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By Angel Perkins
Friday night I got to attend a Styx, Blue Oyster Cult concert due to the kindness and generousity of my employer. Would I have purchased a ticket to this particular concert lineup on my own accord? Unlikely. Would it have been worth the $40-ish for a ticket? Most definitely.
I was born in (ouch) 1968 so the music performed was most popular in a time of my youth that I would've been more likely to spend my money on a Barbie doll or watermelon Bubblelicious than a record. The bands of my teens were more prone to big hair, spandex and eyeliner than the synthesizer-heavy Styx or the trippy-rants of BOC but I knew probably three songs of the latter and five songs of the former musicians' performances.
For my 14-year-old son, that as a teen I would've described as a "prep" (who is partial to Eminem and Cee Lo Green and who thinks Lady GaGa is "hot" rather than ridiculous) the 50-year-olds that he would normally familiarize with as doctors, teachers or lawyers that were in black concert tees or leather, bearing plastic cups of draft beer, periodically shouting "YEAH!" that made up the large majority of the audience were ... to say the least ... disconcerting. We both learned a lesson about a year ago. He showed me a guitar player on YouTube that overly-impressed him with his talent and finger dexterity. Because I have witnessed first-hand the gifts of Black Sabbath, Motley Crue, Poison, Guns N Roses, Ted Nugent, ZZ Topp, Kiss, Whitesnake, Ronnie James Dio, and approximately 15 other bands (of the concerts that I actually recall), I remained unimpressed.
So I "schooled" him. I searched and found Eddie Van Halen busting on Eruption and blew my son's MP3-rapping/XBox-loving little mind. Since then he has instilled a certain, let's say, personal RESPECT, for "classic" and "retro" music that makes him unappreciate Taylor Lisp and Justin Weiner. I learned that as I age, I AM becoming my mother and have come to the conclusion that teenagers, while still cute and intelligent, are pretty much oblivious and have no appreciation for anything of real value.
BUT, when musicians play SO WELL, and so PRECISELY (I hate shelling out for an artist only to find that their performance pales in comparison to what the radio/record/CD portrays) a moment of spirituality overcomes the listener (assuming they like that particular genre of music). A guitar, like a violin, can lift the spirits and make the audience literally feel the emotion of the chords ... especially when Tommy Shaw is touching them. Gargantuan speakers accentuate that nicely of course, especially when the drum beats inside you as if it has taken over for your heart's normal palpitations. The almost-geriatric artists of Friday night's show flipped their shampoo-commercial hair, gyrated the semi-inebriated mothers and grandmothers into a frenzy, and fingered guitar strings like hummingbirds on speed. And, when Lawrence Gowan's digits pressed those plastic keys, a MAGIC unimaginable spewed forth, that brought a young teenage boy to his feet ... pubescent vocal chords belting in an almost religious unison with the crowd, "I'm sail-eeeng a-waaaay..." and at the conclusion, followed by an explosion of lights and confetti, had the boy screaming "WOOOOO" with pinkie and index fingers splayed in universal rock-appreciation ... well, it made a mother proud.
It WAS truly moving in an unspoken bonding that broke beyond generations, socio-economic, social, color, and lifestyle boundaries and made me personally feel something my heart hadn't since I was 12. I stayed up past my bedtime. I got some loser's drink spilled on my shoe. I had to climb six flights of stairs in a claustrophobic stairwell of a horror-movie-dark and imposing parking garage. I had to eat greasy food in the car and had to stand up for the better part of four-and-a-half hours. But, the smile accompanied with the "thanks mom, that was cool," and the hug before bed that was followed by the chanting "Come sail away. Come sail away, come sail away with me-ee lad..." as he walked off through the house made it all well worth it and proved that rock n roll, REALLY GOOD rock n roll, IS ageless ... and perhaps it WILL never die. ...and it reminded me, Styx DOES rule!