Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Dream Come True

Do you know why we're not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Because we're still ROCKIN'!

--Mike Reno, of Loverboy
July 12, 2008
Akron, Ohio

It was about 10 minutes until five at work on Friday and my co-workers were wrapping things up. I was on the late shift, which means I had to stay until six. We were all saying our good-bye's and sharing what we had planned for the weekend. Brian, our newest trainer, mentioned he was going to see Loverboy at Lock 3 in Akron.

"Oh my God, Loverboy?!?" I asked.

"Yeah, it's only five bucks to get in," he explained.

"Five bucks?!?"

"Yeah," he replied.

I immediately accessed Google and searched for the details. Lo and be hold, it was true. I immediately picked up the phone and called Betty. I quickly told her about the concert and asked her if she wanted to go and of course she did.

So yesterday, after spending a lovely afternoon putting together our new pool and splashing around in it, we dragged the kids out, got them dressed and hit the road. It spent a good ten minutes raining cats and dogs as we fretted that the rain would close the show. But the sun was shining brightly even as fat drops pounded the windshield. We kept the faith and continued north.

We found the venue without incident, parked the car for free and hiked the two blocks to Lock 3, a little park in the middle of the city at the site of the Akron Toy Company, the first American factory to mass produce toys, clay marbles in fact. I hadn't been to Akron in years and I was surprised to see how nice it is. There were people out and about, trendy bars and restaurants and the University of Akron buildings lent the area a sort of Cambridge, MA feel to the area.

We made our way to the entrance where a security guard and an Akron police officer asked, very nicely, to check our bags. The police officer was smiling and handed out police badge stickers to the girls. The entrance lead to a set of long, sloping stairs that took us down to the amphitheater and a well-kept little park. We paid our five bucks each (the kids were free!) and strolled down toward the chair rental barn.

The opening act, Super Satellite, was already well into their set as we tried to find the best place to sit. Of course, we tried front and center, about fifty feet back from the stage. However, this was too close for the kids delicate and uncalloused ear drums. So we tried a few other locations, eventually settling towards the back and on the hill.

The girls immediately made friends with a few other girls in the area and they played, dancing around the lamp post and hovering over the storm drain. At one point, Lucy and Riley laid down on the blanket we streched out and Lucy fell asleep for a while. It did begin to rain and we pulled out my umbrella and snuggled up under it. I wish I had thought to bring my camera to capture the moment when everyone seemed to open their umbrellas at the same time; it was really cool.

When Super Satellite finished their set, they said they'd be selling copies of their CD's at the merchandising booth. They were pretty good, so I thought I'd go over and get a copy, if it wasn't too expensive. I made my way over and the lead singer was just getting off his cell phone. I told him I'd like a copy of his CD and he told me it was five bucks. I only had a twenty, so he reached into his jeans pocket and struggled to come up with the change. I thought he'd offer to sign it but he didn't and so I thanked him, wished him luck and went back to our seats.

"Did he sign it?" Elizabeth asked.

"No, maybe I should go back and ask him?"

"You'll regret it if you don't," she said and of course she was right.

"I would feel stupid going back and asking for his autograph."

"Here, I'll do it," she said as she reached for the CD.

Can you see why I love her? She returned with the autograph and told me how nice he was. I tucked the CD away in my purse as our attention was turned to the MC for the night, a sixty something year old gentleman with white hair and a quirky personality.

"In just a few moments Loverboy will be coming out. They've had a lovely time in Akron. The Barley House set them up with a great meal and they are ready to rock! It looks like the rain won't get in our way tonight. There is no lightning; it's just a few showers making their way through. And like my mother used to say, if there's enough blue sky to patch a hole in a Dutchman's pants, then the weather will hold."

Elizabeth and I cracked up at this last line. Neither one of us had ever heard anything like it. He continued to chatter away and give out prizes for correctly answered trivia questions. He also explained that procedes from the entrance fees were to be donated to the Akron Children's Hospital. I thought this was wonderful. Apparently, the city footed the bill for the band.

And finally, he announced the band and my heart leapt. You see, Loverboy was the first band I was really into as a tween. MTV had just come out and Loverboy was one of the first to have their videos shown. I had fallen in love with Mike Reno, the dynamic frontman. I remember that one summer my friend Tami and I had spent with MTV on in the background. We would play cards or draw with one ear waiting for the first few notes of Turn Me Loose to emit from the TV so that we could stop whatever we were doing and soak it up.

I can remember sitting in front of her sister's turntable with the lyrics in front of us, singing along to all their songs, staring at Reno's dreamy visage. At the roller rink, we'd skate the hardest when Loverboy was played. We had our Members Only jackets, we had our Loverboy buttons and we had our red bandana head bands. We dreamed of the day when one day, she would marry the bass player, Scott Smith and I would Marry Mike Reno and we would travel the world, rockin'.

Of course, that never happened. I never even got to see him in concert when he toured with another favorite of mine, Joan Jett. But Elizabeth did. She begged her mother for two days until she relented.

So there I was, Loverboy was hitting the stage and I was about to see if they were all they were cracked up to be and not just studio magic.

"I have to go to the bathroom," Riley said as the first strands of Notorious started to play.

"Of course you do," I said, ruefully.

We rushed to the bathrooms and I impatiently goaded her and Lucy to hurry up. After filling up at the drinking fountain, we went back outside to hear the end of Get Lucky playing. It was amazing. I'm not even sure where to start to explain the experience.

I guess I could start with the bands high level of musicianship. During one of the numbers, the went into an extended jam and played with the melody lines, at one point playing a Doors song (Elizabeth can help me out here with the details). It was intricate and willowy and I started to see that they were more than their corporate rock image.

And what can I say about Mike Reno's voice other than that it's a gift. It's a pure tenor and can be set beside the likes of Ian Gillan and Robert Plant. At one point during the show, I turned to Elizabeth and said, "He could totally play Jesus!" That would be in Jesus Christ Superstar of course, which Elizabeth and I are continually trying to recast. I listed in awe, my twelve year old heart reawakened. I remembered exactly why I loved Mike Reno.

Mike told the crowd that the band would be selling their new CD "Just Getting Started" and they would be signing autographs. Elizabeth and I turned to each other and I said, "I'm totally having him sign my tits!"

"I dare you!" she said.

But it wasn't to be. I had a six and four year old to think of afterall. Besides, Elizabeth had brought something along that was more appropriate: souveniers from the concert she saw with her mother so many years ago. Alas, by the time we gathered our stuff up and headed toward where we thought they would be, we were told that the "venue had to be cleared." We headed back to the car with two weary kids, vowing that next time we saw Loverboy, there'd be a babysitter.


  1. Help with the details?! I recorded it!

    I also put up the video of the girls initial reaction to the pool (they did love it, once it was put together). It's a temporary posting. I'll take it down after eveybody who reads this blog has enough time to see it.

  2. you didn't tell me you were going to have your tits autographed!

    And I thought we were calling Betty "Fearsome Flush" now-- after the Ghostbuster's toy

  3. Cap'n,

    The tits thing was an impromtu idea and I think her good judgement would have ruled it out anyway.

    As far as Fearsome Flush goes, I'm not sure I want to be associated with a toilet that has a tongue. I'm not that creepy, am I?

  4. I saw Loverboy on City Island in Harrisburg in '81 - Huey Lewis opened for them if you can believe that. I think I still have the t-shirt!


    I would have loved to have been there, but not being the biggest LB fan, I'll totally babysit! I mean, not that you would want me to, there's so many smarter choices, but I would totally babysit so you two could go see Reno & Co. again, I'm glad you had this experience. I love Lock 3, too. This whole story just tickles me. I'm thrilled, and very sorry to hear there was no Betty tit-signing.

  6. Mike Reno! Doesn't he sing "Almost Paradise" with Ann Wilson? I never knew he was in "Loverboy". Forgive me for being just a couple years younger.

    I did see Pat Benatar at Pleasure Island at Disney.

  7. Hey Genn, I didn't say I was having MY boobs signed!

  8. Oh! duh, yeah....well, I'd expect that more from you than from Flann, but since she offered, I'd say it's a certainty for next time.

  9. Ditto on the "Hey"! You'd EXPECT that from ME?! I spent my entire young adulthood intentionally NOT engaging in groupie-like behavior. Otherwise, I could have easily bagged you-know-who!

  10. Aww... I love your posts, Flannery!!

  11. but we're all old now, and young groupies do what they do so they can shag the band, old perverted ladies our age do it for the fun of pretending we're still young enough to be groupies. Betty is a rock n' roll girl all the way, it would be the cutest thing! ;)