Saturday before last, I flew to Detroit, then drove up to London, Ontario, and finally saw Saga. I last caught them live in 1984: they don’t tour much in North America, despite being from Ontario, because although they sell out arenas in Europe, they’ve never caught on here for some reason.
I was supposed to see them November 20, 2010, but of course that didn’t work out. Then I had a ticket for a show at B.B. King’s club in Manhattan last September, and the band cancelled (something about a visa problem for one of the band members). I have a watch on their tour page, and thus sometime in May learned that they had been added to the bill for Rock the Park 10, so I booked my trip.
It was a grey, rainy day, but that failed to dampen (!) my spirits, or those of the other concertgoers. With the doors opening at 3PM, I got in line about 2:30 and chatted with my line-mates—most of whom were my age or older. I’ve never seen that many guys with long, grey hair outside of Grateful Dead photos!
And it was a good show. Not as long as I would have liked—that’s the price you pay for having multiple bands on the bill—but Saga were as tight as I remember. After 35 years of playing together, they still seem to be enjoying themselves. And they must be able to read each other’s minds: during the opening track, the keyboardist was trying to adjust one of his (six!) keyboards. The display either wasn’t backlit or wasn’t bright enough, so he was trying to shade the display and adjust it with one hand, while still playing with the other. The lead vocalist noticed this (although it was behind him), and came over and shaded the display himself—all without missing a beat. Pretty impressive.
The impact of just hearing live music again took me by surprise. Katie of course lived for music, and loved concerts (I think she agreed with me that any music sounds good live, no matter the genre). I wound up about 25 feet from the stage, and when the otherwise-mediocre opening act started playing, I found myself missing her more intensely than I have in a very long time. She was my “concert buddy”: I took her (and friends) to her first concert, Green Day, in Pittsburgh. Later we saw Rush a couple of times, the Doobie Brothers once, David Wilcox at the Birchmere, and more. And she had desperately wanted to see Saga: I’d tried to make an expedition work once when they were playing in Ontario, but the logistics proved too difficult.
I left after Saga, to enjoy the other treat of the weekend: my sister had come down from Toronto just to visit her little brother! We had a nice dinner, then spent most of Sunday just talking and walking, what I call “found time”. With nothing in particular that we needed to or even really could do, we just relaxed and visited. I think those are often some of the best times. Then I dropped her at the train station to return east, and headed west on the 401, back to Detroit.
On the drive I was listening to the radio, and heard an ad on WCSX, a Detroit classic rock station, that starts with Boston playing in the background, and a question: “How do you teach your kids to like classic rock?”, with a baby gurgling happily. Then we hear a woman: “Honey, can you turn that up? The baby’s trying to sleep!” (I haven’t been able to find the ad on the Web, but I’ll keep looking.)
I could see Katie’s smile…