John White: Heading to Edmonton to see a country legend

John on stage with the Lovehammers in Chicago accepting first prize, a signed guitar, from the band. - Submitted
John on stage with the Lovehammers in Chicago accepting first prize, a signed guitar, from the band.
— image credit: Submitted

I’ll be heading back to Edmonton for one of nine Garth Brooks concerts in that city next weekend.

My wife and I were lucky enough to score a pair of tickets to the sold-out show during the stunning run of concerts scheduled by the country legend. I’ve had this on my bucket list since the ’90s, so I’m eager to see the live icon in person.

We’ve long been avid concertgoers, going back 25 years or so.

Some of our most memorable shows?

• The Who in Boston days after founding bassist John Entwhistle died. Emotionally searing show with lots of anger and energy from Pete.

• The Bay’s 325 anniversary party at Big Sky in 1992, featuring a who’s who of Canadian music at the time. Bryan Adams at his peak, The Rankin Family at their best, Celine Dion, Burton Cummings earning a standing ovation, Anne Murray, Jann Arden, Sarah McLachlan, Blue Rodeo… an amazing three days of Canadian talent.

• Joe Jackson on his Night Music tour in 1996… a transcendent push into the subconcious with dreamy themes and performance.

• The Lovehammers (featuring Marty Casey of Rockstar INXS fame) in Chicago for their annual Hammerfest show. I won the draw for a signed guitar and got on stage with the band to accept. Had to explain that to customs when returning to Canada.

• Rush’s return to Winnipeg after a long absence. Note perfect, and much air-drumming in the crowd.

• Loreena McKennitt’s mesmerizing show in Winnipeg, with the tightest band I’ve ever heard, and the best sound mix in a live setting I’ve witnessed.

• Adele last year in Vancouver. Best. Show. Ever. Staging, humour, vocal perfection, and top-level sound mix for an arena. Wow.

• Journey with Arnel Pineda as lead vocalist in Portland last summer with the original lineup from the band’s heyday in the late ’70s and early ’80s.

Speaking of Journey… they were my favourite band growing up, and Steve Perry remains my favourite pop-rock vocalist of all time. I never did get to see Perry live, a major concert regret. However, once I heard Journey was up for fan voting in the annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction, I was keeping a close eye on the RRHOF website.

Sure enough, they topped the vote and were formally announced as one of this year’s honourees. I signed up for a membership to be added to their presale notification mailing list, and managed to secure two seats to the induction concert/ceremony set for Brooklyn in April.

So, if Steve Perry does the unthinkable and comes out of retirement for one night to sing with his former bandmates, we will be there, as faithful fans.

Hey, you can never stop believin’.

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