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(click on any pic to see larger version - concert pics here, videos here)
Since being from Germany means being very far away from all the fun ;-) I decided almost instantly after seeing on the Internet that Scarlet Road were going to give one of their rare concerts that I had to go! (ok, ok - after having second thoughts ;-) - like "Are you insane?" or "Have you lost it completely???") After my friend Katharina said she would go no matter what all systems were go!
Our adventure started on Friday, Oct. 27th, in the middle of the night - @ 3:30am we left for Munich Airport. While changing planes in Frankfurt wasn't difficult, Chicago O'Hare proved to be the busiest airport in the world - we missed our plane to Portland! Btw, I should mention that my friend has never been on a plane before...she got the whole deal. Anyway, we had to wait for 3 1/2 hours on this beautiful airport in this beautiful city ... (Lucky me - I had a really cool book: The Wishing Game by Patrick Redmond - and guess what - the two protagonists were called Jonathan and Richard ;-) and their friends Nicholas and Stephen...coincidence?) After about 24 hours of travel time we finally got to our hotel in Portland: the Red Lion Coliseum - beautifully situated at the Willamette River. We fell into our beds and slept until next morning.
On Saturday - THE DAY - we decided to see at least a bit of Portland ;-) so we went downtown. But after about 2 hours Katharina realized that her videocam's batterie urgently needed recharging, so we headed back to our hotel to relax (yeah right, if that was even possible) and then got ready. At 5:15pm we called a cab and got to Benson High School in about 10min. There were already a lot of people decorating and doing stuff. A woman let us in (all doors were still closed) and a few minutes later Michelle stood in front of us - we probably looked a little lost (I guess she wanted to know what the heck we did - in, I mean). But when I saw her name tag I realized that she was the one who I talked with and who had my tickets!!!! She immediately knew who I was and hugged me. [THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH FOR EVERYTHING, MICHELLE!!! I LOVE YOU!!!] And then pointed to a sign on the door (how embarrassing...) well, anyway, I just knew that I suddenly had a camera stuck to my face ;-) - Josh, one of the official "tapers" (and bongo players...) of this event (where did he come from?!?!?) Everyone was shocked when I told them that I really actually only travelled this far to see Jonathan with Scarlet Road. Yeah, I know, I'm crazy.
Michelle told me she had something for me (yeah, the tickets...) and she handed me an envelope with (my heart skipped a beat) two 8x10 personally autographed b&w pictures of Jonathan and Richard! Thank you guys! Ok, I admit it, I was shaking and barely realizing where I was :-) . But that wasn't the end...'cause Michelle asked us if we would like to meet the guys. Excuse me? IF???? So, next thing I know we were walking down the aisles of the auditorium which was really huge (for me as a German anyhow.) We got to the stage and there he was - I will never forget this 'first sighting': he was kneeling onstage to adjust his equipment - and whoa he looked great!!! Baggy blue jeans and a light grey shirt with burgundy sleeves, how nice :-) and his hair looked cool, not too long (though I wouldn't mind) and not too short (gosh I'm happy that it's finally longer again...) But first things first, 'cause Michelle came back with Rick Jackson who immediately knew who I was (this was getting really funny - all this 'they know who I am' - well, I liked it ;-) - very much...), he asked me if he could hug me (of course? why even ask?), so he hugged me and told me that they were all so happy to have me here. Yeah, I was happy, too :-)
I turned and there he was - Josh ;-) and his camera. He started to ask us if it was ok to ask some questions for his tape (oh, ok..) but suddenly someone interrupted him. "Can I do the interview?" JONATHAN! Whoa, he was actually standing in front me!!! I still don't know how I was able to not faint and even answer his questions ;-) [yeah, Michelle, all inside ;-)] First he wanted to know who was who (see, Katharina was still behind me - poor her!), then where we came from and how long the trip was. "Well, I'm Anja, that's Katharina." We shook hands. "We're from Munich, Germany, and it took about 14 hours of actually flying and about 24 hours to get to Portland." And then he completely freaked me out. Because he started to speak GERMAN!!! What? Where did he get that? (Actually he learned from a tape - they all did) But why? (I still don't know) I guess I was so stunned because there was NO trace of an accent - he spoke perfect German. Granted, only 4 sentences, but duh!?! He is a true talent in every way! [Btw, Jonathan, if you read this? It's "Are you..." and not "You are...," sorry, my fault!]
Lucky for me I remembered that I wanted to take a picture so I asked him if it was ok (Katharina thought right then that I had lost my mind - "What else does she want from him?!?!?") Anyway, I have to thank Michelle again for not only taking the picture of all three of us but also for having some technical problems ;-) - Jonathan told her what to do and we had the opportunity to hold him a few seconds longer ;-) [you can see in the picture that we're pretty shaken up - that's gonna change over the evening though...]
Btw, I should mention that Richard in the meantime was helping onstage - breathe! - he had this grey tank top on and you could see all his muscles, working!!! - HOT! [sorry, I'm drooling ;-)] Unfortunately, we 'only' met him afterwards. Michelle took us to our seats and we summed up the evening so far. INCREDIBLY COOL & ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD WORTH IT!
We decided to just keep watching until the concert started - good choice, 'cause I saw this really good looking guy - Will Rotunno! - he was seating people (friends & family, I guess) and seemed pretty busy, so we didn't go up to him...then. Lisa was also there but I didn't talk to her either.
The band started to rehearse then - what a treat!!! Jonathan looked really cool with his wireless mic ;-) which went out right there the first time! They played Rise which is Katharina's absolute favorite song - I love it too but my absolute favorite is God Candy which unfortunately they didn't play that night - we were enjoying every second! The second song was also beautiful, I guess it was improvised 'cause everyone tuned in after one another and they were experimenting with all their different sound effects (and thanked their crew - "The Erics - the best sound guys we ever had".) Btw, the second guitar player, Jay, was their cousin (according to Maxine) - he was totally great! Totally in sync - they all were - as I said a real treat - during the whole concert you could just see how beautiful this family works together, smoothly.
A little after 7pm the lights went out and on a huge screen a video with various testimonies about God started to play. And I got a first glimpse of what was going to come. I knew they were very religious, well I'm not. At least not like this. I almost feel like Tracy but it's different. See, in Germany any emotional religious display is viewed kinda suspiciously. Our masses are boring and totally uninspirational. I have never seen or experienced anything remotely like what I was experiencing now, so this was a personal shock and a culture shock too. On the other hand, how are you gonna study a subject if you can't experience it? [I should probably tell you that my major is American Culture History...] Anyway, I feel I have to say at least a few words about religion in Germany. Contrary to the States, there are only two officially accepted churches - the Catholic and the Protestant (not the British though) Church. All other 'churches' or religious groups are more or less viewed as sects (the negative sort.) Guess you have heard the Scientology problem in Germany...? Ok, so I put together in my head my own version of what I believe and it's definitely not 'I believe every word of the Bible,' I have a friend who tries to convince me otherwise. I also believe that I don't necessarily need a group to believe in God or a God-like figure. Besides, I get the creeps (as I did that day) when I'm in a group - large group - of people that all believe one thing and do all these little things to proof their belief - shouting Amen for example - but it's the same at huge concerts - e.g. BSB or something - when all the girls scream Nick. But hey, as long as I can kind of 'translate' Jonathan's messages into my less religious perspective of life I can live with it. All I need is just to listen to this wonderful voice - actually I could listen to him for days not even caring what he's saying or singing, he could even talk Russian [or German ;-)] - the same goes for his music. Have you ever heard such soulful melodies (from someone this young?) Let me tell you this last thing: For everyone who has ever seen him act, play his music or actually stood in front of him or even talked to him - you can feel his soul (I'm still reeling from that experience.)
Enough said, I just wanted to make sure that everything I say is my personal opinion and that I certainly don't want to offend anyone. Let's get to the more important things in life ;-) - THE CONCERT:
While the screen was lifted up there was this electrical humming sound. Then Jonathan started to play a few chords and his voice-over was saying something about 'my soul is all to my God' - well, just listen and watch. What a way to start! Just beautiful. He had changed his clothes and was now wearing a navy blue shirt with "Here comes the Bride" written on it and tight (well, tighter) black jeans - no matter what he does or wears he just looks incredibly good [hot]!!! The next song was Raise Your Voice. Totally haunting and mesmerizing, I was awestruck and at the same time I felt a little bit uncomfortable, but his voice was sooooo incredible. I have never heard something as beautiful before - well as it turned out I could actually say that for every song they played that night. Btw, for a list of the songs check out Tracy's page, she has them all listed - even in the right order - I'm impressed! So I'm just going to comment on some of the songs. Besides, the part where we talk to the guys is probably more interesting than something you have already read somewhere else, right?
After the next song - Ever Present - his wireless mic went out and while he got a new one (his Dad's) I could see he mouthed a very cute "But I want to sing!?!" - Rise was still beautiful although Rick tried to sing back-up but without his mic he was kinda at a loss. And the fact that Jonathan wasn't able to jump around so much anymore was a bummer indeed. And I have to admit that Wounded Guide wasn't as beautiful as I remembered due to all the other wonderful songs...but I can live with that ;-)
When Rick had his first solo they showed this really cute slide show of pics of all the kids when they were young ;-) - a real treat - and I almost choked 'cause there was also a picture of Bono ;-) ! The cutest part of it though was that they had a lot of really funny and cute pics of their cats - but that's just me due to the fact that I also have a funny cat [a friend gave her the nickname Psycho Kitty...]
After his solo Rick called Jonathan back onstage (he had kinda vanished) "Jonathan!? You have to announce someone...!?" Seconds later Jon came back onstage calling for someone "who glows in the dark" and Candice came up. Whoa. I didn't have any clue at all how good she is!?!?! They started with this really beautiful song I hope You Dance (now one of my favorites!!!) Listen to the original [about 1.88 MB] by Lee Ann Womack and then compare it to Candice's version [only refrain, 829 KB.] Jonathan sang back-up "Time is a wheel in constant motion, always rolling us along. Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone?" I got goosebumps all over me! It was sooo BEAUTIFUL!!! One thing: has someone ever noticed that as soon as he sings a song that is not his own or doesn't necessarily have anything to do with God that his voice sounds completely different? Or is it just me?
And right when I thought that it couldn't possibly get any better...it just does! 'Cause they played my absolute favorite song: Higher by Creed. I just love him for letting me see him play those wonderful notes. It was powerful and Candice was totally into it - so much that she didn't even notice that she bumped into Jon's mic and hit him! Twice!! His expression was cute: complete bewilderment and grinning 'cause Candice didn't realize what she did ;-).
Candice's last song was Lovely by Michelle Tumes. It was so sad-sounding and I almost believe she cried. I know I almost did. After that Rick talked with Jonathan and then took the mic "Jonathan just allowed me to do another song ;-)" - Daddy's Little Girl. Jonathan sometimes sang backup and I couldn't get this picture out of my head: I remembered that I had read somewhere how he used to go onstage with his Dad as a little kid and just started singing ;-).
The first song after the break is difficult to describe 'cause it totally scared me, I was frightened and I wanted nothing else than to run out of the room - yet his voice! It was so strong, so powerful, so gripping I couldn't move, I was mesmerized. This was also a song that showed pretty obvious signs of Jonathan's favorite musician! His voice, his music and the "dance" [though I wouldn't actually call it dancing ;-) ...] reminded me so much of Bono. Btw, he was using his wireless mic again...though not very long ;-) 'cause it went out again. While the crew was trying to organize a new mic Richard tried to comfort his brother by saying to the audience "Tell Johnny he sounds good" [by that Jonathan cringed - how CUTE!!!] and the audience obeyed readily :-)
The next song that is now an absolute favorite of mine is one of the many improvised of this evening: Forever Together "I only have the chords and the band's never played it. Let's see what God's gonna say in the lyrics" I really love his ballads!!! They're so beautiful. *sigh*
Another display of his haunting voice was I Am My Beloved's. The only thing I have in my ear is his voice. If I didn't know any better I would say it was a cappella...
His father requested the next song: Jesus Loves Me. And even though I'm not that religious...I totally love this song since I saw the video of the Gospel Hour!!! And I really have to thank Rick for requesting it ;-) !!! I even sang along...
As many others in the audience I also totally freaked when I saw Jonathan going up to the piano. All the time - especially when I saw pictures of him at the piano - I wanted to know what he sounds like on the piano! And my wishes were heard! And it was just perfect. This guy is so completely blessed with talents it's unbelievable. Is there anything he can't pull off???
When True Love - the song Richard had requested when Jonathan was still sitting at the piano - ended Jon just said something like "That was it. Thanks for coming." When I finally realized that (after over 3 hours!!!!) the best concert ever in my life was really over, the lights were already on for minutes and people were streaming up to the stage to get an autograph or a picture or just a word. Well, we also decided to get up to finally get our autograph and picture of Richard. We could see Jonathan talking to a reporter of, I think, the local WB doing an interview and when he turned around (my heart made a really big jump) and saw me, he recognized me, waved his hand and came straight to us, thanking us again for coming. He is so sweet!!! Anyway, I remembered that I had brought him something (a key chain with the Scottish Clan Tartan for the Jackson Clan imported from Scotland, so it's the real deal) The really strange part is that even though he was pretty close I didn't look him in the eyes (although that was something very high on my to-do-list...) but I saw other things ;-) ... he had this silver ring on and while he talked to us he played with it putting it on every finger and back. I don't think I have to tell anyone how sexy a simple silver ring can look on a guy, do I?
He said Richard's gonna be with us in a minute, he is just doing his part of the interview. After an eternity - and Josh with his camera in our face ;-) - Richard finally made it. He started saying hello to everyone and he asked me if he could borrow my pen so he could sign all those pictures (why do fans always forget to bring pens???) He was really sweet to everyone and finally came to us - Katharina could finally get her "Oh, Brothers" [People Magazine!!!] picture signed [he seemed kinda confused 'cause I had scanned the picture and printed on photo paper - so it looked like a real photo ;-)] He also signed my God Candy CD Cover - oh and they had brought Bibles out (for free) which they also signed. I definetely got mine - see, I always wanted to have an English - well American - Bible (that's how twisted my 'beliefs' are...) When he asked for my name to write down, he got this cute kinda quizzical look on his face "Are you the one who came all the way from Germany?" - "Yes" - "Cool! Have you seen the sign at the door?" He seemed also pretty impressed. (And I know I'm repetitive, but I hadn't quite realized that it was this strange - a friend of mine flew to Chicago just to see Keanu Reeves with Dogstar and another 2 friends who flew to London to see Russell Crowe's band...)
He then made the round and we waited for him to come down off the stage so we could get our picture done. Michelle had joined us again and then Richard was there. I asked him if I could get a picture with him or better we. When Katharina tried to make the photo with my camera she punched all buttons but the right one ;-) and I instructed her in German...you just had to see their (Michelle and Richard's) faces ;-D 'cause they didn't understand a single word I was saying ;-) LOL [And I was always the lucky one to hold on to the guys just a little longer ;-) ...] Btw, Richard also had to show off his German though just one sentence but he knew the ones I was telling him. Then Jonathan came back to us (signing the God Candy CD Cover) and he also signed my Bible - in German! Ok, ok, I spelled it out for him ;-) - but it was his idea... Michelle then took my booklet and got Rick and Jeannine's signature! Thanks Michelle! Again!
After we were all set and ready to leave (not really but you know what I mean...) Michelle was so kind to snatch somebody's cell and call us a cab. Thank you!!! She insisted on waiting with us for our cab and we did that in the 'lobby.' And while we were waiting and talking guess who came out of the men's room ;-) [unfortunately not Jonathan ;-)] but rather Will Rotunno - the sweetest guy! His face lit up when I asked him for his autograph (although I couldn't possibly have ever seen any glimpse of him before...) but since everyone's so impressed with his acting in Crystal Clear, I couldn't let this opportunity just go away ;-) . When he knew who we were he was really excited and he also tried one German sentence ;-) - guess Jonathan got them all to try those tapes... Michelle took a picture of all of us again - she knew now how to handle my camera - and she forced me to ask her for her autograph too ;-) - just kidding. But if you finally wanna know what she looks like - here's your chance: . By then we all realized that the cab was never going to show so Michelle snatched another cell and called a second cab.
It was about midnight and we all wanted to go home - the stage was cleared and we were probably the only fans left. Michelle talked with us a little more about the 'off-screen' Jonathan and how after the Gospel Hour she had given him the lyrics to Amazing Grace - and that was when Kat and I remembered that we had done the same! We still had the lyrics in my bag so we got it out and Michelle - while laughing real hard :-) - said I should write a note and she would give it to Jonathan. And she had the greatest idea: that I would find the German version and give it to him also! [Btw, great idea - but you should always be careful what you promise ;-)] She ran back into the Auditorium and we heard a scream/laugh and a high five - he'd gotten it.
At that point Katharina had decided to get out her camera again and tape whatever she could from that distance - but suddenly Jonathan was there with us - "Is that thing on?" He immediately posed for her camera (you could just see how easy it is for this guy to not just stand in front of a camera but also to play with it) and then he did the coolest thing: he talked German again!!! "Entschuldigen Sie" [Excuse me?] - "Ich spreche nur ein bißchen deutsch" [I only speak a little bit of German]- "Sind Sie Amerikaner?" [Are you American?]- and my favorite 'cause it sounded sooo cute ;-) : "Gott liebt Dich." [God loves you] Just listen. Though he said it a little bit like a French person would do it ["Godd liebet disch"] and he knew it, he asked me if I could say it again so he could try it better. Well, after a second of listening, he got it totally right!!! I'm still so impressed with that, sorry I keep repeating myself.
When Michelle told Jon that she really needed to go but that she wouldn't want to leave us waiting alone he said the most beautiful words a fan ever wants to hear ;-) "We're gonna wait with them." Unfortunately (and actually I could kick that cab driver for it), the second cab came about 2 minutes later. Grrrrr. Jonathan watched us till we were safe and sound in the cab (after saying good-bye to everyone and Michelle in particular.)
So this is it. Many people have asked me if it really was worth it. YES YES YES!!! And I would do it all over again. I probably will when the next concert is at an equally fitting date ;-) [I would have loved going to LA for that Skeletons screening but I had my midterm on that day...]
Since we came all the way we decided to see at least a little bit of Portland on a city tour on Monday. This is a really beautiful city with an even more beautiful landscape, btw. Here are some impressions:
(click for larger version)
(you need QuickTime for the video files)
He's Alive (mov /1.57 MB / 28s)
Raise Your Voice (mov /6.74 MB / 1:57min)
Jesus Loves Me (mov /3.27 MB / 57s)
I Hope You Dance (mp3 / 829 KB / 1:10min)
Jesus Loves Me (mp3 / 2.12 KB / 3:05min)
Forever Together (mp3 / 5.57 MB / 8:07min)
I Am My Beloved's (mp3 / 3.22 KB / 4:41min)