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Concert Review: Hollsopple, PA- July 23, 1997

This was my first Al concert, and it couldn't have been more perfect. My mother and I arrived at the concert grounds at around 4:15 p.m. Al wasn't due out until 7:30, and security wouldn't let us in the gates until 6:30. The only people that were there before us were three teenaged guys who had been there since 3:30. Then we listened to the sound check (soon, a lot of people started piling in behind us- we had our lawn chairs right in front of the gate beside the guys' chairs. Those people weren't getting in ahead of us!); we weren't able to see much from behind the fence. However, I was able to see Steve Jay through a slit in the fence. During the sound check we suddenly heard an extremely Al-like voice. Amazingly, it was Al's voice. I immediately jumped up and pressed myself against the fence in hopes of catching a glimpse of "The Weird One". Like an idiot, I yelled really loudly when I saw him through the fence, "OH MY GOD, I SEE HIM!" You could say I was a little excited. After all, that was the first time I'd ever really seen him. Also during the sound check, the phrase, "Rubén Valtierra to the stage," was heard several times. I wonder what Rubén was up to- probably making some odd sculpture out of butter. He's weird like that.

A bit later, we all picked up our chairs and stood in front of the gate with much anticipation. The security guards kept making us step away from the gate, but the second their backs were turned, we all moved back up again. Finally, we were allowed to pass through the gates. We followed the guys, who parked their chairs up against the chain-link fence, front row, center. We did the same, naturally. We were front and a bit left from center- great seats! We had about an hour to wait once we got in there, so I took this opportunity to raid the merchandise table; I bought a BHD hat, a Bad Hair Band T-shirt, and two three-dollar pictures of Al. With that done, I returned to my seat to wait for the show to begin. After waiting an eternity, an opening band called Marmalade came onstage. I didn't pay much attention to them (although I do remember them playing "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-da"). I came for Al and the Bad Hair Band! When Marmalade finally left the stage, the opening strains of "Fun Zone" began- I cheered. Then, at long last, Al appeared on the stage singing "Since You've Been Gone". I was completely awestruck. I was, at most, ten feet away from him. I was so close, I could see right up his perfectly shaped nostrils; it was great!

There were several great moments during the show for me: When Al jumped off stage during "One More Minute" to mingle with the crowd, he stopped directly in front of me, leaned over the fence (had that fence not been there, he would have been in my lap), and sang the line "Aw, can't you see what I'm tryin' to say, darlin'" to me. His handsome face was mere inches from mine. Those beautiful curly brown locks of his were also mere inches away, dangling over my face. Had I not been so frozen from shock, I could have run my fingers through them. His beautiful sparkling brown eyes gazed right into mine. I was completely under the spell of "His Weirdness". It was pure ecstasy. Not bad for four seconds, huh? During "Smells Like Nirvana" some of the water Al used for the gargle solo hit me. There had to have been a trace of saliva in that water. The spit of a rock legend may have touched me. Wow. It was so cool. Then, during "Bedrock Anthem", I found that Al was definitely wearing briefs. The stage was as such an angle that I could easily see this by leaning forward and craning my neck ever so slightly.

The entire show thoroughly rocked. The "obligatory band solos" were hilarious. Before Steve Jay's bass solo, many people in the crowd began chanting "Yoda" over and over again (I joined in too). Al responded with, "Okay, I know what you wanna hear...BASS SOLO!!!" For his solo, Steve stepped up, plucked one string on his bass, and stepped back again. The crowd (including me) offered some cheers of encouragement, and Steve stepped back up. Again, he played only one note, but this time with the bass behind his head. It was cool. On another occasion (between songs), a bunch of people, including me again, began chanting Al's name. Of course, Al noticed and said, "What? What is it? What do you want? People, people, people. Come on now..."

It was great to hear some of Al's classic and new released material live. He also performed many unreleased songs- that was a real treat to hear. Among these songs were "I'll Repair For You" ("I'll Be There For You"), "Laundry Day" ("Come Out and Play"), "Chicken Pot Pie" ("Live and Let Die"), "Gee I'm a Nerd" ("Free As a Bird"), and "Green Eggs and Ham" ("Numb"). There was a change of lyrics during "Jurassic Park"- Al sang one verse in Japanese. There was also a lyric change in "Twineball"- (At least in the syntax) Al sang one line as "...miniature souvenir ball of twine" instead of "...souvenir miniature ball of twine". I guess you have to be a real fan to notice something like that.

When "Yoda" began, I was kind of sad since that song customarily ends Al's concerts, but soon another show would begin backstage. When Al left the stage, my mother, the guys, and I raced to the rear of the stage with our chairs and everything and lined up along the fence to wait for him. Within a few minutes, Lynette, Al's wardrobe manager and publicist- I wish I had her job!-, appeared and told us the way it was going to be..."no posing, one autograph, then step aside." As we were waiting, keyboardist Rubén Valtierra walked by. I said, "Look, guys, it's Rubén!" A couple people accompanied me in yelling, "Hey, Rubén!" He acknowledged our presence by waving at us. What a cool guy.

Soon, it would be my turn to have a moment with greatness. Al was wearing a gray Oddville MTV T-shirt and turquoise Vans with a swirly appearance. He looked great. When my turn came, I timidly handed him one of the photos I had purchased earlier. As Al was signing it, I somehow managed to quickly gather enough courage to blurt out in an extremely shaky voice the words I had yearned to say to him for so long, "I love you." Al replied with a goodhearted "Ohhhh" accompanied by a kind of a cute little laugh. He SHOOK MY HAND, handed back the photo, and said, "Nice to meet you." Once again, I shakily said, "I love you," and stepped aside to let the others have their turns to touch a living legend. It was a good day.