The Mountain Times

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Concerto number nine

I recently had the pleasure of seeing Kelly Clarkson and Maroon 5 in concert. Not an avid concert-goer, I always leave a music show asking myself why I don't do it more often. Watching a live performance is exhilarating. One is hard-pressed not to stand up, clap your hands, find the rhythm and sometimes shake, shake, shake a little booty.

Kelly Clarkson sang her heart out and Adam Levine definitely had the moves like Jagger. As much as I enjoyed them both, I wouldn't have actually bought tickets to this concert especially since the venue was an hour and a half drive and it was on a Wednesday night. I estimated we would get home around midnight and that's late for this Boomer body on a school night.
But my friend Molly was caller number nine into the radio station and the prize was two tickets to paradise, or more notably the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Charlotte, NC. We decided to make it a Thelma and Louise adventure. After all, we're not getting any younger and we need to start grabbing the fun opportunities while we can still enjoy them. However, we made a pact not to pick up any hitchhikers even if he did resemble Brad Pitt.

The Boomer Barometer for an outdoor concert is always Woodstock. Visions of rain-soaked blankets, mud-caked body parts and bathing in irrigation ditches danced in our heads. Nope, not for these two fifty-somethings who require indoor bathrooms and conventional seating for our boomer butts.

We loaded our canvas pop-up chairs into the trunk, the ones with the built-in drink holder. Imagine our surprise when, after hauling the chairs for a quarter mile from the parking lot to the entry gate, we were told only beach chairs were allowed. The venue graciously offered to store our chairs during the concert and would happily rent us the proper chair for a nominal fee.

We stepped over to the "complimentary chair storage" booth to see literally hundreds of pop-up chairs in a rainbow of colors piled to the ceiling. Hmm... I mentioned to the young lady who handed us our claim ticket that I did not see anything on the venue website about the approved chair type we needed to bring. I guess I reminded her of her mother, or maybe her nana. She told me to come to the back door where she greeted us with two rental chairs in hand. "Take these and just don't tell anyone," she said with a smile.

We surveyed the amphitheater and immediately noted the location of the bathrooms. Not the port-a-potties that were lined up close by, these Boomer gals wanted the real thing complete with toilet paper and a sink to wash our hands.

With less than 20 minutes to start time, we were surprised by the thinness of the crowd. Apparently it is not cool to show up for the opening act. So we decided it was a good time to grab something to eat after we set up our chairs on the lawn. Molly bought us each a beer to the tune of $26. Yes, you read that right - $13 for a can of beer. I'll admit, it was a big can - like the size of a Fosters, but seriously, $13? So I sprang for the food - two hot dogs and an order of stale nachos with the Cheese Wiz dipping sauce. It was typical concession stand food. Though the total was not $26, it wasn't far from it.

As we listened to the unknown country music band who actually cranked out some awesome honky tonk tunes, the seats and grassy area started to fill in around us. By the time Kelly started whipping out the lyrics advising me that what didn't kill me made me stronger, there was a packed house.

The 30-minute intermission in between Kelly and Adam was the perfect time to make our bathroom runs. The sun had gone down by this time, so finding our way back to our seats was a bit challenging. All the rented beach chairs looked exactly alike!

Times have changed since my early concert-going days. The most notable difference was watching thousands of fans raise their cell phones with some sort of candlelight app glowing. What happened to cigarette lighters and Free Bird?
Over the span of my adult life, I have seen my fair share of concerts, though I am by no means a concert fanatic. I have been lucky enough to see Billy Joel three times - once with Elton John - Cher, Rod Stewart and the Rolling Stones. My most memorable concert was Air Supply because an hour after it ended I went into labor with my first daughter. I still think of her whenever I hear All Out of Love or Here I Am.
I'm not sure how many concerts I have left in me. Tickets are too expensive, crowds are too overwhelming and the beer is too expensive. But I will always have my memories of my first concert and the thrill of hearing Barry Manilow singing Mandy. She came and she gave without taking. Where is he now anyway - At The Copa?
Cindy Phillips is a columnist for The Mountain Times. She can be reached directly at