December 12, 2018. Xcel Energy Center, St Paul, Minnesota.

 May 17, 1980. Met Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

I got a text in mid-July of 2018 from Pat, my friend since high school.

Can I buy you Bob Seger Tickets for your birthday this year? He’s in town 12/12/2018. If you’ll come, I’ll get some.

 It turns out, he’d heard a Seger song on the radio and it made him instantly nostalgic. After a little Googling, he found that the ageing rocker was touring. We’d seen Bob Seger together in 1980, so Pat thought it would be fun to recreate the experience 38 years later.

 I thought it sounded like a cool idea. While I was keen on the idea of reliving the Seger story with Pat, unequivocally my best friend in high school, the show was still three hundred miles from home in Wisconsin and was happening during a busy time of year before the holidays. I told him I’d have to talk to my wife. She said that I should go. “It would be a good opportunity to see your friend, and it fits with our see-the-old-rockers-before-they-die mantra.”

It was shortly after this conversation that I got another text from Pat.

Well, I had to pull the trigger as tickets were available but few left together. Got us some nose bleeds (just like the old days) but they are together. Only $254 (not like the old days) Hah!

This sealed the deal for me. I mentioned that I’d never gotten to hear, my favorite tune, Turn The Page in 1980, so this was my chance. I love the story the song tells about a rock band being on the road. It was an anthem Pat and I listened to it repeatedly as we took road trips of our own back in the day. Those trips were part of a simpler time for both of us, before careers and marriage, before moves and kids and mortgages. We knew we were on the edge of big changes that would likely pull us in different directions, so we leaned hard into our friendship with nothing but uncertainty and promise in front of us. Music and concerts helped forge us together.

***

Once we got to the arena, we wove our way through the silver-haired crowd towards the upper level seats in inside the Xcel Energy Center. Pat laughed and in a hushed voice said: “I just can’t get over all the old people here.”

“Yep, it’s kinda eye opening, isn’t it? And you know what? We might be a couple of them,” I replied.

He laughed in agreement. It was a shocking difference from 1980 when the arena was filled with beautiful young people with their whole lives still in front of them. This crowd had been around the block a few times and was out to show that they were still hip enough to go to a rock concert on a weeknight. All that was missing was the wafting smell of weed and the impatient girls using the men’s room.

Pat led the way to our seats high above the floor and distant from the stage. It was still hard to fathom that the seats cost $128 each (with booking fees), especially knowing what we’d paid in our youth. Earlier when we parked, Pat pointed out that our $30 parking spot cost more than both our tickets and parking combined in 1980.

Tickets to Bob Seger, 38 years apart.

At 8.20pm, the crowd rose to its feet as Seger and the Silver Bullet Band took the stage. Neither Pat nor I recognised the opening song, but it didn’t matter. Pulled in by the music and the band we watched as Bob, pranced and postured across the stage. He was old, as evidenced by his full head of grey hair, but he still had great energy, charisma and showmanship.

As he and the band churned through the hits, I was swept back to the days of my youth. The memories and words came back to me as he sang Still The Same, Mainstreet and We’ve Got Tonight. I figured if he was going to sing Turn the Page, it would probably come at the end or as an encore, as it was a longtime crowd favorite. I was willing to wait. I’d already waited 38 years, so what was a few minutes more?

It wasn’t until an hour and a half into his set that the opening saxophone notes of  Turn The Page rang out. The crowd roared for a moment and then went quiet as we listened to the soulful lyrics. The timing and significance of it provided me with a little closure from that disappointment of 38 years prior.

This tour was called The Final Tour, so the whole concert was a sort of chapter closing for both him and us, as fans. For Pat and I, 38 years ago we’d started a great story together as friends, and here we were turning another page in it. The song served as the pinnacle of an amazing two and a half hour concert for me, as well as a walk down memory lane with a really good friend.

Stereo Story #528

See also: Take It Easy by Lucia Nardo

 

Jim has two non-fiction books, Dirty Shirt: A Boundary Waters Memoir and The Portland House: A '70s Memoir. Jim also has five poetry collections, Thoughts from a Line at the DMV, Genetically Speaking, Reciting from Memory, Written Life, and On a Road. His non-fiction stories have been published in Main Street Rag, The Sun, Story News, and others. His poetry has been featured in Rosebud Magazine, Portage Magazine, Blue Heron Review, and many others. Jim was the 2018-2019 poet laureate for the Village of Wales, Wisconsin.