The Sting of Friday afternoon traffic - At Nissan Pavilion concert, Annie Lennox was the cake and Sting the icing...
'Sacred Love' tour not one to be missed.
The anticipation was almost unbearable. I had been waiting more than a month for the opportunity to photograph and review the Sacred Love performance by Annie Lennox and Sting at Nissan Pavilion on Friday.
That afternoon, at 1:05 to be precise, I received the call I'd been hoping for. Yes - I had been approved for press passes!
I was to be at the Nissan Pavilion administrative office at 7:20 p.m., where I would receive my press pass and then be escorted to the front of the stage. From there, I would be required to stand at the feet of my idol and photograph her for her first three songs.
Be still, my heart!
After Annie sang her third song, I was to leave front stage and be seated in the orchestra section for the remainder of Annie's performance. Then back to the administrative office at 8:50 p.m. to again be escorted to the front of the stage to shoot Sting's first three songs, and back to my seat for Sting's remaining performance. I was ready for the challenge.
I quickly showered, changed, hooked up my camera gear, packed my notepad, let the dogs out, and prepared for my trek north. I called my friend who lives just off Interstate 66 en route to Nissan Pavilion, and he, too, was ready for the adventure.
I should probably let you know upfront, I'm a deep-down, longtime Annie Lennox fan. I think Sting is wonderful, but the way I saw it, Annie was the cake and Sting the icing. I would do just about anything for Annie Lennox. Why, I would even drive on I-95 and I-66 on a Friday afternoon for just a momentary glimpse of her.
Unfortunately, my four-hour ''sacred love'' journey from Fredericksburg to the Nissan Pavilion was neither sacred nor loving.
Mine was one of more than 5,000 cars trying to cram their way from a multilane highway onto a single-lane road which led into the unpaved Pavilion parking lot.
It was pure slow-moving-to-not-at-all-moving chaos. Somewhere on I-66, the clock struck 7:20, at which moment I officially became one with that part of the elemental realm which exists on the underside of the sacred love wheel.
I arrived at the Pavilion just in time to hear Annie Lennox sing her last song from the distance of my faraway parking spot. The crowd roared for an encore as my heart roared with disappointment, sadness, frustration.
It was 8:20 p.m. Annie Lennox was done.
You know the TV commercial where the woman who has waited all her life to see a whale takes a moment to go into her purse to get a stick of gum just as the whale lurches out of the ocean in all its glory, and she misses the entire experience?
Well, I understood that woman.
I was that woman.
I still had enough time to check in, get my pass and go front stage to photograph Sting, so I followed protocol. But even the best icing without cake just isn't that great.
By then, disappointment had stolen my motivation and energy. Camera in hand, I went through the motions from front stage.
Click click click. One song. Two songs.
As I knelt down to load a new roll of film for Sting's third (and final photo op) song, the crowd exploded. I turned around to realize that I was looking directly at Annie Lennox!
The film was loaded at superspeed and I was able to experience and capture a few wonderful and magical moments.
This was the one and only song Annie performed with Sting and I'm grateful to have been there for it.
I had my glimpse, all was not lost.
Sting proceeded to put on a magnificent performance. The man is a musical genius, his band is fantastic, his sound was tight, the lights were amazing.
But I was still numb and unable to experience even a momentary chill. I also knew that since I missed the first half of the show, I would not be equipped to write a proper review of the full Sacred Love Tour 2004.
Upon reflection, I realized that the experiences of my evening provided me with another story. I could provide readers with some insight and possibly even some advice for how enjoy a night out at Nissan Pavilion.
We are incredibly fortunate to live so close to a venue of such esteem and prestige as the Nissan Pavilion. The acoustics are top-notch, the lighting/effects and video screens are breathtaking, and world-class acts can be experienced less than 50 miles away.
With that said, I offer you the following:
Plan to arrive as early as possible.
Be prepared to invest plenty of time on both ends of your journey.
Pack food and drink and snacks for your late-night return trip, too.
Prepare to be patient.
Do whatever you possibly can to avoid coming in to Nissan Pavilion via I-66. (If you must take this route, for whatever reason, expect to travel at an average speed of 7 mph.)
Best route from Fredericksburg: Interstate 95 north approximately 23 miles; take Exit 152B toward Manassas and travel another 20 miles; turn left onto Wellington Road and travel 3.4 miles.
Realize beforehand that the Nissan Pavilion parking lot is unpaved and unmarked, and you will more than likely feel that your mandatory $3.50 parking fee is money not at all well-spent. Just accept that as part of the concert experience, it's not worth the frustration.
Wear comfortable walking shoes.
Park as close to the entrance/exit gate as possible.
Last but not least, memorize the Nissan Pavilion Law of Motion: if you arrive late, you will also leave late.
I actually sat in the parking lot for almost two hours before I could move an inch. I returned home to Fredericksburg at 3:05 a.m. and didn't get to sleep until after 4 a.m.
I'll spare you the details of what my dogs did while I was away.
But I highly recommend catching the 'Sacred Love' 2004 Tour.
It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and one not to be missed.
Trust me on that.
(c) The Free Lance-Star by Suzanne Moe