy 46 degrees as we waited to enter, I noticed that the majority of the attendees were somewhere between Spence and my ages, not surprising.

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Right about now, I’m beside myself….

As with all good things, we still had a wait on our hands….the opening band had to perform and then the stage reset for The Who.  At almost 9:00, the house lights dimmed…

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The opening number had the massive crowd on it’s feet. And unlike any other concert I’ve been to – NO ONE EVER SAT DOWN FOR THE NEARLY TWO HOUR SHOW! Seated on the aisle, I moved into the aisle, singing and dancing my 59 year old ass off – as was everyone (except Spence, who enjoyed it but tends to not sing along, nor dance at concerts).

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There are no words. To say this was epic understates the joy I was experiencing.  I felt like I was 16 again.

Losing my mind a bit……

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Behind Blue Eyes

In my 59 Candles, 59 Things series, this is probably the largest post (at least so far) but it was hard to edit myself.  Suffice it to say, attending this concert with Spence at my side made me incredibly happy!

Rock on……




Adam Lambert & Queen – What a concert!

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The loss of the great Freddie Mercury as the front man of super group Queen left a vacancy too great to fill.  His voice, remarkable and unmistakeable.  His energy and showmanship – one of a kind.  Such a loss to the music world.

Years later, American Idol contestant Adam Lambert takes the stage with an epic voice, performing at a level not seen before or since on Idol (in my opinion).  He had millions of viewers spellbound.  How he didn’t win, I’ll never understand but was there any doubt he’d be successful? A star was born.  And he performed with Queen on the show – there was something so perfect about it.

When my sister called me early this year to let me know that Adam Lambert and Queen would be performing near us, it took about a second for me to reply “I’m in”.   This had to be good.

And it wasn’t just good, it was LEGENDARY.  Crafted with songs we love, performed with panache, camp and those guitar riffs that can only be Queen.  And within this rock and roll concert, moments of poignancy and tenderness as Adam and the band paid tribute to Freddie Mercury.  With the beauty of technology, Freddie performed again with Queen and in duet with Adam.  It was special and magical.

And though he left us too soon, I have to believe that somewhere, Freddie is smiling. I know I was.


Flash Back – Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, then and now

Ian Anderson then

When I was 12 or 13, I discovered Jethro Tull’s album Stand Up. I played it endlessly on a portable record player in our treehouse.  Good times.

Fast forward, now 16, working in a donut shop, in the throes of first love and getting to attend my first rock concert, Jethro Tull.  The band had just released “Aqualung”.  I’d upgraded to a stereo (with my meager earnings slinging donuts) and nearly wore out that album.

That concert was mesmerizing – Ian Anderson playing the flute in between lyrics that were poetic –  juxtaposed with war, religion, infidelity, prostitution and an odd homeless man (the aforementioned Aqualung).  All this while standing on one leg, then high kicking said leg – while still playing the flute.  It was blazed into my memory as clearly as my first kiss – yes, pretty potent performance value.

The opportunity to see Ian Anderson perform the Best of Jethro Tull in Buffalo, Spence’s hometown, was irresistible and somehow destined. But here’s a little twist (like when the universe gives me added knowledge).  We’re staying in a HomeAway property in Sedona a few weeks ago.  A lovely home with buddhas, goddesses, fountains, yoga mats and breathtaking views (you get the idea – very zen) there were also baskets of magazines lying about.  Just one thing – all were Rolling Stone magazines. And back issues at that.  In rifling through them, I found an October 2013 issue featuring “The Walking Dead” with actor Andrew Lincoln on the cover. Now you might be thinking here, “what does this have to do with Jethro Tull?“.  Well guess what – Andrew Lincoln (who plays the lead character, Sheriff Rick Grimes in the Walking Dead) revealed in the interview that he’s married to Ian’s daughter!  Ha! Bet you didn’t see that coming. The flute-playing-on-one-leg rock and roll icon is the father-in-law of the most prolific zombie-killing survivalist in history.  “Would Ian make mention of this at the concert?” I mused.  I mean he’s gotta feel pretty proud of his son in law’s success right?  Time would tell……

Armed with this factoid and certain that 98% of those in attendance were not, I waited.  After the first song, Ian cleverly addressed the crowd with “this next song is enough to raise the Walking Dead“.   My head spun to look at Spence – ha!  Then later a song with background images that included Hitler, George Bush, Churchill and others, was a collage of photos that included that cover of Rolling Stone – right smack in the middle – and then some lyrics and images making reference to zombies.  He never made another reference.  But Ian knows.  And Spence and I know. Wink.

Back to the concert. Ian still performs on one leg (a lot), kicks (though not quite as high as before – but hey, he’s 67) and sang those same songs that blew my socks off at 16.  I was a bit freaked out that they ended without playing “Locomotive Breath” (the lyrics made such an impression that I’d composed a writing assignment for a college class in my 30’s built around that song). This music will always be part of my life’s soundtrack.

I shouldn’t have worried.  That was their encore song.  As we left I realized my face hurt from smiling.  I flashed back to my 16 year old self realizing that’s the same thing I felt leaving that first concert.

Ian Anderson now
Ian Anderson now

If you don't believe me, this is where I got my facts for this post.
If you don’t believe me, this is where I got my facts for this post.