There are songs that come on the radio that immediately take you straight back to a particular time and place – and films too, which from just one or two famous quotes, you can ‘name that film’ in an instant.
I was only 14 when the immortal lines, ‘wax on, wax off’, were muttered and a then-young Ralph Macchio took the lead role in the film, ‘Karate Kid’. It was the sequel to the original film that had the hit song, ‘Glory of Love’, by Peter Cetera – which I remember we used to play on continuous loop using a tape player during lunch breaks at secondary school. Someone had managed to get a recording off the radio (along with ‘I just died in your arms’ by ‘Cutting Crew’) on a Sunday evening as they listened to the Gallup Top 40 countdown. Those were the days of high entertainment, I can tell you. Every time I hear either song, I can picture the old school music room now, hear our warbling renditions and the cobbled together worn-out tape that was endlessly played……
Never did I think in the heady days of 1986 at a high school in North Manchester, that 30 years later – not only would I be watching Peter Cetera perform live in concert, but I’d be sat watching him crank up the vocals in a casino in Edmonton, and we’d be living in Canada too. Yes – really. It’s funny when you look back and reflect on what you thought you may be doing later in life – only to find its something so different, you’d never even imagined it in the first place.
My parents have been visiting us from the UK and suggested we took advantage of a rare ‘night out’ – just the husband and I. One of the drawbacks of living abroad is that where we go, the 3 kids go too – so, given the prospect of a rare ‘night out’, we decided it had to be somewhere we would never be able to go with ‘kids in tow’. Hence, after a trawl on the internet for ideas, we noticed the local casino was hosting an evening of entertainment with Peter Cetera (ex-frontman of Chicago ……. ‘If you leave me now’, ‘You’re the inspiration’, ‘Hard to say I’m sorry’ ….. need I go on?)
Now, I’m not a regular to casinos – in fact, the one in Edmonton we went to is owned and located on a First Nation reserve. It’s a large complex, complete with restaurant, slot machines, poker tables, bar areas – all before you finally walk into the concert venue. Upcoming advertisements for future concerts included the likes of Olivia Newton-John, Boyz II Men, and ….. oh yes, this musical …..
Now, I’m not even sure how to operate any of the slot machines, but in for a penny, in for a pound (or a ‘loonie’ if you’re on this side of the pond), and we thought we’d try our luck. Our approach isn’t considered or based on any rationale whatsoever. It’s purely a matter of pressing a random selection of buttons on the slot machine and seeing what happens – which unsurprisingly, soon materialised as a quick way to relieve us of our initial $20 bill.
So, for our final press, I went for the big hit – a high risk, high loss but also potentially high gain strategy. Still slightly unsure how everything worked and what constituted a ‘win’, when lo and behold, the machine started counting in the opposite direction. And continued counting upwards. We looked in slight disbelief as our initial ‘investment’ of $20 was reached …. and still it climbed. And climbed. The machine passed $30 …… then $40 ….. then $50. By this time, I was laughing hysterically – and in disbelief. It finally stopped at $54 and invited us to ‘try again’, or ‘collect’. Let’s just say, we cut and run – took the money and ‘invested’ it in several rounds of drinks. One of which was an ‘albertan caesar’, which is an amazing tomato/clam-based drink with vodka, all manner of ground pepper and tabasco, garnished with pickled beans and, would you believe, an actual rasher of bacon stood up in the drink. Only in Canadia …..
And what about the concert I hear you ask? Well, Peter Cetera was in fine vocal form. He delivered a superb performance – his voice sounded identical to when I first heard him back in the early 80’s, the music was polished and his band were all accomplished professional musicians in their own right. Each had played with some of the biggest and the best names in music pop history – and rather like the Jools Holland band which I’ve watched perform in an open-air gig back in London, you could just listen to them alone.
Whilst ‘Peter’ certainly looked and sounded as though he hadn’t changed much since the 80’s – it felt like a complete lifetime ago since I was in that school music room back in 1986 listening to him on the radio. Who’d have thought 30 years later, I’d be in Canada, in a casino, with a caesar, and watching Cetera himself …. 🙂