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I don’t have one of my own photos for this post tonight, because for once, unbelievably, I did not take a camera to a special place. The special place was Peter Gabriel and Sting’s Rock Paper Scissors Tour in Denver last night.

I will insert a gratuitous picture of Sting here:

sting
(Image credit: www.blissfullydomestic.com)

Because I like the way he looks. He reminds me of MKL, if MKL became slightly gaunt, fluffed his hair, and squinted. (I love the way MKL looks.)

I’ve never been much of a concertgoer, even though I like music. The crowds, the expense..it just hasn’t happened. I took Kelsea to her first two concerts until I was comfortable with her going with just her friends, and I have to say that the Foo Fighters put on an amazing show. I’m also glad I no longer accompany her to concerts because I’d probably have a heart attack from her crowdsufing at Riotfest.

Enter Stepson D, who for the past two years, has treated MKL and me to concerts in Denver by musicians who his Dad listened to a lot while he was growing up. Last year, it as Boston and the Doobie Brothers. This year, Peter Gabriel and Sting. D says this is a tradition we can probably keep up for some years to come. Now, I’m not much of a Peter Gabriel fan, but MKL is. His music has gotten my husband through some rough times in his life. He’s not much of a Sting fan, but I am. His music has shaped some wonderful memories for me.

Last night’s show was in the Pepsi Center, a venue used for basketball, hockey, and (in my experience) job fairs and concerts. It was a full house, and the artists set the stage immediately by saying, “We’re going to have fun.” And fun we all had. At 66 and 60 respectively, Peter Gabriel and Sting both have the voices that I remember from 30 years ago, still rich, expressive, melodic, and untouched by technological enhancements. Sting’s guitar was battered and well-loved; if one of the ten wealthiest musicians in Britain is playing something that looks like it came from a pawn shop in Aurora, you know it must be special and dear to his heart. He played “An Englishman in New York”, which is one of my favorites, and quite a few numbers from his days with The Police. The only thing missing for me was “When We Dance”, but I may be in the minority on that one, and I get that. Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” brought me to tear.

Even though Peter Gabriel without hair constantly reminded me of Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movies, and their lovely blonde back-up singer looked remarkably like Claire Underwood from Netflix’s House of Cards, which confused me at each first glance on the big screen, these two artists have assembled an amazing set of musicians to join them on their journey.

All the way through the closing encore “Sledgehammer”, they shared their music, each chiming in with vocals, instrumentals, or dance steps to the others’ songs. Brothers from other mothers. They touched on recent American tragedies and British political madness, all the while emphasizing, through the songs they selected, that we are a powerful people and love en masse is a powerful instrument of change and peace in the world.

As an empath in large crowds, I get A LOT of feels. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons I tend to avoid concerts, fairs, and other events where a crush of humanity will be present. But last night, all I picked up was gorgeous positivity. It felt like we were in a giant living room, all 18,000 of us, just hanging out listening to our friends play music, and chiming in when we could. There was singing. There was dancing. We were a crowd of a certain age, mostly, with women in flowy outfits and gentleman in standard classy aloha shirt attire. The lighting artists – for they truly were artists – made it feel at times as if the late afternoon sun was streaming in, warm beams flooding the crowd from unseen windows. One of the last songs made me feel as if I was sitting in the center of a rainbow, that magical spot always sought but never attained.

I loved watching MKL, as he watched with genuine joy in his eyes. He is the most genuine man I have ever known, and I need that in my life – such a stark contrast to my past partners. His joy enhanced mine expontentially.

So thank you Stepson D, for this wonderful experience. Thank you, Peter Gabriel and Sting, for giving us a night to remember. A special thank you to Sting, for continuing to look as amazing as you did 20 years ago. Thank you to my fellow concertgoers for your delight, enthusiasm, and camaraderie. Thank you to the spirits, non-corporeal ticketholders that I could feel up the high seats. And thank you to the universe for channeling magic in the form of music through very special people.

Quote of the Day: “If I ever lose my faith in you, there’ll be nothing left for me to do.” — Sting

Daily gratitudes:
MKL
A surprise Kelsea tonight
Belated and beautiful birthday presents
The man talking to his dog as they walked down Public Road
Cheese Danish from the coffee shop at the Littleton Downtown RTD station

(I’m trying to somehow spread the word on my blog, so I’m hastagging things. Bear with me. I have no real idea what I’m doing.)

#rockpaperscissorstour  #petergabriel #sting

 

 

Mezzo

The notes trickle down the hollow between her breasts,
Cascading as a river of mist across the boards,
Spilling over the footlights,
Curling into the tones ascending from the orchestra,
Swelling above the pit, over the brass rail,
Rolling in waves across shrouded, enraptured faces,
Slipping upwards to the arcs of the ceiling,
Licking the air,
Consuming breath,
Mingling
Rising
Imploding
Falling
Fading
Echoing
Stilling.

As the end of my birthday week celebration (or at least the first week of my birthday month celebration), MKL and I went to see La Boheme at the Central City Opera on Friday night.

It was magical.  Our last opera was The Marriage of Figaro by Opera Colorado in February.  If you’ve never seen an opera, I don’t recommend Marriage of Figaro as your first one.  I love opera, but haven’t seen one in about 17 years, and “Figaro” was four hours long and tough to follow, which made me wonder why I loved opera in the past.  But La Boheme made me remember.

We drove Tristan, MKL’s BMW show car, up to Central City just in time for an appetizer and a glass of champagne at the Teller House as the sun dropped below the mountains.   The Teller House fortunately still has an air of age and elegance to it.

Though the Face in the Barroom Floor has faded, as has much of the grandness of this former mining boom town since gambling was introduced back in the early 1990s.

The Face in the Barroom Floor – image from centralcityoperafestival.blogspot.com

We still had a little time to peek inside some buildings that have not been tainted by slot machines and blackjack tables, including the Williams Stables, which is also the purvey of the Central City Opera, and which holds small pre-performance excerpts of whatever is playing.

And the dagger in that picture?  REALLY sharp and totally unattended.

You are notified that it is almost time to head in for the performance by the staff marching up the street singing, by the ringing of handheld bells, and by  ten-minute, five-minute announcements, a friendly and gentle reminder to get your buns in gear.

Image from centralcityoperafestival.blogspot.com

It takes no time to get to your seat, and the interior of the Opera House is intimate, old, and beautiful.

As photos weren’t allowed during the performance, I borrowed this one from the Central City Opera website.

The Central City players performing La Boheme

This version of La Boheme was staged in Paris in the 1930s, and sung in Italian. The subtitles on the foot of the stage were very helpful, even though I knew the storyline, and I played with my own memory of two years of college Italian to see if I could catch any words or phrases. I must say, the subtitles were pretty loose with their translation, but it was still easy to follow.  The orchestra was seated beneath the stage, and I could just see the tops of their heads from our seats in the fourth row.

At intermission, we retreated to the darkened, romantic, terraced garden for a glass of wine.

Central City Opera House Courtyard image courtesy of http://www.waymarking.com

Every performer had a simply heavenly voice, and we both cried at the end (spoiler alert) when Mimi died.

It was a lovely evening, though it was late as we started home, and we had just reached the turn-off to I-70, when Tristan decided to play out his own death scene. Yep, he died.  And no amount of MKL’s roll-up-your-sleeves sensor/relay switching and eventual tire iron thumping made him start. My view was approximately this:

We wound up our evening with a long ride in a cushy (really!) tow truck, learning about life story of Ryan, owner of Father and Son Towing and longtime acquaintance of MKL.  It was a little surreal, but totally charming.

A marvelous birthday present…

Last weekend, I took Kelsea and Uber-Cool Will to a rock concert.

Yes, I really did.

Uber-Cool Will’s parents had taken them to the Moody Blues at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in the beginning of the summer, but I’m not sure you can call that a rock concert.  I was surprised that the Moody Blues were still alive, much less still playing.  They had a good time, but it wasn’t exactly rocking, and they were more impressed with how much secondhand funny smoke they thought they were inhaling.

In other words, this was Kelsea’s first rock concert. She didn’t really want me to go, because who wants to go to your first rock concert with your Mom?  But there was no way I was letting two 14-year old loose in Denver’s Pepsi Center all by themselves.  And so it was take me, or don’t go at all – her choice.  She chose to take me.

I have never been a huge fan of concerts. The combination of extreme noise, too many people, expensive tickets, and bands that are often disappointing when they haven’t been mixed and spliced and torqued within an inch of their life have never added up to a fabulous experience for me.  I could probably count the number of rock concerts I’ve been to on one hand. And having come off of a blissed-out weekend of otherworldliness at Cottonwood Hot Springs, I was even less in the mood.

But Kelsea was super excited and couldn’t wait, so there was no way I was letting my lackluster enthusiasm color her world.  I dressed in my cool clothes, and the three of us were off.  Our goal?

The Foo Fighters.

I turned Kelsea onto the Foo Fighters during the Excellent Adventure Roadtrip.  It took her  a while to warm up to them, but now she loves them, especially because she adores the late Kurt Cobain, and Dave Grohl used to be Nirvana’s drummer, so being in the same space with Dave was as close as she could come to being in a room with Kurt. I just liked a few of their songs.

We were totally in the nosebleed seats, but it was all I could afford. While the Pepsi Center claimed to be sold out, there were definitely some empty seats when things were getting started. Perhaps that’s because we started promptly at 7:00 pm with an unanounced warm-up band: Mariachi el Bronx.

We found a mariachi band, in full sombrero regalia, to be an odd choice for an opening act for a quintessential rock concert.  But a bit of research shows that Mariachi el Bronx, hailing from Los Angeles, is actually a punk band disguised as a mariachi band. Sometimes they play punk (as “The Bronx”) and sometimes they mix mariachi and punk – they consider both to be part of the soundtrack of Southern California.  We got pure foot-dancing mariachi and some bafflement, but I truly enjoyed them.

The second warm-up act (do they usually have two? I have no idea) was Cage the Elephant. If you too are unfamiliar with this band, their style is considered “slacker funk-punk”.

Who knew? All I can say is, there was an enormous amount of screaming and hair shaking, combined with some flailing.  Honestly, it was the first experience in a long time that I could say truly made me feel old. Totally not my thing. I found myself dreading the rest of the evening, wondering how I was going to be able to sit through another two hours of noise, and trying to find my zen.

Kelsea and Uber-Cool Will had, in the meantime, moved to the empty row ahead of me, so as not to be completely associated with an adult, and to feel more like they were on their own. Fine by me. I could still poke either one of them whenever I felt like it.

And then the Foo Fighters took the stage.  As I said, I liked a couple of their songs, but Cage the Elephant had really dampened my enthusiasm.  I am happy to say though, that it didn’t take long for my attitude to turn around.  They put on a phenomenal show. Dave has a gorgeous voice, the drummer, Taylor Hawkins, is one of the best I’ve ever heard, and they were fully as powerful and amazing live as in the studio.

They played for 2 hours and 40 minutes, incorporating only a small break for introductions, and a small break (complete with backstage cam and bottles of champagne) prior to their encores, which included several solo acoustic numbers by Dave.  And by the way, Dave is handsome as the devil and I am totally in love with him in an iconic sort of way.

So I had a blast, and wished I had paid for floor tickets, and am ready to abandon my life and follow the Foo Fighters.  And Kelsea is ready to come with me.

She rocked it. She stood up during Cage the Elephant and started dancing, and never sat down. Not once in 3 and a 1/2 hours.  I am proud to see that I have taught her how to scream “wooooooo” from our many years at rodeos, and she wooooed with the finest.  In fact, her voice was practically gone by the time we left.  (Mine was gone the next day.)

She admired the instruments. She thought the musicians were hot. She sang along with more of the songs than I ever thought she knew.  She smiled. She glowed. She was in her element. The Foo Fighters are justifiably proud of their identity as a true rock band, and Kelsea is justifiably proud of her own identity as a rock connoisseur.  A true rocker.

It was some of the best money I’ve ever spent. I’m so glad I got to witness this joyful side of her, and that I could treat her to this experience.  And I had a pretty darn good time too.

I never learned to read music.  I’ve tried several times to learn, but I might as well be trying to learn ancient Greek on my own. 

I have no idea what all those little symbols mean and to which sound each corresponds.  My Mom tried to teach me not too long before she died, without success.  I’ve bought books and little musical tooters to try to help.  Nope. 

It can’t be THAT hard.  Oodles of people who are not as bright as I am know how to do it.  Even Kelsea. (That didn’t come out quite right, did it?  Honestly, she’s waaayyy smarter than me.)

Pat never cared for music, so we rarely listened to it.  Once I left, I started listening to more music, as did Kelsea.  I love it.  Love it in the car and in the house.  But last night, I was thinking that I’d like to play music.  I made vague efforts at playing my Mother’s guitar as a child/teenager.  FAIL.  I had (and still have) a balalaika that my Dad got for me when I moved out here.  Another FAIL.  So apparently, instruments of that ilk aren’t for me. 

I’ve always wanted to play the saxophone but my small opportunity to do so resulted in yet one more FAIL.  An ex-boyfriend played one, and I always liked his music, but could never seem to get my lips or lungs to do the right thing on the sax.  Violins?  Nah.  Cello?  Kelsea tried it for a year and it held no appeal for me.

So what should I try?  A harp?  That might be fun. 

But I’m actually leaning toward a piano.  My Mother always wanted a piano and when we were children, she had her own special bank account into which she put her saved ‘pin money’ so she could buy one someday.  After my Dad died and she moved to her apartment, she finally got one.  I don’t know that she played it much, but she didn’t care.  It was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.  E-Bro has it now in his living room – I like that.

But I could see having a piano in the new house.  (I’m being completely assumptive about the new house, as I still have no word.)  I can see where it would go.  That would be cool.  I could have some little old lady come and teach me how to play in my free time (which will be limited if I’m working and commuting).  And then in six months, I’ll be able to sit and self-soothe by playing piano in the wee small hours; I will sound like Arthur Rubenstein (as long as I don’t look like him, we’ll be fine.)

I don’t know if it’s possible. Perhaps I simply don’t have the musical gene.  But it is a nice fantasy.

June 2020
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