The Sunday morning drive from Cleveland to Pittsburgh was surreal. I listened to the Borrowed Heaven CD all the way while playing back the “video” of Saturday’s concert in my head. The songs seemed so much more powerful after having seen the emotion that Andrea put into them the night before. In fact, during “Goodbye” I had to pull over to the shoulder and stop.
I took the scenic route downtown, taking Route 65 along the Ohio River from Beaver Falls because the road also follows the railroad tracks. I arrived before lunch and checked out the area. It had been quite a few years since I was last at Station Square and things had changed drastically. I then located my hotel, on the south-side of town, but they wouldn’t let me check-in until after 2:00pm. I didn’t want to wait that long, so I headed back to the venue. One perk (for a train-lover like me) is that the CSX mainline runs directly beside the pavilion and the Norfolk Southern mainline is right across the street along the base of the hill. I photographed trains for a while until I saw something interesting across the river. The band bus was coming off the expressway and crossing the Smithfield Street bridge headed for the venue. Upon arrival, though, they backed the bus inside the fence before unloading. So I didn’t get to see the band disembark this time either, although I did see Andrea inside the front window of the bus as it arrived. By now, of course, there were several other fans hanging around and we all moved over to the river-side of the pavilion where we could watch the sound check. Security was very courteous and allowed us to watch and take pictures until the band was ready to play. They then asked us to stop taking pictures, which we did, but allowed us to keep watching. Sharon had quite a bit of trouble with her violin, the pickup didn’t seem to be working right, and for a while she used “Bluey” to allow the sound check to continue. Part way through the sound check, an outsider showed up and started taking pictures, even though several fans told him it was no longer permitted. He continued anyway and gave the security people a hard time when they came over and asked him to stop. Eventually, venue security came over and said nobody was allowed to be there and chased us all away. We were, of course, quite upset, but at least we could still listen.
The time finally arrived and this time I actually had to wait in line. I had checked at the box office earlier to see if any closer tickets were available, but they said no. After I got inside there was a booth selling “upgrades” for a rather significant price, but I decided to keep my eighth row seat. I was on Jim’s side this time and the greater distance from the stage was a mixed blessing. It provided a different perspective on things, but it also meant I was using full zoom most of the time. The lighting wasn’t as good as at Cleveland, so most of the pictures are darker and not quite as razor sharp. In hindsight, I would have bumped up the ISO setting on the camera to gain sharpness since the most of the additional grain can be filtered out in post-processing. Oh well. The crowd in Pittsburgh was not nearly as enthusiastic as Cleveland and Andrea had to practically beg for some feedback. This time, though, she did remember to take off her slippers and go barefoot. Despite the more sedate audience, the band still put on a great performance (of course!)
Since the next concert wasn’t until Wednesday, I hung around Pittsburgh on Monday to do some sightseeing and shopping. On Tuesday I headed for the mountains west of Cumberland, Maryland, to do some railroad photography.