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July 19, 2017

Never Give Up On A Dream

Tampa Bay, Florida, Amalie Arena Review 8/7/17 By Megan 'Nannan' Gatchell

posted by Mike Walton

Never give up on a dream, right? Two years ago, I set one of the grandest goals of my life. That goal was to meet my idol: one Mr. Rod Stewart. To say I was and am a Rod fan would be an understatement. I have numerous Rod-related tattoos, am in a Rod Stewart punk rock/goth tribute band, have a Rod Stewart bathroom, started what I call “Rod Stewart Monday” (where Rod videos, pics, etc. are emphasized to help myself and others through an otherwise undesirable day), etc., etc. To help me achieve this goal, I reckoned I had to think outside of the box. I decided to make a laugh-worthy video (with the help of my boyfriend and brother) to showcase my Rod superfandom and to essentially help in my “campaign” to meet the man himself.

The video took off in a way I didn’t expect. The night we first posted the video, one of Rod’s children shared it on Twitter. I said, “Wow, this will probably be pretty easy to achieve!” Boy, was I wrong. We did get a lot of feedback on the video before it was time for me to see Rod. Dozens and dozens of individuals and even a couple of media outlets shared the video. I even got an email from a prominent Atlanta reporter telling me she had tried to secure me a meet and greet, but was unable to. There were a lot of what seemed like close calls, but ultimately, my dream did not come true in Atlanta. I was disappointed, but I decided to press on and try again in the future.

As time went on, the video got more views. It still got some attention and an occasional something-or-other would come from it (article, post, etc.). One of the last things that happened as a result of the video came in the form of an issuance to me of free tickets to one of Rod’s shows. This show was to take place in Tampa on July 8th, 2017. I was so excited to see Rod perform again, and I was ready to retry achieving my goal of meeting him. By this time, the video had over 4,000 views. I sent emails, messages, and tweets to various media outlets yet again, trying to showcase the video as a reason to offer me a meet and greet. I tried everything I could think of, but nothing was happening.

I did get a “lead” from a friend at SMILER who told me to contact a certain person that may be of help. Ultimately, I believed that person’s response could be the determining factor of whether or not my dream would come true this time around. It seemed like I checked my email a million times in the week leading up to show. I hoped against hoped that I would hear something back, but even the night before the show, I had still received nothing. I basically accepted the fact that my Rod meeting would not happen yet again.

The next morning, I woke up and began getting ready for our trip to Tampa. As I took a break to enjoy some coffee, I checked a few things on my phone. The next few seconds were a blur. I saw I had FINALLY gotten a message back from the person I was hoping to hear from. I had to re-read the message they sent probably twenty times. I HAD BEEN OFFERED A ROD MEET AND GREET FOR THAT VERY NIGHT. I screamed, called my boyfriend (who would be accompanying me to the show and now to the meet and greet), and walked around my house in circles for far too long, unable to do anything else but bask in the glory of that message.

I think I thought of every single thing that could go wrong that day-- more so than any other in history. Nervous wrecks on the ride to the arena, Kelby and I finally anxiously arrived in Tampa. Upon arrival, we went to redeem our tickets. We checked out our seats, and decided to call the tour manager. He had us meet up with him and gave us backstage passes. So much anticipation had come to this moment. There we were, backstage passes in hand, ready to meet Rod, when the tour manager told us it would be another couple of hours before it was time to meet Rod! We were to meet him in between Cyndi’s set and his own. The anxiety mounted.

Cyndi started the night off with a bang. She played the hits, of course, but also played some other tracks off of various records. She even covered “The End of the World” on a rotating platform in a sparkly clothing creation. My personal favorite was her performance of “Time After Time.” It was poignant, to say the least. I also very much enjoyed her performance of “I Drove All Night.” Her voice was strong throughout the performance. She certainly utilized all of the stage, and even performed in the audience for part of a song. She was absolutely a spectacular and appropriate tour partner for Rod.

After Cyndi finished her set with “True Colors”, it was time to meet Rod. We were led backstage and asked to wait in an area. It was just Kelby and I by ourselves, for probably 15 minutes (though it felt like 5 hours!). We heard Rod warming up, and what was about to happen really hit me most when Kelby said, “Nan! Look!!”, and we both turned to see the back of Rod’s head as he walked down the hall into another room. Seeing that hair and his loud metallic jacket in person was surreal. A few minutes later, he finally walked toward us with a small entourage. As he came toward us, he held out his arms, looking me directly in the eyes, and the first words he uttered (accent and all!) were, “Your wish has come true!!” We hugged. We had a few minutes together—enough time to take some pictures and chat for a moment. I took an opportunity to show my portrait tattoo of him that I have on my leg, which he loved. He said he had seen the video. He told me I looked lovely, and he talked with Kelby for a moment, too. It was fairly brief, but definitely was longer and much more intimate than it could have been, for which I will forever be grateful. It was magic; there is hardly another way to describe it. I have difficulty even articulating what transpired and how it felt. It was surreal of course, but then again, it was just like I was meeting up with an old, good friend.

After the meeting, I was time to get to see Rod perform! Rod’s set was nothing short of impeccable. He walked right in and immediately captured the audience with his opening number, “Infatuation.” From there he went into “Some Guys Have All the Luck.” Next, it was time for his duet with Cyndi! I had been told backstage that this would be the first onstage duet of the tour! They performed “This Old Heart of Mine” together, and it was perfect. I wouldn’t have expected that that would have been their duet choice, but it made it all the more special.

Rod then performed “Tonight’s he Night”, “You Wear it Well”, “Forever Young,“Rhythm of My Heart”, “Young Turks”, “Downtown Train”, “The First Cut is the Deepest”, “Ooh La La”, “You’re in my Heart”, and “Have I told You Lately.”

I have to make a special note that his next song choice was particularly spectacular. He said something about it being older and that some of the audience may not recognize it.He then performed, “I’d Rather Go Blind.” It was just beautiful. His voice was FLAWLESS (as it had been throughout his entire set). I felt lucky to see him sing that song live, one of my favorites. It was just a stunning performance.Rod closed out the night with

"Maggie May”, “Stay With Me” (complete with soccer balls, of course), and “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?”. I was kind of surprised, because Rod did not play any songs off of his newer releases (when he did the first time I saw him).He simply stuck to the hits. I did think it was kind of neat, though. I think I preferred it that way, though I wouldn’t have minded hearing a few newer songs. His stamina was on point. He did look fit and as ready to rock n roll as ever! He was just…amazing--a true professional and a true showman.

All in all, it was a tremendous night. The artists could not have performed better. We had amazing seats that really allowed us to see the performers at their best. The meeting with Rod was indescribable. I have been talking about that night every day since. (The support and celebration I have received since meeting Rod has been massive; it is so incredible to know so many people wanted my dream to come true as much as I did! I
ABSOLUTELY now can say for certain that any dream can come true if you try hard enough and believe enough.) Anyway, what can I say? Some girls have all the luck

Review By Megan 'Nannan' Gatchell
Photos By Myra Morgan
Montage By Tommy Kevitt

© 2019 SMILER Magazine

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