Thanks to the friend who first breathed the words, "Def Leppard" in my presence.
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"I met Def Leppard last night. They were all dressed in leather and fatiques, with piercings everywhere. They looked great!"
A guy in the grocery store.
There had been next to no promotion. I had seen two ads on TV and a poster in the mall downtown, yet it seemed as though the whole city was buzzing. They were in town, and of course they were staying at the Sheraton, since it's the only really nice hotel with good security. I left work early on Thursday, February 10, 2000 so that I could buy groceries for my family. For a variety of reasons, I had made up my mind that I wasn't going to go see the show, even though I had been a fan of Joan Jett for many years, and of Def Leppard for four.
From the time I left the office, it seemed that all I heard about was the concert. The guy behind me had met the band and was going to be going backstage. The clerk who waited on us was a fan but couldn't get a babysitter. On and on.
It was the guy in the store who finally made my mind up for me. When I got my groceries loaded into the car, I felt so disappointed. I had heard the sound-check and I had seen the buses that afternoon when I was scouting for parking for the course I was going to take soon. I decided to go nuts, at least compared to my usual behaviour.
I dashed to my office to drop off my briefcase and tell my boss that I would be in over night, then I went to give my spouse the car, the groceries, and in effect, the children. I asked to be dropped off near the ticket agent downtown and then I was on my own until at least the next morning.
Gus had a problem with charging tickets, so I had to make a little side trip to the banking maching for some cash but then I had a ticket for section 6, row L, seat 14. I went off to boast to my friend who works in the mall. She was far too pregnant to go, but she did tell me that the band had apparently gone to the bank in the mall and then walked through looking around but she hadn't seen them.
I picked up a bus schedule, a new pair of undies, and some correct change and then I was off to the campus on the 6:15. I had a nostalgic walk through the Student Union Building and then marched up to the Aitken Centre. When I arrived, there were about 40 or 50 people hanging out in the lobby. I looked at the T-shirts, but decided that I might need the rest of my money that night so I had better not. I settled in with my back against a poster of some hockey player to read the fine print on the back of my ticket and watch the gathering crowd.
Most of the crowd were male. I think I was the only woman there who had come alone, the rest were in groups or seem to have been brought along reluctantly by their dates. I heard a lot of people saying things like, "...fan since high school." and most people seemed to be hoping to hear, "The old, good stuff." There were a few people there that I knew from high school, and I noticed that the manager of the record store where I buy my CDs was escorted into the office. I found out later that, as I had assumed, she and her date had been picking up backstage passes.
I overheard someone from the building staff telling the two or three police officers covering the event that there were about 1700 tickets sold, two snack counters, two bars, and a two drink at a time limit. The staff all seemed to be really relaxed, even bored. Realizing that my first concert was their, "same old, same old" did tend to put things into perspective for me.
Finally, when the lobby was packed and there were people standing outside, they opened the curtains and let us in to the arena. As I was going around to my section, I noticed the infamous Malvin Mortimer hurrying in the other direction, with a scowl on his face. My first thought was that something must be refusing to go as planned, and my second was that he REALLY is short.
When I got to my seat, up under the rafters with a great view of the whole arena, I just sat there and tried to breathe. The woman next to me summed up how I felt when she wondered aloud, "Is it cold in here or am I just really excited?" In chatting with her and her date, I discovered that I wasn't the only one attending a first concert. She warned me that if the music didn't deafen me, that she might.
As I waited for Joan Jett and the Black Hearts to come on, I found myself staring at the goofy happy face grin someone had put on the cover of the drum set. It was made out of white tape on the black cover, and pretty much looked the way I felt.
Once the Joan Jett hit the stage, I actually started to relax. She played a lot of songs that I knew and I resolved to go out soon and buy a couple of CDs. She is as energetic and as powerful a performer as I expected, though I did have a hard time picturing my friend who used to dress like her wearing the black rubber pants and rubber halter top, with the shaved head. Somehow, it works for Joan. I also have to say that Freddy Beach clearly loves the Black Hearts, we weren't just being polite.
While the stage was set up for Def Leppard, I stayed in my seat and watched. I know it's sappy, but I didn't want to miss a thing. A lot more people came in until the stands and the floor were more than half full. It doesn't sound like a lot, but this is the worst possible time of year, in terms of weather, to have a show here plus it was a weeknight.
It seemed like it took forever, but finally the real show began.
It was exactly like what people have described their shows to me. I can't really remember clear details, and certainly nothing that a few dozen other people haven't described better. It was loud, it was physically overpowering, and best of all, it was an interaction between the audience and the band. Both Joe and Sav really do seem to make eye contact with the entire audience various times during the show. Mostly, I was amazed at how much they seemed to get out of the performanc. It was as though we were really the ones putting on a show for them. It didn't take long before I was up out of my seat dancing and waving and singing alone, and that is NOT the sort of person that I normally am. I felt like reacting was part of being a good host.
When the two hour show was over, a bit after eleven, I followed the crowd out into the pleasant evening. I was in too good of a mood to compete for a taxi, so I walked the two or three miles downtown to my office. Once I got settled inside, with the alarm set and the door locked, I turned on the computer and went to work, just as though it was 8 am instead of midnight. I was tired and hungry and broke, but it had certainly been worth it.
February 14, 2000