Thursday, August 5, 2010

My Kind of Town (Part 1)

So, it's been a few days now, and I'm slowly recovering from the most Awesomely-AWESOME weekend I've had in a long, long while.  As I type this I'm sitting in the lobby of a very nice hotel in Cleveland, OH, sipping wine and missing my Jovi-Gal Pals.  It's just not nearly as fun drinking in a hotel lobby without them.

Ah, where to begin...

Well, it's summer.  Time for family vacations, right? This year our clan was due for one of those load-up-the-family-truckster road trips to visit Hub's relatives, aka "The Outlaws." I saw this one coming a mile away; it has been three years since we last visited.  Being the resourceful Catte I am, I decided early-on to work this situation to my advantage.

Now, Hub and I have been together for 23 years. His family seemed normal enough in the beginning; but then again I was young and naive and in love.  See, Hub has one of those big, boisterous Polish Catholic families who do EVERYTHING together. They can't go out to the mailbox without calling each other first.  Needless to say, being the extremely independent and impatient person I am, my tolerance for this level of togetherness is low.  In fact, the window is about 12 hours.

But because it's what you do for the one you love, when the topic of a family visit came up earlier this year I gritted my teeth and said "Sure, Honey. We'll go spend a week with your mother this summer."  I knew then it was gonna be the longest week of my life.  (And turns out it was...  If you've been following me on Twitter the past week and a half, you know what I mean.)

But once again the Bon Jovi Boys came to my rescue.  They announced their North American Stadium swing, ending at Soldier Field in Chicago, a mere hour away from The Outlaws.  Sweet Salvation.  And not only that, the show was smack-dab between Hub's birthday and mine.  Perfect excuse to leave the Cattelet with her Grammy and escape to the city for a long weekend.


It didn't take much to convince Hub about the weekend sans kid, and he was positively drooling at the idea of staying at the very sexy Hard Rock Hotel.  He also saw the brilliance of having said hotel room immediately available post-show, when his wife was still deep in the throes of Sambora-rapture.  Hub may be a PITA sometimes, but he ain't stupid. :)

So it came to pass that Hub had a Spiritual Experience last Friday night.  A Jovi-Virgin for 23 years, he finally got to see what exactly all the fuss was about; why his wife spent the past four months and undisclosed amounts of cash schlepping around the country to rock-and-roll shows far and near.  I'm proud to say he thoroughly enjoyed it.  And the concert too, LOL.

It would probably be going a bit far to say Hub is now a devoted member of Jonny's Church of Rock and Roll.  He won't be insisting I take him with me to all the shows on the next leg of The Circle Tour (Thank God).  But he gets it. And he admits that Friday night's Bon Jovi concert in Chicago was one of the best he's ever seen.

Friday morning we hopped the train from Northern Indiana with about 500 other future concert goers, then wheeled our luggage 2 blocks to our very nice, very hip hotel.  Jovi Gals Willow and Deb and Jean were arriving about the same time, and we all met up at Navy Pier for a nice lunch.  This served as an initiation of sorts for Hub; Willow and I figured we should ease him into the madcap Fandom World a little at a time so he wouldn't be overwhelmed (or scared).  After everyone got acquainted we returned to our various hotels to get ready for the show, with a plan to reconvene at our hotel for pre-show drinks in the bar.

Pre-show drinks in the bar turned into 2 bottles of wine in our hotel room (Three Blind Moose Pinot Grigio and Red Guitar Tempranillo).  We Gals played "guess the setlist" (and were pretty damned close), and teased Hub about staging a photo shoot a la the naughty puppy pics of Jonny that had just surfaced that week. He didn't quite get it... which was probably a good thing. : )

After our refreshments we all piled into a cab for the trek to Soldier Field.  We managed to get a cabbie who had no idea how bad traffic would be, and the one-mile ride took 35 minutes.  Good thing we all like each other.  Once we arrived we hiked ALL the way around the stadium to claim our tickets at the Backstage tent, then navigated security and beer and bathroom lines.

Once we tried to actually get to our seats the fun began.  Seems Soldier Field had never hosted a concert before -- or at least that's how they acted.  After being sent to three different places we finally obtained the required wristbands and headed for our seats, before Kid Rock started his set.

Hub and I had seats practically Circleside on David's side of the stage.  The look on his face was priceless as I led him to our chairs, just 15 feet from the ramp.  "Holy Shit!" he exclaimed.  "How did you get such good seats?"  I smirked and answered.  "These seats?  Well, they're okay.  See, being in the Fan Club does have some benefits."  I didn't think it would be prudent at that point to bring up the fact that Willow and I had Pit Seats for the next night; I just let him bask in my Awesomeness, LOL.

We took some photos, had a beer, then out came Kid Rock in all his greasy, sinewy, foul-mouthed glory.  Hub was loving it; he thinks Kid... well, Rocks.  And so he did.  It was one helluva set.  Hub was even more impressed by his "rock and roll experience" when Security busted five guys behind us who were passing around a little Wacky Tobaccy.

After Kid's set our seat-neighbors arrived and I had to laugh out loud at Hub's expression.  The only words I can come up with to describe the "young lady" are "teenaged prostitute."  Seriously:  5-inch heels and a 5-inch long skirt.  The "young man" looked like he was headed to a Jay-Z show with his four-sizes-too-big denim shorts and Timberland work boots and Sox cap on sideways.  Hey, as Jon often says, there is true diversity in this audience.

The lights went down, the video went up, and Hub excitedly snuggled his arm around my waist.  "Not yet--wait 'til the show's over!" I hissed as he squeezed my ass.  "Richie's coming out!"  Then there he was, working the talkbox to the opening bars of Blood on Blood.  And off we went.

Several times in the opening two songs I snuck a peek at Hub and saw him staring wide-eyed as Jon pranced and preened and threw his hands in the air and strummed furiously on that black Takamine.  Apparently our frontman can cast the same spell over men as he can women, because Hub was mesmerized.  By the time Bad Name came out, Hub was singing along, shouting out "YOU GIVE LO-O-O-VE A BAD NAME!!!" with gusto.

I could see my work was done.

On the show went, me dancing and singing and shaking my booty in between snapping photos and taking video, and Hub fully into it by my side.  He even gasped out "Oh My God! I Love This Song!" when Jon launched into Lost Highway.  I'm sure he'll deny ever making such a girlish statement when confronted.  I got that one on video (it was one of the BEST performances of that song I've ever seen), and Hub has already watched it 5 times.  And we're not even home yet.

It's My Life, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead, We Got It Going On... Hub and I danced and sang and smooched and cuddled.  He was having the time of his life. My heart almost burst with pride when he elbowed me and nodded toward our young seat-neighbors and said "what the Hell is THEIR problem?"

Girlie and her Boy had stood through exactly TWO songs -- Blood on Blood and It's My Life.  The rest of the time they had been perched on their folding chairs, playing with her iPhone, trying to make phone calls, posing for goofy pictures of themselves, and sucking face.  Needless to say the couple and their posse of 6 left somewhere mid-Runaway, never to return.  Which was fine with us; we just scooted down Circleside.

(NOTE:  If you haven't read Tony K's review of this show, you should.  These idiots were the EXACT people he was talking about when he described the lackluster crowd.)

Anyway, Hub was totally into it, and was practically in a Jovi-frenzy when Kid & Co joined the band for the Jukebox Song, Bob Seger's Old Time Rock and Roll.  I suspected that would be the night's selection and was glad Hub got to see it, as it is one of his favorite songs.  Then we went to church with Richie (during which time I wasn't really aware Hub was even there, LOL), and it was time for Jonny on the circle.

We cuddled and sang to Bed of Roses and Diamond Ring (in between me gasping and shooting photos), and somewhere mid-I'll Be There For You Hub nuzzled up to my ear and softly cooed the most beautiful words I've heard him utter in years.  "You're right, Babe.  These guys are fucking awesome."

That right there GUARANTEED he was getting laid post-show.  Repeatedly.

The rest of the show passed for me in a state of bliss -- my Hub GOT it.  Watching him enjoy the show and seeing the performance through his eyes was absolutely exhilarating.  It reminded me again just how this music can resonate with someone, with anyone; how it reaches in and touches your soul in a very personal way.  I always suspected deep-down in my Dear Hub there was a Jovi fan waiting to be released.  I was right.

As I watched Hub discover the Joy of Jovi I had to laugh at how excited he got when The Boys started playing Who Says You Can't Go Home... and I didn't.  He gave me a look that clearly said "What is WRONG with you?" then proceeded to throw his hands in the air and shout "It's Alright!" while I checked Twitter on my Blackberry before shooting a few more photos.

Then IT happened... Sympathy for the Devil, right in the middle of Keep the Faith.  I was shooting photos and saw Jon look at Hugh.  I gasped and squealed to Hub "OH MY GOD! HE'S GONNA DO IT!" and hit the "record" button on my camera.  Hub didn't know what the Hell I was talking about, but the minute he heard those notes he went nuts too.  I daresay our marriage became even more "forever" in that moment.

We took a breather before the encore, and I was proud that Hub didn't even attempt to sit.  He kept saying "What are they gonna do?  What songs did you girls predict?"  He was almost giddy; it was adorable.  Then we got Always (my prediction).  Again Hub and I snuggled and smooched, then we swayed and sang along with Wanted and bounced along with Prayer.  Hub didn't even roll his eyes when I squealed and snapped away when Jonny stripped to don the Blackhawks Jersey somebody had tossed onstage.  Good Man, my Hub.

Then it was done.  Hub actually looked sad.  I was on the highest of highs -- everything had gone as I hoped. We got one helluva show, one that seemed tailor-made to convince Hub that all those concerts I had previously attended with the girls were in fact worth it.  Jon must have had that little voice in his ear as he made out the setlist... "Hey, do this one for Mr. Catte."  Damned if he didn't nail it.

By this time it was nearly midnight... and almost my birthday.  We were celebrating Deb's birthday on Friday night; mine was Saturday.  We were both of the same mind: what better way to celebrate than with Bon Jovi -- in The Pit?"  Deb had scored third-row pit seats via the secondary market, and when she got to the venue she discovered to her delight she and Jean got "The Chairs."  My response to her excited text was "WOW! How Cool!"  followed by "How the Hell are you gonna get them home?"  (Turns out it cost $190.00 to UPS them).

Well, as we were gathering our wits and our swag to go, Willow got a text from Deb.  She turned to me and shrieked "Hurry! She got us CHAIRS!"  And indeed our dear Deb had.  Seems the couple sitting in front of her and Jean had split before the show was over, abandoning their fancy-schmancy Bon Jovi folding chairs.  Being quick of mind and even quicker of hand, Deb grabbed them both and smuggled them out of the Pit for us.  I will be forever grateful to her for that, despite the fact we had to lug them about 2 1/2 miles before we could find a cab.  (I'm also insanely jealous that Jean got one of Richie's guitar picks, but I digress.)

So, to the strains of Sinatra crooning "My Kind of Town... Chicago is..." we made our way out of Soldier Field, folding chairs in our hands, songs in our hearts.  We were directed to hike to Michigan Avenue to hail a cab, only to find everybody else and their mothers were doing the same thing.  So we started to hike up Michigan Ave, carrying folding chairs.

We must have been asked at least a hundred times, "Ummm... why are you carrying chairs?"  Of course, it didn't dawn on us to just park the damned chairs on the corner and sit down and wait for a cab.  But they did come in handy when we decided to stop at Subway for a sandwich and drink after an hour of trudging/lugging.  There were five of us, two tables on the patio, and one chair.  Perfect.  We clunked down our chairs, opened 'em up, and sat.

Finally, after about 20 minutes of rest and nourishment we were able to hail a cab back to the Hard Rock Hotel.  After a few more glasses of wine in our room and much "oohing" and "aahing" over each others' photos, Deb, Jean, and Willow said their goodnights.  It was 3:30 a.m.  About normal for a Jovi Night.

As for what happened after that, I'll be modest for once and leave it to your imagination.  Let's just say Hub and I enjoyed watching the sun rise over Michigan Ave from the amazing view of our hotel room.

My Kind of Town, Chicago Is....

Tune in tomorrow for Part 2....