I’m not sure this is the single craziest thing I’ve done to see a performer. There was, of course, the famous SQUEEEEEE Odyssey of 2009, which involved flying to the UK, freezing my arse off in Birmingham, seeing John Barrowman in Panto twice in two days, taking a train to London and seeing Burn Gorman in “Oliver.” In retrospect, that was total madness. However, it was a group venture, where a whole slew of us were caught up in the height of Barrowmania and Torchwood obsession, egging each other on.
My Bryan Ferry obsession tends to be a more solitary pursuit, with perhaps one compadre at a time. My friend Tommy and I used to dance to the 8 inch remix version of Slave to Love in Tommy’s basement and dream of the glamourous, elusive, Byronic Bryan together. My co-worker Pamela, got me a ticket to the Roxy Music reunion concert in 2000. I still wish I could remember who I saw Bryan with at the Warfield on what I THINK was the Frantic tour. I thought it was my friend Peggy, but she says otherwise.
There are almost NO other performers I can imagine doing something like this for. MAYBE, if Sir Cliff Richard or Robbie Williams came to our shores, I’d do whatever it took, but both of these seem increasingly unlikely, given the magnitude of their respective shows and the fact that as Robbie put it, they sell “fuck all” in the states.
I am grateful that Bryan has toured here consistently and I’ve seen him several times, although not always great seats or a particularly interested companion. Hubby is a lovely person in many ways, but he just does not get Bryan. I don’t think it’s active dislike, but nothing tends to grab him. I can use the more mellow stuff as romantic background music, because that’s what Avalon is MADE for, but he’s not at all taken with “Classic” Roxy or any of Bryan’s stuff to actively listen to for its own sake. He went to the Greek in Berkeley (Bete Noir), Concord Pavillion (Roxy reunion) and Fox in Oakland (Olympia) and while he’s always polite, I know he’s not genuinely enthused, and at these prices and my age, I’m past sharing a concert with someone who’s not as Squeeful as I am.
I also saw him at a venue in Berkeley (Mamouna) whose name I don’t remember, but which honestly felt like a high school auditorium with some guy I barely remember and have no idea how we even met, but at least he was into it. The Warfield (Taxi, I think) with my forgotten female friend, and again at the Fox in 2014. That was the year I said, “SCREW IT!” I went alone and bought the most expensive ticket I thought I could afford and had, as Bryan would say, “a really good time.”
Last year, just around this time, Bryan played the Masonic theater, right here in the City. That was also the week we were flying to Ireland for the Fleadh Cheoil and there was no way I could budget the time or the money.
However, if I had gone to that show, I might not have been so compulsive about seeing this one. If 2016 hadn’t been such a horrific year of musical demises, Bryan’s age of 71 wouldn’t have loomed so large. And maybe if I wasn’t such a crazy person, I wouldn’t have acted like a crazy person.
The great antecedent to this story is the 1983 event, where I went out in the pouring rain and hit a guard rail on Route 46 in Totawa, NJ because I HAD TO HAVE, repeat, HAD TO HAVE, the VHS cassette of The High Road.
Thirty Four years later, I HAD TO SEE BRYAN FERRY! At first they only announced the international tour dates and I was upset. Then the US ones got announced, but the West Coast wasn’t on the list. Then came West Coast, but not Bay Area. I started singing all the songs on all the Bryan Ferry solo albums that I had as Karaoke discs or where the original version was available. This was my way of getting the Universe to give me a local date. And it worked…kind of.
On April 5, they announced that Bryan was playing the Mountain Winery in Saratoga on August 21.
For those of you who don’t know, I don’t drive. I haven’t been behind the wheel of a car in 30 years. (Given the guard rail incident and others, this is probably a good thing.)
Saratoga is approximately 50 miles from San Francisco. There’s no public transportation directly between the two and once in Saratoga itself the Mountain Winery, is well….on a Mountain. It also happens to be the old Paul Masson winery. As in “We will sell no wine before it’s time.”
So clearly, this was NOT going to be like hopping on BART and taking a short walk.
I woke up the morning of April 6th and got online. Please note I did this before eating, and having worked late the night before, and also that I am a crazy person.
I went to the Mountain Winery website and in hitting “buy tickets,” got transferred to TicketConnector Sales.com. I KNOW. I should have just tried again to go through the venue itself, or waited until they were open and called, or at least tried Ticketmaster or SOMETHING. The story in my head was that TicketConnector had ALL the good seats and if I didn’t buy from them IMMEDIATELY I wouldn’t get the good seats I wanted. There’s no nice way to put this. I acted compulsively, impulsively, and out of fear. I used a credit card and bought two tickets for a show I had absolutely no way of getting to and no one to go with for an obscene amount of money.
Allow me to quote Pretty Woman here:
Hollister: Exactly how obscene an amount of money were you talking about? Just… profane, or really offensive?
Edward: Really offensive.
Seriously. Way too much money, and I know because when I actually printed out the tickets, I saw the face value. I got taken, hustled, rooked. This is what happens when I act out of fear.
Plus this was also my character defect of sneakiness and dishonesty because I never told Hubby exactly how obscene. In fact I didn’t even tell him, until he told me about a large purchase he had made, so I felt somewhat justified, but still haven’t told him the exact amount.
So now I had tickets…and no idea how I was going to get there or who I was going with. The next story in my head was about my selling the tickets on Craigslist and including the ride as part of the price. Not only did this not happen, but I came terrifyingly close to falling for an internet scam along the way.
Then I started wearing my Mamouna t-shirt and waiting for people say, “Oh Bryan Ferry! I love him.” At which point I would make my proposition. You drive me and buy my ticket, which quickly devolved to “You drive me and I’ll give you the ticket.” I figured it would still be worth it for a ride and a good concert companion.
This went on for MONTHS and I was kind of devastated to really and truly learn that the world did not share my Bryan obsession, that many people had no idea who he is, and that those who do have their own lives and priorities and even if they were sort of interested could not confirm. I think being in FB Groups with fellow Ferry fans, most of whom are in the UK and Europe gave me a rather false impression of how many people I’d run into who were dying to see the show as much I was.
Nearly five consecutive months of anxiety and obsession about this thing. I prayed a lot to Shiva and others to just take the obsession away and let me believe the Universe would give me what I needed, as it usually does. I just couldn’t let it go. I was really getting pissed and freaked out and upset and shit load of other unpleasant things. I was also slightly paranoid that the tickets themselves would turn out to be bogus and we’d get there and they’d try to scan and alarms would start going off.
I had a few people who were like…well if nobody else wants it….or I want to go, but I just can’t confirm….and a former co-worker who wasn’t sure if she’d be able to go with me or if she was going to Poland. One guy wanted me to pay for his dog-sitter. Which I was willing to do, but he just wasn't an appealing character.
I kept telling myself this was the Universe teaching me a lesson and I needed to just let it go. But the Bryan song that most sums up my life is “Can’t Let Go.”
I’m not sure how or why I thought of my friend Bob, who has been one of my Mint buddies, going back ages, aside from being Facebook frends and maybe being desperate. I reached out to him on June 28 and he was immediately interested and actually confirmed within a week.
That was still nearly two months to obsess, but at least I had a ride…from Menlo Park anyway. Which one can get to on Caltrain.
Relief, but I was still worried about the validity of the tickets, as well as the potential of a last minute flake-out. I’m sorry, Californians are flakey. I know this because I’m a bit of a flake myself. I mean I get that people have lives…but your fucking life is NOT more important that my ability to see Bryan Ferry.
The last little glitch was me checking the schedule for Caltrain and discovering that the last one left Menlo Park, which was as far as Bob seemed willing to take me, at 1107PM and I honestly didn’t think we’d get there in time. So I suggested that maybe he could drive me all the way back to SF, since there wouldn’t be traffic and he got very passive-aggressive with me about his work schedule and needing rest and maybe he should just not go and blah blah blah. So I said FINE! Just get me to your place and I’ll get Uber from there. Considering how much I’d already spent, I figured why not.
Oh and then I realized I’d offered to buy dinner at a place of his choosing, and I didn’t know what it was, and when you’re doing strict Paleo, and in recovery from a binge eating disorder that’s a little terrifying.
The show was on a Monday. Saturday I went to the Mint and pretty much sang every Bryan/Roxy song in my karaoke repertoire.
Sunday I had to work 5A-130PM. I came home and got my nails done to improve the likelihood that Bryan would see my sparkly nails and be compelled to sweep me away to his hotel room after the show, or at least the tour bus. Have I mentioned that given half a chance, I’d bang him like a kitchen door. Also that at 52, I’m waaaaayyyyy to old for his interests. Sigh!
Monday-Yoga, Meditation. Nap. Shower, what the hell am I gonna wear. I needed comfort, glamitude and enough layering to deal with an outside venue after dark.
At this point, a major shout out to my higher power.
Everything was fine.
1. I walked to CalTrain in approximately 48 minutes and was on my way to Palo Alto by 258PM. Caltrain, by the way is a very clean and efficient means of travel.
2. Bob picked me up and even got me someplace I could make a “pit stop” before the main drive.
3. Traffic was not bad and the only fuckery we got from Googlemaps was a bizarre detour around the Infinite Loop at the Apple campus.
4. While we were lined up to be allowed into the parking lot, a lovely soul game over and GAVE us a free VIP parking voucher, so we at least got into a good parking space early on.
5. Absolutely gorgeous venue and got to hear the sound check, although security was rather adamant about removing me from the one spot I might be able to see anything. Thanks to Bob pointing him out, I caught a glimpse of Bryan in his blue shirt.
6. Dinner was perfect. We ate at the “Cantina” and I got brisket, sweet potato fries and a fruit salad. I’ll admit the sweet potato fries were a bit carbtastic for my taste, but it’s still within my guidelines and they were yummy. Not triggered and I was back to my regular food plan this morning.
7. Lady’s restroom near at hand and very clean. Lots of stalls.
8. We met a charming woman, who’d purchased the official Roxy Music Umbrella, which has the Country Life girls in all their bodacious glory. Her cunning plan is to leave it in her husband’s car until the time he has need of it and opens it up. Perhaps with a client nearby. Apparently said husband is a bit of a prude.
9. Opening act. Judith Owen Very good. Generally Bryan’s opening acts don’t do much for me. This lady has a lot of panache. Her slowed down version of Hot Stuff was excellent. Plus there was, in fact, legendary bass player, Leland Sklar in all his bearded glory.
10. MY SEATS!!!! Yes, I paid an obscene amount of money, but the tickets were valid and my seats were incredible. I could see Bryan perfectly, although he’s so gorgeous, sometimes it’s hard to look at him. I was also right in front of the back-up singers, Fonzi Thornton and Bobbie Gordon, so I had really good insight into when Fonzi was being used to give a little more heft to the vocal, such as “Like a Hurricane” and when he wasn’t. “Dream Home” was all Bryan. Also, Bobbie did a great job recreating Yannick Etienne’s vocal on Avalon.
11. The set list!
Especially More Than This, which I’ve been waiting to hear live since FOREVER! I don’t care that he needed a little help from Fonzi. That’s my song…the one that started the whole obsession. I also liked that there was a good representation of Boys and Girls and Bete Noir. Sadly nothing from Taxi, Mamouna, Olympia or Avonmore. I don’t know if that represents Bryan’s preference or just the failure of those to produce a hit single in the US. I’d LOVE to hear him sing some of the more recent stuff, but there’s nothing in the list that I didn’t want to hear. I for one LOVE Like a Hurricane and feel it segues so perfectly after “Can’t Let Go,” which is the anthem for me and my compulsive behavior. By the encores the whole crowd was on its feed. I knew Bob was having a good time and most of my Bryan dreams had come true. (I’m especially glad the Dylan song was Simple Twist of Fate and NOT Make You Feel My Love. There’s nothing worse than Dylan being sincere and Bryan’s version is kind of Blah. Plus I’ve heard so many karaoke Adele Wannabes sing it exactly the same way.)
The sequencing was great…From More Than This right into Avalon and the REALLY BIG ones that keep the crowd charging through. I’m also glad that he ended with Editions of You and Do the Strand AFTER Jealous Guy, as opposed to previous tours, including the High Road. Not that I don’t LOVE his version of Jealous Guy, but it’s just not where you want to leave the audience. I think it made a little more sense in 82 and 83, when Lennon’s death and the tribute quality were still raw.
12. Bryan was having fun. When he smiles….OMG!
13. Bryan doesn't talk to us much. Oh well. We know he's shy and perhaps that's part of the mystique. You never get a back-ground story or "then I wrote." Band introductions, a few thanks, one or two audience teasing "Are you still theres?" We can wish to hear more of his talking voice, which I find unbelievable sexy, but OH WELL!
14. Fonzi is awesome and stylish.Thank you for being awesome Fonzi.
15. Jorja Chalmers. In seriously tight jeans and a black leather jacket, playing some scorching sax solos. I’ll bet Bryan’s banging her.
16. Bob drove me all the way home.
Such a great night. Probably my best Bryan/Roxy experience so far. Hopefully I learned some good lessons, but I feel a little odd that I managed to screw up so badly and still get pretty much everything I wanted or at least needed. And I’ll get that credit card bill paid off. Eventually.