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The Steve Miller Band


The Steve Miller Band Live in Everett, Wa (November 10, 2011)

Yes, this happened. I'd hesitated to write about this event (for an entire 1.5 years), because it happened while I was at work. And I really didn't want to write about work. My reviews tend to be laden with sarcasm, and I'm somewhat paranoid enough to believe that one snide comment (whether irrelevant or not) I'd have about work that gets posted on the Internet would be enough to get me fired. Now, I guess, I am a little bit more secure. And, also: Enough time has passed by that whatever snide comment I might have made about work in November 2011 has been forgotten. Well, mostly forgotten.

So. In case you don't know every intricate detail about my life, here I go: I am an aerospace engineer who works at Boeing. In November 2011, I had only been employed at the company for 10 months. The bulk of what I was doing at this time was essentially housekeeping engineering work for the 747-8. I shall not go into more detail about my work-life in than that.

I was vaguely aware, though a series of group e-mails, that there would be an all-team conference on November 10. The purpose of the conference was to celebrate the completion of the 747-8. Capstoning this event, there was to be what was referred to as a “surprise musical guest.” I doubted strongly that this would be a musical guest I'd have heard of--or, at the very most--an act I'd deem interesting (in my infinite wisdom). I attended this event, of course. Not only was I curious about it, but my manager expressed--via group e-mail--that attendance was mandatory*.

(* “Mandatory,” I've come to realize in work-speak, actually means “strongly encouraged.” If a manager intends “mandatory” in the dictionary-definition sense, there must be some kind of threat attached to it.)

So anyway, it was a legitimate surprise (after about 30 minutes of executives giving loud speeches) when the guest musicians were revealed to be legitimately famous. Also--one of their big hits being “Jet Airliner”--this group was about as appropriate of a choice as it could get. You could even say “ideal.” (OK, I guess we're forgetting that this particular song is written in the point of view of someone who doesn't want to fly on a jet airliner. But we're not gonna dwell on these sorts of technicalities. All that matters is this is The Steve Miller Band, and they had a hit song about an airplane. We'll get on with it.) They also had another renown song that could be vaguely tied to airplanes called “Fly Like an Eagle.” So naturally they sang that one. However, if you find yourself looking in the sky and you literally see an airplane flap its wings like an eagle, please call 911 immediately. As an aerospace engineer, it is my professional opinion that it shouldn't be doing that.

Sarcasm aside, this was an interesting event and probably the only private concert I'll ever attend. More than that, it's certainly the only concert I'll ever be paid to attend. This was an on-hours conference that occurred in the middle of the work-day. The 90 minutes or so the conference lasted, everyone was getting paid their usual salary. According to Boeing news reports, there were more than 7,000 people attending, which means there were probably more people than I who felt awkward about this.

An interesting fact: This happened in the Boeing factory in Everett, which is the largest building--by volume--in the entire world. In other words, the acoustics there were insane. Actually, they were probably a little better than the average outdoors venue. A single booming noise coming out of those speakers would reverberate for at least 30 seconds. Maybe longer. Crazy. I seem to remember Steve Miller spending a few seconds trying this out. I'm not positive he did this, which is why it wasn't a good idea for me to have waited nearly 1.5 years to write this review. My mind has erased too many of the details.

I can spend a lot of time in my normal concert reviews talking about the extent I go through getting the best seat/position possible. In this case, I was lackadaisical enough about it that I pretty much resigned myself to standing in back. I could therefore only catch a few rare glimpses of a live, insect-sized Steve Miller behind a sea of silhouetted heads. (Of course, this was a factory, and the floor was entirely flat.) They did have the big screens out, though, so I could see what Steve Miller looked like. I couldn't say, at the time, I was ever a particular fan of his, so I legitimately hadn't any idea of his physical appearance. ...I'm guessing by the state of his acoustic guitar, he found it in a gutter sometime in the '60s and never got it repaired. He also had a distinctive looking back-up singer named Sonny Charles who was 70 years old and danced around like a rubbery maniac. (That guy had a notable hit in 1969, “Black Pearl” produced by Phil Spector, as a member of the vocal group Checkmates, Ltd.)

The concert wasn't a full setlist, of course. It was a celebration, but not that much of a celebration. The concert portion of the event lasted, maybe, 30 minutes. I can't tell you for certain what they played other than what I already mentioned, plus “The Joker,” “Abacadabra,” and “Take the Money and Run” (the latter of which I'd considered the most recognizable song they played). Trying to scour some information about this event online and trying to jog my ancient memory of this, I think they probably also played “Jungle Love.”

Steve Miller closed it by saying that he would like to come back and do a full setlist. Which was an OK thing to wish, but that has about as much of a chance of happening as an airplane flapping its wings like an eagle. This was a business, after all. And we can't have starry-eyed employees loitering about the factory all day.

All reviews are written by Michael Lawrence.