Sunday, May 22, 2011

Adele in Montreal (and a Little Life Lesson for Your Hostess)

I had bought tickets to the Montreal Adele show in February at the pre-sale as soon as they were made available to the Adele nerds. However, when the day for the show arrived last week -- a Monday which was really inconvenient for a middle aged woman with two half grown kids and a job to be at on Monday and again on Tuesday morning -- I almost balked. I had also bought a ticket for my friend "Splenda" whom I successfully coerced her into going to the last Adele show in Montreal a couple of years ago and a good time was had by all.

Well, now both of us are just that much older and it was raining and the kids had evening activities and blah blah. I sat in my office that Monday at lunchtime, as the time for my departure approached thinking, Where the hell am I going to park? (Montreal has the most confusing parking signs in the world and I had never been to the venue) and it's such a hassle going over the border these days - the friendly, easy days of back and forth to Canada a distant memory (at least some of the time) maybe I should just bail.

Then I picked myself up and said "that is ass." (As is, stupid, ridiculous old codger thinking). I got my umbrella (the good kind of old codger thinking) and left the building.

The drive up was in its rainy spring way, lovely. The border, a breeze (I think Adele's tour had come through the same point earlier in the day - no questions about my plans to attend her concert). I had memorized a Google map of the location of the theater and I pulled my minivan into the space in front of Adele's tour bus at around 4:30 PM. No problem. I figured out the parking meter - which can be paid with a credit card. (Montreal is forward thinking kind of city. I love that).

I walked around the corner and picked up tickets at will-call. It was three hours 'til the doors would open, but already a small crowd was huddling at the door. The venue was a standing-room-only deal - an old movie theatre where all the floor seats had been removed. This meant that the first ones in would get to stand right up by the stage. Fan that I am, three hours in the rain and wind (it was about 55 degrees) was too much for me.

Splenda called my cell to relate her plans for getting her kids to the places that they had to go and for working her way downtown. Clearly, she was pressed. I told her not to worry about me. I have always wanted to try the uniquely Quebec fast food place, La Belle Province, and there was one next to the theater. I ate a gyro (they love Greek food in Montreal) and a pile of delicious French fries (greasy with the sweetish ketchup favored by French Canadians) and read the weekly arts paper. By the time I had worked my way to the not-so-veiled ads for prostitutes at the back of the paper, I had managed to occupy myself that way til about 6. I thought I would walk around the city a little but as I passed the theater, the line had gotten much longer, snaking around the corner. I had thought that, rain and wind or no, I had better get in it.

Two guys were walking up and down the line trying to buy tickets. They had been going for about $300 a piece on Ebay the week before. No one was selling. Least of all, me. Splenda called and said she was taking her son to his diving class and then her daughter was going to her mother's house. It was rush hour. She would be a while. I asked her to top off my meter when she got downtown. I was in line and not moving. She couldn't believe it. "It's still nearly two hours til they open the doors!" She felt bad. Twenty minutes later she called again and gave me carte blanche to sell her ticket. I told her I really didn't want to do that - I wanted her to come, but I also didn't want to twist her arm. We went back and forth on this for a few minutes - she said she wanted to come but she didn't want to cost me a payday. I stood my ground. She was coming.

Splenda arrived, with parking meter money in hand, about 7 PM. (She told me that if you have the number of your parking space you can top up you meter at any of the pay stations around town). She also said that her next door neighbors who are also two of her favorite people, Marc and Marco, had tickets for the show. She called them and moments later they appeared and joined us in line (which had by then stretched to the southern horizon). M & M were fetching and friendly, so waiting that last half hour or so turned into a bit of a party.

When the doors opened, we were sufficiently near the front of the line (owing to my stakeout) to have our choice of positions in the theater. Marc and Marco I went right to the front of the stage while Splenda bought us a drink at the bar. When I turned to examine the room, however, I saw there was a balcony - with seats! I told Marc I was going to see if I could get a few. (I had already been standing for two hours and it was at least an hour before the show would start). I ran up the stairs and, yes, got seats just behind the rail. Splenda came moments later with a vodka tonic. (Can you see where this is going?) Marc and Marco (who are very fit) decided to stay in the mosh pit.

OK. If there is anything better than sitting with a great friend in a comfortable theater seat and sipping a vodka tonic while you wait for your favorite singer to do a show, let me know.

The opening act came on at 8:30: a boy/girl duo from Alabama called "the Civil Wars." They sang brilliant harmonies and the girl was very Montrealaise in a short black dress and heels. They were playful. The crowd was in a great, appreciative mood and ate them up. It was love.

Then, at last, came Adele. Now that I have pounded you with a blow by blow of the preconcert details, I'll just leave you by way of a review with the comment I left on the Adele website the day after her show and an email exchange between Splenda and I.

The comment:

Dearest Darling Adele - It was my privilege to be part of the crowd last night in Montreal. That word "magic" gets thrown around a lot, but last night was the real thing - a regular alchemical romance, We all loved the Civil Wars (could you tell?). Your band was brilliant and, of course, you looked beautiful and you sang us all up, up, and away! After the show, my friends and I stood out on the sidewalk and tried to process our excitement like the grown ups we are - but more or less failed. We just stood there trying to recover our wits and pinching ourselves. Bless you. Take care of yourself. Thank you (and your mom!).

(NB. Despite my leaving ingratiating suck-up comments like this for A on a couple occasions she has yet to reply. Oh well.)

The email exchange between Splenda and I a Few Days Later:

(From me)

Hi Dear -

I am just back from the Spring Concert at [the Understudy's school] - which I have mentally renamed "Lilly White Middle and High School." I actually like these school concerts because the kids are so putting themselves out there and are generally adorable. I remembered something I read by Margaret Atwood years ago - she had given some kind of graduation speech at a HS in Ontario and she wrote about how all the graduates were beautiful, even the ones who didn't think they were good looking (just by virtue of their youth). Anyway, I am putting this concert down in my book of recent live performances. I have been processing the Adele show since we left. Marc "friended" me the next day and sent me some pictures of A just as I was posting a fawning fan comment on her website (telepathy?) I saw a review from the Toronto show that she did the next night. They had bumped up the venue to some 6,000 seat arena and the reviewer thought (and Adele said) she was nervous. I think we may have gotten her best night....

(From S)

I have been meaning to sit down and compose my ENORMOUS thank you for what may be the best concert of my not so young life! :) and apparently she upgraded to the ACC the next day which has a capacity of 18K ... so depending on the configuration, we had BY FAR the better show! by FAR!

When I got back to the minivan after the show, I saw that Adele had been issued a whopping big ticket. I mean the piece of paper was 8 1/2 by 11! I assume the fine matched (thanks to Splenda I was still in good parking graces). However many hundreds of dollars that ticket must have been, I am sure she would be happy to pay it. She said (and seemed to mean) that we were the best crowd of the tour so far.

So, there you have it. You would think I would have learned by now that any effort that takes me out of my Hobbit-like ways is always repaid. Apparently, I need frequent reminders.