When I was 9 or 10 I went to my first concert. It was Neil Diamond. I went with my mom and grandma and sister. And I have to admit it was quite the show for the early 80’s. There was a spectactular light show and the stage was round and he walked and danced all around it. Just to date myself because I’m always amazed at how old 36 sometimes feels, I went to see my first concert at Market Square Arena. Now prior to going to my first concert I only new a handful of Neil Diamond songs like “Comin’ to America” and “Hello again.” These songs I only knew because I had seen The Jazz Singer at the movies with my mom. Mostly what I remember from my first concert is standing up and dancing to “Sweet Caroline”(learning that you’re supposed to sing the bomp bomp baaahh after he sings Sweet Caroline) and my giddy schoolgirl of a mom screaming and yelling like she was 16. Oh yeah, and the sequined silk shirts – he changed into about 6 different colored sequined silk shirts.
Teagan just went to her first concert tonight. Wow what a difference 20 years makes. First of all let me point out that she is only 5. Secondly let me point out that she went to go see her favorite singer, not her mom’s. And the light show that old Neil had 20 years ago looks like a high school band contest compared to the multi screen High-Def grafics and live video feed, indoor fireworks, and confetti falling from the sky event I just attended. The opening act, The Jonas Brothers, were all over the stage while playing various guitars and keyboards. Two of them did flips off of the ramps going up to the 2nd level of the stage – while singing. And the 3rd slid all the way down one of the ramps – while playing guitar. They didn’t have silk shirts or anything, and didn’t change clothes either, but the queen of wardrobe changes was yet to come. After a brief intermission, Hannah Montana appeared. She definately puts old Neil under the table in the bedazzler department. She changed or modified her outfit 4 times during her show and each one was way more glittery than the last. This was Teagans favorite part of the show. She danced and screamed and sang the lyrics to all the songs. Odd how she can’t memorize her birthday or address, but can sing every last word to “Nobody’s Perfect,” “Pumpin’ up the Party,” and “Best of Both Worlds.” If all this wasn’t enought, Hannah then turned into her alter ego (or vice versa) of Miley Cyrus. I really think Miley’s show outshined Hannah’s, but since they are all the same person I’m not sure if that’s possible. Miley changed her outfits another 3 or 4 times and she even did the encore in different clothes than she did the concert in. Did I mention the dancers? Hannah and Miley both had 10 dancers with them at all times. And two back up singers who would sing and fill in the space while she changed clothes. Neil had a back up singer, he had to so he could sing “You don’t bring me flowers.” — but no dancers. Needless to say it was quite a huge production. And this is her first concert. It will be a hard act to follow.
Of course I’m truly comparing apples to oranges here. Had my mom been an Elvis fanatic it’s highly likely my first concert would have been a rhinestone studded white polyester jumpsuit affair. My point? When I was a child they didn’t have bands geared specifically towards kids. My kids still can’t comprehend that when I was growing up there wasn’t a Disney channel or Nickelodeon. And that cartoons were only on TV for about 1 hour in the afternoon and on Saturday mornings. I was 10 years old in 1981 and the most popular songs were from Oliva Newton John, Blondie and Hall and Oats. Not really kid-friendly concerts. I suppose if The Muppets would have had a live concert back then my mom would have taken me. But there was no such idea as rock bands geared towards kids or for that matter bands or singers who were just teenagers.
So while our first concert experiences are very different, I’m glad Teagan was able to see Hannah live. It was wonderful to experience 18,345 screaming 5-12 year old little girls – it’s the really high pitched screaming. Now I got into the concert along with some of the other moms, but not quite as much as the two moms who were a few rows in front of us. One had on a Hannah blonde wig and the other had on a pink Lily wig. I suppose I could have worn a matching tempory Hannah Montana tatoo on my cheek – but I didn’t.
I hope that this made a lasting impression for Teagan. My first concert did. I haven’t been to a whole lot of concerts in my life but Neil’s show certainly ranks up there. I’d say he’s #2 – Garth Brooks is still the best concert I’ve ever seen. I’d really like to see Rascal Flatts and Kenny Chesney – they may make a difference in Neil ranking #2. And if I could ever get tickets to Jimmy Buffet I’m sure Neil would slide to #3. Lucky for me I married a man who knows Neil’s most popular songs. He got on a kick a few years back with “Forever in Blue Jeans” which led to buying “Neil Diamond’s Greatest Hits” a 2 disc set. Now even Dawson knows all of the words to “Forever In Blue Jeans,” “Sweet Caroline,” and “Cracklin’ Rosie.” And Dave may never admit to this but after a long 8 hour trek to Bristol 2 years ago, as we sat in bumper to bumper RV traffic on 394, we cranked up “Sweet Caroline” and sang it at the top of our lungs. Face it……… “Sweet Caroline” is one of those songs that you have to sing along with no matter where you are or who you are with. (side note: Neil revealed earlier this year that his inspiration for the 1969 #1 single was none other than Caroline Kennedy – he saw a picture of her and thought she looked sweet.)
Good luck Hannah/Miley…….. maybe in 20 years people will still be singing “Nobody’s Perfect.” It is hard to live up to the “Sweet Caroline” legacy – not many songs can claim not only to be a #1 single but also a pop culture phenomenon with countless appearances in movies and a signature song at a major league ball park (Fenway – for those not up on your Red Sox trivia).