Saturday, November 9, 2002 @ 6:15 PM
MixFest 2002: Realizing the Dr
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REVIEW BY: Angelique Islip, September, 2002
Months before MixFest, it began…
I heard it on my favorite radio station, "Mix 98.5" (WBMX-Boston), Def Leppard had a new album: "X!" I was listening to the first single release "Now" and searching for the Joe Elliott/Def Leppard sound I knew and loved. Oh, I had to immediately call my sister and exclaim, "Def Leppard has a new album! Did you know? Have you heard Now?" To my horror, she said "no." How awful was this? My little sister and I shared the love for many of the same musicians on varying degrees; but for Def Leppard, we were on the same plain. She surprised me with tickets to my first Def Leppard concert in 1988 while they were on the Hysteria tour. It was momentous for us because it had been the first real sister-thing we'd done together in years after having lived apart for much of our teenage lives. Now, many years later in 2002, we went and bought "X" together while she was visiting. She LOVED it as I knew she would. And, we were listening to a new Def Leppard album together again.
Adding to the excitement, "Mix" announced Def Leppard was going to be at MixFest 2002. So I began to contemplate, "how can I get there since we can't afford the tickets? How close to Joe Elliott can I get?" I called up my Lander-man (John Lander Morning Show) and pleaded on his voice mail for tickets-no response. Finally, one morning, I got through during the show and asked for them: "…I want tickets to MixFest. I have to see Def Leppard. I have been in love with Joe Elliott since I was 12 years old." I'm sure I said some other "gushy" stuff too. I was overjoyed (to say the least) when Lander said, "Wendy, give her tickets to MixFest." That afternoon, I was bursting with so much excitement I had to call Gregg Daniels of the afternoon show to share my over-whelming jubilation. Every time I heard the commercial announcement and Joe's voice, I got the shivers. This began the count down to MixFest and the regular calls to Gregg to share my excitment and the usual exclamation of "I'm going to see Joe Elliot/Def Leppard." After all, someone nearby had to share my joy that could also appreciate it. My sister lives 2000 miles away and most of my co-workers were ready to lynch me because of my daily exclamations of the same while jumping around excitedly.
So, now the question was how close was this going to get me to Joe and the guys? I feared these were balcony tickets (very bad on my vertigo but nothing was going to stop me). So, I called and left voicemails for Lander again begging humiliatingly to be close or maybe even meet him. John and I have talked in the past over a couple of Nutcrackers and the sort. He sends me great stuff now and again. I knew MixFest would be a much bigger deal and harder for him to give. Sadly, there was no response from my Lander-man. Low and behold, chances to win first, second and third row came on the freeloader website. Freeloaders were given the exclusive list of songs to listen for to win 1st through 5th row tickets as well. Filene's was giving away a "Meet and Greet" opportunity. I tried them all to no avail. When I went to Filene's, they didn't even have the right raffle stuff out. I called and emailed the Mix promotion department but also with no response. They must get listeners acting like this constantly over something. Plus, they were all in the midst of getting ready for a HUGE event with multiple artists.
Finally, the day came and my husband and I headed to Boston and the Pre-show with Mix. I was even wearing glitter for the first time in my life. I had accepted that I wasn't going to get close to Joe. The Pre-show was a lot of fun. We enjoyed the band very much, Dunkin Donuts was giving Coolatta samples (that would have been really nice with a shot of rum), got some great light-up balls and necklaces from the Blue-Man Group and Gillette booths and best of all, I saw the Strawberries booth selling CD's that you could purchase then take backstage to have signed by the group. I thought my luck had changed but alas, Def Leppard was not one of the groups signing so I left the CD to buy later for less. It was lucky that I did too because I found them inside complete with autographs. No t-shirts though which was a real bummer. I picked up autographed cd's for my sister and me and returned to better seats in the Loge rather than the ones in the balcony on my tickets.
Now, here we were sitting close enough to the stage and next to the screen that we could see the performers clearly enough. It was a bittersweet agony for those of us waiting to see Def Leppard. Bitter because we had to wait and sweet because the other bands were REALLY GOOD! I totally enjoyed the other groups. I discovered that I liked a couple that I thought I didn't. Guster mirrored my excitement with the claim that the "legendary Def Leppard" was coming up.
Def Leppard came on about 20 minutes late and it was agony. I should mention at this point because it's so funny, there was a row of about 5 women, obviously also there only to see Def Leppard, holding up a flag whenever Joe looked over. It's important to note that at this point my husband asked, "Def Leppard is British or Australian?" I said, "British." And he responded, "then why are those girls holding up an Australian flag?" Now, need I say more?
I was enjoying watching Def Leppard and Joe on the big screen. Joe did come to the edges of the stage and at one point, it seemed he was pointing to me when I was waving (like a lunatic). I was having the time of my life or so I thought. A couple coming up the stairs from the floor stopped and handed us their tickets and said, "We were in the 5th row on the floor if you want our tickets. Enjoy." I was so excited that I took the tickets breathlessly (from all the jumping and screaming) and flew down the steps. I don't even remember saying thank you but my hubby says he did. I said on the way home that I really hoped I had said thank you because it meant so much to me to see Def Leppard up close.
Suddenly, there I was on the floor, in the center, maybe 15 feet from Joe Elliott and the guys. While discovering that Joe was paying more attention to the fans above than right in front of him (as it should be), I was thinking, 'that was okay that he wasn't going to see me because I was finally seeing them.' Really seeing them-not a photograph (pun intended), not a video, not a figure on a far-away stage but each of them up close. I could see every expression on Joe's face clearly. For that matter, I could really see Joe's face.
Joe, always the charming and charismatic performer, did his tricks with the microphone stand and made love to the microphone as he poured his heart into his words. It was incredible to finally really get to see his style, grace and sincerity. Being able to really see him sing those songs that were part of very important moments in my life made them even more special.
There were quite a few other fans that we met who were also waiting for Def Leppard. All of us now are married and have had children. We all have memories of concerts past and Def Leppard's music has played such a big part of so many events in our lives. See Def Leppard again was like seeing members of our family returning for a visit. I explained to my 5 year old the next morning that I got to see my favorite group last night and how I ended up on the floor so close to him that it was like seeing them for the first time. After I compared it to seeing Jimmy Neutron for real, he understood a little.
I still have yet to meet Joe and the guys but my hopes are constant. I read a quote from Joe where he stated that they are very approachable if a fan wants to meet them (as long as the fan is courteous-ah, classy). And as I thought about it, that means the fans who can still wait outside arena doors or are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time can meet them. I feel silly going crazy over a "rock star" at 30-something with kids. I'm sure I will not be standing outside of any arenas but my luck of being in the right place at the right time seems to be changing. I hope that maybe someday I can still chat with them and discuss all their adventures.
I will always be with them in spirit as they have been with me. I'm sure my sister shares my sentiments and is as hopeful as I am that Def Leppard's songs will forever touch other lives in the positive way that they have touched ours and still do today.
Thank you Mix 98.5!