Another happy Journey anniversary
OCT. 22, 1981 ... Lakeland Civic Center, Lakeland, Fla.: Journey with special guests Loverboy.
This is the concert that basically started Stuck in the '80s, gang, so I celebrate it each year with the usual traditions (the wearing of a pitifully undersized jersey concert shirt, followed by the inhaling of Chicken McNuggets, a strawberry shake and a big ole bag of stink-weed).
No, no. I'm kidding on that last part (it was a chocolate shake.) JOKE! I was 14 years old, so no illegal substances were involved. Instead, what I got was Steve Perry and Co. on their Escape tour -- probably the most surreal and perfect concert experience ... at least to someone without a driver's license.
Here's my retro-review of the concert that changed everything.
GENERAL ADMISSION: In those days, if you want a front-row seat just get there early and run to the stage when the doors opened. (Send a friend to buy your concert shirt.) And yeah, there are no seats. So enjoy standing up for the next 5 hours or so.
WORKING FOR THE WEEKEND: At that point in time, we'd maybe heard one Loverboy song on the radio -- Working for the Weekend. I'm not even sure their names were on the ticket stub (which cost about $12 back then). But the boys from Canada made a quick impression. I'm pretty sure they convinced half the audience to buy a Loverboy disc within the following 48 hours.
'THIS IS MY ESCAPE:' Per tradition, Journey opened with the title cut of the new album -- Escape. Not a memorable song per se. But I still get chills hearing it today. The next song -- Line of Fire, complete with a pyrotechnic explosion instead of a gunshot at the big moment halfway through.
DON'T STOP BELIEVING: Another Journey tradition -- changing the lyrics to their signature hit to reflect whatever town they're playing that night. "Just a city boy, born and raised ... right here in Lakeland."(FYI, nobody would make the mistake of calling Lakeland an actual city.)
PRESERVED FOREVER: The Escape tour lives on, thanks to a Steve Perry-produced DVD of the tour's stop in Houston, just a mere week after the Lakeland show. Yes, I own it. (And yes, I'll be watching it again today.)
WHY I REMEMBER THE DATE: October 22 also happens to be the birthday of Momma Spearsy, who was kind enough to let me attend what would become my first concert. Every year on this date, I call her in the morning and ask if she remembers the day of the Journey concert. She merely responds: "I just remember it made you so happy." Thanks and happy birthday, Mom!
[Listen to our podcast interview with Journey bassist Ross Valory, whose fly is open in the publicity photo above]