The only album we own with Tom Petty is Traveling Wilburys, so he wasn’t really our reason for going to Seattle. That would be The Lumineers. We had purchased tickets for the concert and lodging in downtown Seattle way back in February sometime. Our intention was to take a couple days driving/camping up and the same coming back. We hadn’t even thought about the eclipse, so when it came time to make some reservations at campgrounds, there wasn’t anything available. Oops. Adding to that, the fact that Everybody and his brother will be swarming to the eclipse path which runs right through Salem, Oregon. Damn.
Too much money later, we printed out our boarding passes for our flight up to Seattle. And back. Double damn. Throw in a couple of taxi rides to and from the airport and $12.50 for a beer in Safeco Field and you end up with a very expensive concert. (Although to put that in context, the trip down to Telluride, Colorado for The Ride Festival and Albuquerque to see Tedeschi Trucks was nuts to start with, but, at least, we did have another reason to go down to Albuquerque: to see Peggy’s mother.)
So we hopped on a little airliner at zero dark thirty hours and flew to Seattle. Only to be stranded by the taxi company we had hired to take us downtown. Stita Taxi to the rescue. They had a cab there in ten minutes and downtown in twenty-five minutes. Same thing the next morning for a ride at 0600 back to SeaTac.
Seattle is like all other big cities: dirty, noisy, and way too many people for our taste. But, it’s still a fun place to visit. Having lots of time before the concert, we walked up to Elysian’s on 14th and Pike – not a bad work out for it’s about 1.5 miles uphill the whole way. They were closed until noon, so we walked on further to see the place we lived in 1999/2000 when Peggy was an adjunct professor of military science at Seattle University. By the time we got back to Elysian’s, we were more than ready for a beer! We asked the “Music Director”, sometimes called a bartender, to put on some Beck and he enthusiastically did (he must like him as much as we do). We split a 1/2 pounder burger (yummy!), chatted up our server, drank wonderful beer and listened to Beck. What more could you ask for?
We went back to the “motel” for a nap to get us through a long night ahead. The place we stayed, the Kings Inn, makes Motel 6 look like Trump Towers. For almost $200/night at the cheapest motel in downtown, you get: a place that hasn’t ever been remodeled; is held together with bubble gum, baling wire, and duct tape; has the dinkiest television ever invented (placed as far away from you as possible); a bed with more lumps than oatmeal; and a room so small that even bugs would be crowded (although we never found any of those at least). At least the fan on the air conditioner was within tolerance for service as white noise since there was no way to control the temperature, already set to cave mode at a cool 60 degrees. At 1800 we hailed a Lyft taxi (good driver, clean car, and prompt) and got dropped off across from the Safeco.
Safeco is a great baseball field, but, like any enclosed area, for a music event, it has it’s limits. One of those limits makes it difficult to hear: reverberation. When an instrument is played and the far wall is solid and reflective, you get reverberation – you hear the instrument again a fraction of a second later. It’s so bad at the Jackson County Oregon fairgrounds that David Crosby of CSNY apologized for “two” bands playing at the same time, questioned what idiot builds a music venue with a reflective wall, 300 feet from a freeway? and said they would never play there again. That’s what it’s like in Safeco. This will be our last concert in a venue not designed for music; like baseball stadiums. We enjoyed the 150,000 Germans at the Pink Floyd concert in 1994, but that’s a once in a life time event held at a formula race track. The Ride this month was fun at between 10 to 12 thousand or so in a large park. Not sure how many were at Sasquatch at The Gorge in 2009, but that was way too much fun if you camped there as well, which we did. But we see why this was Tom Petty’s last large concert; he’s going to use smaller venues. And we learned not to go to certain places.
We got our $12.50 beers, found our seats, then wandered around chatting with fellow concert goers. The Lumineers took the stage and the Big Question was answered immediately. Everyone on the field stood up and the dancing began. The Lumineers, obviously, have a pretty good following and, as we said, they were the primary reason we were there. The show was great! It was fun seeing them perform live. No fancy lighting since it was still light while they were on the stage, but we didn’t go to see a light show. After a decent set, the equipment was changed and the wait for Tom Petty began.
When Petty took the stage, the sell out crowd went nuts. And, although the reverb smothered some of it, you could tell the audience was singing along with him. Shades of the Division Bell concert in Germany. Since he’s been around some 40 years, there were a lot of older folks there and probably dominated the age groupings. He played a mixture of old and new stuff and had the crowd going; all the way up until the sound system died.
Yes, the sound system died. Just as he was starting a song. But the funny thing is: the band didn’t know it and just kept playing. Why they weren’t told the sound system died is weird. They played the entire song like silent puppet’s on the stage – except for the bass drum. After they finished and the audience started trying to tell them things weren’t working, they figured it out. Petty finally got a mike that worked and said they were going to stop the concert for some 20 minutes while they fixed the issue. Really? Now, we know as well as the next person, that anything can happen, but when you’re at this level, those things don’t happen DURING the concert.
Petty had a pretty good light show, but considering everything, we felt Beck’s was much better that Petty’s. Anyway, it was 2220, Petty was not the reason we came, and we’d had a full day, so we left and walked back to the motel (another uphill hike of 1.9 miles).
The next morning, Stita Taxi (again) was on time and got us to the airport on time – not hard on a Sunday morning. The flight home was sad. From the air we could see the many forest fires burning in Oregon and Washington. There were several in the Roseburg area, contributing to the smoke in the Rogue Valley where we live. Mother Nature can be cruel to us sometimes, but it’s maddening when it caused by human activity.
The final expense came when we had to pay $20 to park for less than two days. Wow. It’s good to be home and close the wallet.
Oh, and we learned that we don’t have a good camera for taking concert photos.
Footnote: This was one of the last performances before his death on October the 2nd of this year.