NOTE: This spring and summer were very busy, as well as very eventful for me. I got way behind with posting on the Dog Blog. I am going to try to catch up, and as I do I will post events in chronological order. Some of them were a while ago but I will write what I remember.
The first day of the trip had been fun. We had done some sightseeing in Atlanta and gone to a Brewer game. But now we were finally on the road. We had to cover about 450 miles to get to Tampa for the Rush concert that evening. Google Maps said it would take about six and a half hours. We had already traveled about an hour from Atlanta. Even with a leisurely start, we would be able to make it easily for the 7:30 concert. We spent the drive talking and joking and listening to music. We had lots of tunes along - I had brought copies of about half a dozen of my Rush CD's. It helped Mickey get familiar with their newest stuff and generally got us excited about the show later that night.
This would be the third Rush concert that Mickey and I had seen together. The first time was in Boise way back in May 1996 when Mickey, his brother Tim and I saw them at the Boise State University Pavilion (it wasn't called Taco Bell Arena yet) on the Test For Echo Tour. Mickey was only five years old and it was a really long show - all of Rush's concerts are two and a half hours long or more. It was getting late and Mickey actually fell asleep during the second set. He might be the only person who ever slept through a rock concert. I wouldn't have thought it possible but I saw it with my own eyes.
Several years later in 2002 we planned a road trip to go see them at The Gorge Ampitheatre in Washington on the Vapor Trails Tour, but for some unknown reason Mickey wimped out at the very last minute. I don't want people to think that I hold a grudge, but I'm still unhappy with him about that.
He did get another chance in 2008, although we really had to go to extremes. I was living in Singapore and he had just finished his senior year in high school in Boise. When I came back to the US during the summer, I spent a week in Milwaukee staying with my parents. I got a airline ticket for Mickey and he came out to Milwaukee for the week as well. We did a lot of stuff while we were there but the high point was going to see Rush play at Summerfest. As always, it was a great show and this time Mickey managed to stay awake the entire time.
So this would be three Rush concerts that we had seen together. Well, for Mickey maybe you should call it about 2.7 concerts.
We reached Tampa at three in the afternoon and drove to Amalie Arena, which is downtown right next to the water. Since it was Sunday afternoon it was pretty dead. That was a good thing. We didn't want to fight traffic. We took a short drive along Tampa Bay. There were some expensive houses and a nice walking/running path right on the water. Pretty. Then we drove back to the arena and parked. Being early, we had our choice of spots.
Only two blocks away from the arena is Channelside Bay Plaza, a development with lots of specialty retail stores, bars and restaurants. It was busy because they were setting up for a big "Lightning Watch" party. The Tampa Bay Lightning, who play at Amalie Arena, were in the Stanley Cup playoffs. That night they had a road game in New York, game five of the semifinals. There was a giant tv set up in the center plaza and there were Lightning fans everywhere, there to watch the game together. There was even a local radio station giving away beer. We stood in line and said "Go Bolts!" to get our free drinks. If I had wanted to be mean I could have given away that Mickey is actually a big NY Rangers fan and he wouldn't have gotten anything. He might even have been lynched.
With the two events that evening, there was quite a crowd at the Plaza. It seemed to be split about 50/50 between Lightning hockey jerseys and Rush concert tshirts. Prize for best tshirt of the night went to a lady wearing a tshirt that said "Yes, I'm a girl. And yes, I speak fluent Rush."
We also each got a coupon for a free Lightning beer glass, which could be redeemed at any of the restaurants there. But when we had dinner at Hooters, they were already out. So Mickey went on a search to find someplace that still had the glasses. He eventually found them at a Mexican restaurant. Fortunately the food there must not have been very good, since it wasn't very crowded and they still had the glasses. We put them in the car after dinner and went to the arena.
Since the stage and floor seating was over the ice that the Lightning play on, Geddy Lee started the evening with some hockey humor. "I'm Canadian, so it's exciting to see ice this late in the spring. But since I'm from Toronto, we never see it in April." The reference was to the fact that the Maple Leafs haven't done well in the playoffs for years.
The concert was awesome. They started with their newest stuff from Clockwork Angels and went back in time. Each song that they played was older. And as they played, the stage hands were always swapping out the equipment behind them. They started with the newest, fanciest stuff, back to older amps and speakers, and finally to minimalist equipment that they had started out with.
There was cool video during Roll The Bones, with various actors and musicians that the group knows mouthing the words to the rap. During intermission they played the segment from South Park with Lil Rush playing Tom Sawyer, which segued into the real band starting the second set with that song. It was hilarious and for the rest of the trip, "I'm Geddy Lee and I can sing whatever I want!" became our standard response whenever one of us was challenged on anything.
What can I say. The concert was awesome. They played for two and a half hours and it still seemed like it went by too fast.