I've never been a big concertgoer — not many good shows come within easy reach of me here in the relative boonies — but I've managed to see a few interesting ones. In September, though, I will add what for me is the ultimate live performance to the list: The Pet Shop Boys Pandemonium tour at the Chastain Park Amphitheater in Atlanta.
Like me, the PSBs aren't getting any younger, and these opportunities won't come around forever. I've wistfully watched their U.S. tour dates come and go since Nightlife, thinking each time that I ought to go, but never acting on it. So, come Sept. 12, I and the two friends I have who wouldn't give me a strange look for going to a PSB concert — who implicitly understand why I need to have this experience — will make the five-plus hours drive to the big city.
The previous shows I've seen are a wildly mixed bag:
• Tori Amos at The Orpheum in Memphis in 1998.
This was around the time the excellent From the Choirgirl Hotel, with the stomping "Raspberry Swirl," was released, and I remember that song being the highlight of the show. Tori has lost me in recent years; the magnificent To Venus and Back is her last disc that gets any spins in my playlist.
• Amy Grant in Tupelo.
Don't remember the year, but I went with the parents because they had a spare ticket. I was a casual fan of her pop hits, particularly "I Will Remember You." She should've made an electronic album.
• The Eagles in Tupelo.
Don't remember the year, but it was early 2000s. Thought my ears were going to bleed before it was over. The highlight for me was the performance of Don Henley's synthy solo hit "Sunset Grill" — always loved that one.
• Elton John at Tupelo.
This was a great experience, shared with my mother and a friend who has since drifted out of my life. Elton gave 200 percent for several hours, and the real treat for me was that he opened with one of my favorites, "Simple Life," a minor hit from The One. Wouldn't have bet on that in a million years.
Now, more than 20 years after my fandom began, the PSBs will join this list. It's costing me an obscene amount of money (yes, three "VIP" seats), and my mind is filled with all the things that could go wrong: What if it rains? With my luck, a hurricane will come ashore and sit over Atlanta. What if there's car trouble on the long drive? Can't just take a taxi to Atlanta. What if a seven-foot-tall drag queen sits in front of me? What if the sound quality is hideous? The possibilities seem endless.
But some experiences in life are worth throwing caution to the wind. With Very and all the others in my heart, I'll make the journey and hope to be rewarded with a red-letter day.