Dallas, Texas 16/4/99
Jennifer McDonald - Canada
This entire trip wouldn't have happened if my friend Sarah hadn't contacted me by e-mail on March 18th with the news that Bryan and the guys were doing several American concerts, including three in her home state of Texas.
After staying up until 3am the previous night, I was back up at 8am to triple check my suitcases and try to sit still long enough to have a bit of breakfast. I was so impatient to actually get to the airport and cover the 1700 miles to Dallas, but at the same time I was really nervous at the thought that this is really happening. I hadn't seen the guys since February 1998. All I kept hoping was that I'd be lucky enough to meet Keith after the show; that would cap off the trip of a lifetime!!!
I'd decided to fly out of an Americal airport instead of the one in Toronto to avoid having to fill out the Customs forms on the plane. It seemed easier to just drive through the inspection booth and talk to a real person instead of wrestling with forms. Boy, was I wrong!!! When I answered the citizenship question with "Canada" the customers inspector, for some reason, decided he didn't like my answer and claimed I had an "attitude problem"! He spent ten minutes berating me at the booth, telling me tht I had no right to enter the US and he
.could refuse me entry at any time. I tried explaining that there was no problem and I just wanted to catch my plane, but he decided to hold things up even longer by going through my luggage and asking for ID. Just when I thought I was about to scream, he suddenly handed back my flight tickets and ID and let me pass (glaring at me all the while!!!).
My plane left from Buffalo, NY 45 mins late, which mean't that I missed my connecting flight in Chicago, one of the busiest airports there is. I was put on the next available flight to Dallas, which also left 2 hours late due to mechanical difficulties (just what I love to hear before lifting off the ground)! I finally arrived in Dallas five hours later than planned, but I actually made it!
I woke up this morning so excited, wondering what the concert would be like. It was to be a general admission show which mean't that the minute those doors opened, I would have to sprint for Keith's side of the stage if I wanted to get close. I'd brough my Fan Club membership card and badge, and hoped that I would end up close enough to the stage that Keith would be able to see them. My friend Sarah and her friends arrived at the hotel from last night's show in Austin by about 2.15pm and after they checked in and put their luggage away, we all
headed to the hotel's restaurant for a quick bite to eat before leaving for the concert at the Arcadia Theatre.
It was only a short drive to the theatre, and we decided to park around the back of the building, which seemed to be the only lot available. By around 4.15 we were in line (with only about five people ahead of us!) at the doors, which would open at 7pm. the line grew in a hurry, and after an hour had gone by, one of the theatre's staff came out and announced that all parking was for valet, and cars without valet parking tags would be towed! Sarah bought a parking tag from the guy and we headed back out to her car to put the tag on the dashboard. After doing that, we decided to take a shorter route back to our spot in line by walking through the alley and past the backstage door. There was one tour bus parked near it and a lot of guys standing either beside it or on the transport truck with the stage equipment in it. It didn't look like Keith and the guys had arrived yet, and just as we were commenting on that, a white van came roaring into the alley, nearly mowing us down. We hopped out of the way and I looked up in time to see three familiar faces inside! We stopped to watch, and when the van came to a halt by the backstage door, Bryan took off and galloped into the theatre. Keith and Mickey came out next, but in no hurry. They were talking to each other as they removed knapsacks from the back of the van.I desperately wanted to call out "hello" but figured that if I did that, the entire crowd of people in line would come charging over to see them. With the little privacy they already have, I didn't want to take that away from them, so Sarah and I just stayed until they went in through the backstage door and then we headed back to the lineup.
By about 6pm the crowd was getting impatient. We could all hear the soundcheck when it started and everyone was singing along with the music. The soundcheck didn't last long, they ran through "Run To You" and an incredible bluesy version of "Rock Steady", plus bits and pieces of others. At 6.30pm I did a double take as I saw Keith jog out from the side door to the theatre and head across the street. One of the girls at the front of the line saw him too, and began screaming his name, so he turned and waved before continuing on.
At 7.10pm the doors finally opened and we moved like a herd of cattle into the front of the building, toward another set of doors that separated the club itself from the bar. We were warned ahead of time that inside the club were several sets of stairs to watch out for, so would we please not run (yeah, right!). After ten mins of waiting, the doors opened and everyone pelted inside like racehorses, myself included. Never mind the stairs, I just grabbed the handrail and vaulted them until I was - unbelievably - standing in the front row up against Keith's side of the stage!!! The stage itself was
about five feet high, so there was no need for security to stand at the front. Against the stage they had placed metal barricades about three feet high, these had a bottom rung about a foot from the ground that would be possible to climb on. By about 7.45pm the opening act came on (Linda Perry, formally of 4 Non Blondes) and she was quite impressive! But it wasn't her I was waiting for...
It was about 8.50 when the lights suddenly dimmed again and everyone started screaming. I made sure that my membership badge was pinned to my shirt and visable, and within a minute Keith, Bryan and Mickey flew out and launched into Summer Of '69! Both Keith and Bryan were dressed completely in white (to remind us of the Cloud No. 9 video?). they included a lot of new material: On A Day Like Today, Before The Night Is Over, When You're Gone, I Don't Wanna Live Forever, Getaway (sped up a bit from the album version and sounding incredible), Cloud No. 9 (semi-accoustic from the original), and C'mon, C'mon, C'mon, which was incredibly haunting...Keith's playing was flawless, and the new material sounded absolutely amazing!!! He seemed to enjoy taking every opportunity to stand at the edges of the stage, playing right over the heads of the lucky people in the front row, myself included! He was also gracious enough to come over between songs to sign ticket stubs, CD covers, and whatever else could be handed up quickly . It was at one of these oppor
tunities that I handed him my Fan Club membership card so that he'd know a "true fan" was in the audience. He looked at it and smiled before handing it back to me. I was so thrilled knowing that he'd gotten to see it! People in this audience seemed especially receptive to Keith's playing, he (specifically) was being applauded after his solos, and there was a large contingent in my area that kept screaming "way to go, Keith!" throughout the night. As the
concert continued and more and more people began to realise that Keith was signing stuff, they began crowding "his" end of the stage and every time he would approach us, the crowd went INSANE, climbing the metal barricades and lunging for him. Near the end of the show (before the first encore) after the guys had bowed to the crowd and called out "goodnight", Keith and Bryan began walking along the edge of the stage, picking up ticket stubs, CD covers, dollar bills and pieces of paper from the crowd's outstretchedhands to sign them. Soon, concert shirts were flying in from every direction; they were signed and thrown back in the appropriate direction they had come from, much to the audiences delight! The lights went down and, in a few minutes, the guys came back for a three-song encore, followed by another frenzied autograph session at the edge of the stage. I managed to have Keith autograph my ticket stub, although I had stiff competition in trying to hand it up to him, at least seven other people were shoving things in front of my face in a desperate attempt to have Keith pick their items up first. He picked up my ticket stub and signed it and, when he went to hand it back down to me, three other hands appeared out of nowhere to try and grab it. Of course, Keith was a gentleman and made sure I was the one who got it back (thanks, Keith).
After the show, I met up with Sarah and the rest of our group and we headed out along the side of the club back to where the tour bus had been parked. I was keeping every finger crossed that I would be able to meet Keith for just a moment to tell him what a terrific show it had been, and how it had been well worth the rough time I had getting there! The white van that had been there previously showed up suddenly and Bryan and Mickey hopped inside but I didn't see Keith get in. A huge crowd immediately formed around the van, and a security guard tried in vain the keep people out of the way of it so it could leave. I heard him
mention that it had to move so another van could also go. When the crowd dispersed and Bryan's van left (I never saw the second van), Sarah told me that she had to take three of our group back to the hotel. I told her that I hadn't seen Keith leave and wanted to wait for him, so I'd just grab a cab back to the hotel. She agreed to come back for me (which would have been about a half an hour from now) and left for her car. I decided to wait over by the tour bus, which had more of the metal barricades set up between the front of it and the backstage door of the club. After about twenty minutes of waiting, the people with "after show" passes had come out of the backstage door and been met by their friends before leaving, so most of the crowd had thinned. I was just beginning to think that Keith must have been in the second van behind Bryan after all when I saw the backstage door open. I looked over and there he was...I called him as quietly as I could and he stopped for a minute to talk to me and sign the back of the jacket I was wearing (Ceri, I made sure I told him that you said "hi")! At this point a lot of other people had noticed him and had come over to
have things autographed and their photos taken with him, so I backed off to let them have their turn. One girl asked if she could borrow the marker I'd brought to have him sign her CD cover, so in exchange I asked if she'd take a picture of me with Keith, if he was willing and had time for it. She agreed and he was (of course) kind enough to pose with me.
Not long after that he made his way back to the tour bus and hopped on it, which ended perhaps the most exciting night of my life!
The concert was incredible from beginning to end, and it was made even more special by the fact that Keith went out of his way to accomodate a fan with a few minutes of his time after the show.
It was truly a night to remember, and I can't wait to do it all over again! Keith, I just want to say thanks for being so friendly to a long-time fan; it's an honour to have met you! And Ceri, your encouraging e-mails were a welcome break from trying to remember flight schedules, hotel numbers and the million other things I was worried about!