My first rock concert experience was in 1986--it was A-Ha. I was a sophomore in high school and my friend, Nikki, had free tickets. Score. The “Hunting High and Low” tour. Essentially, they were two-hit wonders: Take On Me and The Sun Always Shines on TV. They were MTV gods and Tiger Beat centerfold studs, those boys from Norway. You just thought to yourself, “So, that’s who sang those songs. A-ha!”. Yes, you did.
Interestingly enough, it was country artists that fueled my concert-going adventures in college. Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, and John Michael Montgomery. Garth did swing out over the audience, likely causing his insurance company to have a seizure and the audience directly below him to get their affairs in order (he was “adorably chubby” in those days). And, Reba puts on an amazing show. Complex sets, dynamic lighting, and more costume changes than a high-school darling getting ready for her first date.
I can’t recall what prompted my interest in Darius. Yes, we’re on a first-name basis. I get e-mails from him and I’ve invested in two concerts, six CDs, a Wagon Wheel t-shirt, and logged several hundred miles in my Honda to see him. That puts us on a first-name basis.
Hootie and the Blowfish was one of those bands of which you knew the songs, you sang along, and possibly turned up the volume when Let Her Cry came on the radio. Something about his crossover to country--or as he might say--his return to his roots, fueled my “interest”. Maybe it’s the fact that his voice is like cuddling up in your favorite blanket on a frosty winter's night.
“Thank God for all I missed, it led me here to this”. That rings so very true with us, doesn’t it? His songs tell stories (Live and Learn), remind you of what’s important (Alright), and might even evoke a happy-tears grin (It Won’t Be Like This for Long).
When I learned that Darius 2012 was coming to town, or would be in the drivable vicinity, it was a no-brainer. Granted, it had been almost two decades since I bought concert tickets; so, to say that I experienced a bit of sticker shock for those lawn seats would be no understatement. But, to say that it was worth it, completely worth it, would also be no understatement. Two of my fabulous sister-chicks and I made an evening of it. It was Darius and Lady Antebellum--yes, it was. I think Thompson Square opened for them. My apologies to the openers--it’s hard to be y’all. I may or may not have found my own little space to dance, sing, and get up on my tippy-toes to take fuzzy pictures with my camera. My taller companions teased me about that. Just a bit.
He did all of my favorites. Thank you, Darius. And then, the encore. Darius and Lady A performed a rendition of Purple Rain that would have made the artist formerly known as Prince proud. Unforgettable.
It will come as no surprise that when his 2014 Wagon Wheel tour was coming to a city near me, I vowed I would be there. My “sister-from-another-mother” was my partner-in-bliss. Lawn seats. Again, he did all of our favorites. Again, he was better than the studio versions. He’s the real deal. We sang along to every last tune. And, there is something else that I deeply appreciate about Darius. He never takes his fans for granted. He sincerely thanked the audience, especially those of us in the lawn seats, for spending our hard-earned money to come and hear him sing. He did that in 2012, too. Gracious. Humble. I like that.
There is only one other artist-singer whom I have seen twice in concert--Richard Marx. Mr. “Should Have Known Better” and “Hold On To The Nights”. The first time was in 1988 at a local waterpark for $5 and a Pepsi can. Seriously. Two years later, having purchased tickets as a Valentine’s Day gift for a “special friend”, I pretended to hold up a lighter and sway to “Right Here Waiting for You”. Sadly, he had to beg off, last-minute, and my College bestie came along instead. Honestly, it was one of those “thank God for all I missed” moments.