Friday, September 26, 2008

My Kind of Fun, Times Two
(ramblings about my favorite band and my favorite team)

First, a few weeks ago Rebekah and I went to see Journey in concert at an outdoor venue just north of Indianapolis. I last saw the band in 1986. I'm a huge fan of their music, the stuff from the mid-70's before they were famous, the stuff in the late 70's and early 80's that made them hugely famous, the stuff that was on those same albums that nobody but serious Journey fans listened to that made them a truly great and very much under-appreciated band, the stuff from their reunion album in 1996 and the stuff from the new era in the 2000's, and most definitely their brand new CD.

They were extremely tight. They surpised the heck out of us all by playing not only their legendary dozen or so songs, but also mixing in some totally unexpected old deep cuts, and some new stuff as well. The band has tried several lead vocalists since Steve Perry refused to come back, and after several so-so attempts they have finally found a guy who can actually pull it off in Arnel Pineda. In fact, his youth allows him to actually sing the stuff with power, which unfortunately Perry, now in his 60's, likely could no longer do even if he were so inclined.

The big surpises were they played "Lo Do Da" from Infinity (rocked like nothing else), "Chain Reaction" from Frontiers, "Escape," the title track of the album Escape (a song I've only come to fully appreciate in the past few years, so really nice to hear it included in the set), and "Feeling That Way / Anytime," a song that originally featured Greg Rollie on vocals -- dating back to before Perry was the man. All great songs that I never expected to hear.

The new stuff is also high quality -- a great mix of jazz, rhythm and blues, power balads, and flat out guitar-driven rock. "Change For the Better" absolutely rocked the house.

Those that labelled this band as corporate rock should listen to the stuff from before and after the "corporate" years, and also listen to the deep cuts on the albums during the corporate years. It's good to see them back, and to see them pulling off concerts at the same level as they did in the early 80's.

Second, I got the call from my brother-in-law Mike today. He works for the Atlanta Braves. He called and said the words I've been longing to hear: "If I can get a couple of World Series tickets at Wrigley, are you in?" The team has their best chance of getting there this year than in any of the years I've followed them (dating back to the early 80s). They have clinched home field advantage through the National League playoffs. They have a combo of power, speed, offensive approach, defense, deep starting pitching (even though I think Big Z's arm is still hurting), and the best one-two bullpen combo in baseball right now in Marmol and Wood. They really could do it. Sweet Lou is an old school manager who is not afaid to play the hot hand, no matter who that is or isn't. I smell a shot at glory. After two and a half decades of suffering with these guys, I can't even imagine being at the Friendly Confines for a Fall Classic.

And if Mike comes through with a couple of WS tix at Wrigley, I'll owe him more than words can say.

Strange that these two fun things in my life come now that I am back here in the Midwest, the place where I first fell in love with this band and this team. There is something sentimental about it -- something that is helping me connect the past with the future. It's also just a whole lot of fun.