Saturday, May 31, 2008


In preparation for traveling to Chicago the next morning, I fired up the truck stereo and dropped in an bootleg recording of the very earliest days of Van Halen, a combination of studio and live performances from the mid 1970's, a few years before they made it big. Raw sounding in their formative stages. It was a short gig because I needed to get to sleep early in anticipation of having to get up early and stay up late the next day.

Up at 5, on the plane by 7:30 and in Chicago by 11:30 AM. My sister joined me on this one. Took the train into Chicago and spent a couple hours roaming the Art Institute looking at their varied exhibits. I was really tired at that point, especially since my aching shoulder prevented my getting a good nights sleep. Walked down to Lake Michigan where we rested on the grass overlooking the yacht club, enjoying the suns warmth and watching the joggers run by (the women in this city all seem to be well endowed!). We then walked over to the nearby polished stainless steel objet d'art located in the city's millennium park, the 'Kapoor sculpture', the mirror-like surface reflected a drunken looking city skyline. Definitely a focal point for visitors in the area!

Took the train out to Rosemont after picking up a bottle of tequila at a downtown liquor shop. From that train station we took the bus to the motel where we ditched our stuff and went immediately to dinner. The people in the booth behind us were having the Dave vs. Sammy debate. We prepared by filling the flask with .5 liter of tequila, downing the rest of the 750 ml bottle in the motel room. The motel shuttle brought us to Allstate Arena early so that we could enjoy the last rays of the sun and watch the people pouring in. A cigar in hand, watching limos pass before us and low flying airplanes landing at nearby O'Hare Airport roar above us. Days of expectation were over, it was right here, right now!

Time to head inside and join the party! Police were crawling all over the place. Walk through the door, they scan the ticket and the security guard wearing blue gloves asks for me to come over for a pat down. Shit! With a half liter of tequila stashed in my pants I thought that was it for me! As he pats me down I fidget so that he doesn't go for that one sweet spot that would give it all away. He missed! Hallelujah, I'm in! Grabbed a soda, loaded it up with the juice and onto the show! Ryan Shaw was in progress when we found our seats on the deck just above the floor, Eddies side. These were the best seats I had during the 07/08 tour in that we were close to the stage and looked out over the sea of heads in between. We watched the crowd stream in, the drunks having difficulty negotiating the stairs.

Intermission ends, the lights go out, the roadies whip off the curtains and Van Halen rips into "You Really Got Me", sending the crowd to its feet where they stayed for the remaining two hours! This is what its all about, proving once again why the time, money and effort is worth it!

It was really loud! The crowd was crazy the whole concert and Dave was lovin' it all night long, that goofy grin on his face proving it. Eddie was enjoying it too. You can see the pride and and joy he had for his son Wolfie in how the two of them interacted.

I was getting worried that the tequila was having little effect on me this evening after having drank nearly half of it early in the show. Yeah, my sister was sipping some of it too. But then it kicked in and I was flying for the rest of the concert! I don't know if was the juice or what, but it got so damn loud that I could not make out what was being said if spoken to. I was lovin' it!

I danced and sang to everyone of their songs. The only time I stood still was to snap off the occasional picture with the camera. Even that was hard to do considering the many that came out blurry. Camera men were patrolling the aisles video taping the wild and crazy fans in the audience! I'm hoping they come out with an official DVD of one of their shows following this tour.

The two hours evaporate and they're playing their encore, "Jump"! I savour the moment knowing its over. The lights come back on and the crowd begins to make its way to the exits. I was happy because with the juice gone, I was still conscious and aware of what was happening. Not so for my sister who made the mistake of following someone who she was talking to and left the arena without me. Security was tight and prevented me from getting onto the floor to grab a handful of confetti from off the stage. I find sis at the designated meet point, bummed at having left her jacket inside, which I promptly retrieved. Upon exiting the arena, I complemented the foxy Chicago police women on how good they looked in uniform. We watched the limos roll by, picking up their groups of concert goers. I had fun messing with peoples minds, eliciting a variety of responses. Why did that one guy object to my drawing the VH logo in the dust on the polished hood of his vehicle? The limo riders were asked to replenish my flask from their private bar. When turned down I told them to enjoy their ride home, which was nothing more than an $80 taxi ride.

In the end my sister and I were the only ones waiting for a ride, the promised motel shuttle never arriving. So we walked the mile back to our room, the cool night air reviving us and the exercise helping burn off the alcohol. Into the room, guzzle some OJ and then drop in bed.

Sis was not feeling well and so I had breakfast alone. By 11 AM we were retracing our footsteps back to Denver, landing in the mile high city around 5 PM. Back to the pickup and in the door of the house just in time for dinner. It was all over, with no opportunity to do it again considering the 2007/2008 tour would come to an end in Grand rapids MI this coming Monday. Van Halen as a band would then go silent.

Concert arena
Landing planes roar outside
Spirits soar inside

Police frisk him down
Tequila goes unnoticed
Gets him all fired up!

Thunderous applause
Speakers volume turned up high
Ringing in his head

Play their formula
The bands chemistry ignites
Crowds loud reaction

Deafening applause
Big screen shows sweat glistening
Smiles on their faces

Light beam swept darkness
All converge on center stage
Eddie is divine

A spotlit halo
He's got the miracle fingers
Takes our hearts and souls

The grand finale
Band makes the audience "JUMP!"
And then they are gone

Feelin like Jamie
Departure leaves us cryin
Ends the one night stand

Sleep deprived nights
Tequila fueled rock concert
Leaves him exhausted

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