Archive for September 18th, 2013
Last week I went to the Grand Canyon as part of my Year On The Road. This week I’m heading to the mountains for #WaybackWednesday
After leaving the Grand Canyon on a Sunday I drove all over the wild west for the better part of the next week. I went north through Utah and Idaho all the way to Butte, Montana. Then I headed south through Wyoming, made a stop a Yellowstone, and eventually ended up in Colorado. I drove across the state twice in two days, and finally made it to Denver by the weekend. I was a hell of a lot of driving, but that drive was absolutely gorgeous.
By Saturday I was exhausted but determined to go do something fun in Denver. I picked up the local Reader and discovered, as luck might have it, that there was an awesome show at Red Rocks Amphitheater. R.E.M. was headlining a tour with Wilco as the opening band! I had always heard that Red Rocks was an amazing place to see a concert, and now I was getting to see it first hand with two amazing bands! Here’s a view of the stage from September 13, 2003.1
If you’ve never been to Red Rocks, you need to make it out to Denver at least once to see it in person. Describing it does not do it justice. I knew ahead of time that it was an outdoor venue carved into the side of a mountain, but I had no idea how cool the view was from inside. Once the sun set, I could see the whole city of Denver laid out and glowing behind the main stage. And on that particular nite, the moon was hanging low, almost full, and right behind the stage. It was spectacularly beautiful, like this. And that’s to say nothing of the amazing concert that was also going on.
Wilco opened up and put on one hell of a show. Jeff Tweedy was still touring on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and played half the album that nite. Plus he mixed in a couple of my favorites from Summerteeth too. But he really brought down the house by finishing with California Stars. Perfect song for such a beautiful nite.
By the time R.E.M. took the stage I was freezing cold and ready to dance. If you may recall, when I originally left to begin this current trip I was headed to Texas in August. I packed accordingly, which meant that I only had one pair of jeans and a light jacket to keep me warm. The temperature that nite dropped into the low 40s, so I was frigid the entire show. Lucky for me R.E.M. brought the heat that nite.
The tour was booked as an all-request series of shows, in which fans emailed requests into the R.E.M. website and the most requested songs were played. This was a few years before social media, so the idea was extremely novel at the time. Using the power of the internet to communicate with a band was cutting edge, and the resulting show was amazing. But the band saved the best for last. The last song of the set was Man On The Moon, and Michael Stipe sung his heart out with a nearly full moon behind him the whole time. It was astounding, and it wasn’t even the encore!
The actual encore was even more brilliant, highlighted by a gorgeous rendition of Nightswimming. I walked back to my car shivering in utter disbelief at the beauty I had seen. When I returned to my hotel room, I felt like a genius for requesting a Jacuzzi tub at check it. I filled that bad boy up with steaming hot water and soaked away the cold in the tub for hours. Looking back ten years later, I can barely remember the cold. But I clearly remember staring at the moon with my feet on a rock and listening to Man On The Moon. Like so many times in 2003, I was in the right place at the right time. Amazing how things work out some times.
1. I didn’t actually take this picture, so thanks to Brian Meacham and his Flickr account for the visuals.