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A Short Overview of my Concert History

I came late in life to concert-going. Unless you count supporting friends who were in bands in high school and college, my concert-going experience only goes back almost 8 years to July 11, 2010.
The year before (Feb. 2009) I had met Kimberly, who had a much longer history of attending concerts, and she seemed to be intent on introducing me to the fun of it all. She had noted my interest in the music of Sting and when it was announced that the Geordie singer (Geordie is slang for people who hail from Newcastle, UK), would be performing in Bristow, Virginia at the Jiffy Lube (formerly Nissan) Pavilion she snapped up a couple of tickets.
Sting in concert with Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in Bristow, Northern Virginia

My interest in Sting sprang from the fact that he grew up and spent his earlier life (somewhat surprisingly he was an English teacher in Gateshead, UK) in an area that was my local major city (Newcastle) growing up in the English-Scottish border country. He was, like Prince was for Minnesotans, one of our own who had made it big in the music industry. When Oscar-winning director Mike Figgis (himself a Geordie) scripted the movie “Stormy Monday” he set it in their mutual hometown and naturally wanted Sting to play the lead role (being from Newcastle, Sting would after all have no problem with the distinctive local dialect).

Anyway, the story goes that Sting’s agent called the Newcastle-born and bred musician/actor, telling him that a script had arrived for which the director wanted him to star in, and asked Sting if he had ever heard of a place called Newcastle in northern England – oops, I don’t know if Sting kept the ill-informed agent, or fired him on the spot for being such a knuckle-head.

But I digress, and the choice of Sting as my concert-of-choice remains one of two best concert experiences (the second is another Sting concert). The 2010 event was part of Sting’s Symphonicity Tour where instead of a traditional back-up band, the music duties were handled by a full-scale orchestra, in this case the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The concert was in support of his 2010 album Symphonicities and featured material from the album as well as several hits from his solo career and The Police. He also gave some background to the music he was playing, which included discussion of one of my favorite tracks (“Russians”) which apparently sprang from viewing Russian television while visiting a friend in Washington, D.C.

The atmosphere was purely electric, and to see one of my heroes up close in the flesh was the sort of rush that I had only experienced only once before (two years earlier I had made the drive up to New York to as see and shake hands with Bond actor Roger Moore). After the Sting concert I was hooked and indeed less than two years later (November 2011) I was able to see Sting perform again at D.A.R. Constitution Hall in Washington, DC. That was part of his Back To Bass concert series which, as the name might suggest, emphasized the Bass guitar and on this night Sting mentioned his hometown Newcastle since one of the guitarists was also a Geordie. It was a fantastic night and the swarm of people heading for the Metro station after the show caught some late night commuters off guard who presumed that a basketball game must have just ended.
Sting in concert at the DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.

Unfortunately the next concert experience was a less-than-happy one. On Oct. 14, 2012 Peter Gabriel, whose music I really enjoy, played a concert at the Patriot Center, George Mason University. At first it seemed to me that the video system was playing up, as all these colors and “effects” played across the screen. I mentioned this “malfunction” to Kim and to my abject horror she told me the video screen “effects” were being intentionally manipulated and were a part of the show. The effects were so disturbing to my senses that I was forced to close my eyes and just listen to the music or to avert my eyes from the stage. I literally could not get out of the arena fast enough as the video psychedelic effects literally made me dizzy and sick. It was a very unhappy experience, but at least the music was good.

Nevertheless I was not deterred for on July 12th, 2013 I accompanied Kim and two of her friends to see Paul McCartney in concert at Nationals ballpark in downtown Washington, D.C. Initially the two extra tickets had been purchased for Kim’s parents – her father being a fan of the Beatles, but my mother-in-law refused them and so we offered the two tickets to Kim’s friends. The seating was however in such a position that we could not see the stage and so had to rely on the video screens to view the concert.

Still Paul McCartney did wave to each section (I feel fairly certain he waved directly at me) and the fireworks synchronized with his rendition of “Live and Let Die” were a nice touch. I still found some of the effects sickening, bit not to the extent of the Gabriel concert. I had a great time and part of my faith in concerts had been redeemed.

My last concert was when Neil Diamond played at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC on April 4, 2015. It was a fun event and the rendition of “America” had everyone on their feet with a large star-spangled banner on the video screens and shots of a band-headed eagle in flight. It’s somewhat surprising that it’s fast approaching on three years since I last went to a concert but in light of his recent retirement announcement I am glad that I got to see Diamond live.

Such an eclectic taste in music…but, except in the Gabriel instance, some very happy memories.

About The Author


Born on the English-Scottish border I emigrated to the US after graduating college in 1995 and became a U.S. citizen in 2007. I have served in the U.S. military and my past positions include as an Assistant Managing Editor of The Washington Post Company, a technical writer working on technical documentation for both a construction company and a large government contractor, a graphic designer creating graphics in support of government contract proposals, and as a public affairs officer for the U.S. Navy. which included being assigned as the official writer for the Navy and DoD on the assumption ceremony of a new Secretary of the Navy. I am currently a Web Services Writer for a large government contractor in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

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