[This was written by Katherine E. Kessler; I was the “fellow staff member” mentioned, also got to shake Brian’s hand and probably assisted in the writing. Still one of my top 10 concerts, and available as a video recording]
7:50 a.m. Friday morning. My first thought “What the hell am I doing awake at this insane hour? I only went to sleep four hours ago.” My second thought “Did the guy on the radio just say Brian May… at Hammerjacks? Tonight!” Well, I guess my pledge to not go to Hammerjacks this weekend (it would have the first time in a couple of months that would have happened) was about to be shattered. And so began the best day of my life.
I tried to go back to sleep. I really did. I tried real hard. I tried to count water buffalo, but it was just to damn noisy and the neighbors started to complain. So I gave up.
Now it’s 8:10 in the morning. I really needed to tell someone, but I value my life and don’t particularly want to lose it over a phone call. I debated over it in my mind for about three seconds, then called my friend at UVA.
Surprise, surprise. I woke her up. Weil, sort of. I told her that Brian May was going to be at Hammerjacks and it was free. She said that was good and went back sleep, before she even hung up the phone.
I waited awhile, then called another friend at work. She couldn’t come. I called yet another friend at work, he couldn’t come. Called a couple other friends. They weren’t home. Great. It was beginning to to look like I was going to Hammerjacks alone.
I wasn’t going to even consider not going. My chance to fulfill my greatest dream, and I was not going to miss it just because no one else could go. Seeing Brian May live would not only give my life meaning, I would then be able to die happy. Brian May is my hero.
For those of you who for some strange, deranged reason don’t have any clue who Brian May is… you should be taken out and shot… several times. He is a rock icon. He was the lead guitarist for one of the best bands ever, Queen. The man is amazing.
10:30. The phone rings. The voice end says “Did you say Brian May?” I spent the next half hour listening to my friend convincing herself that she really didn’t need was to go to her class or her meeting.
I was supposed to go pick up a friend in West Virginia, but I wasn’t supposed to leave until 3 p.m. However, I wanted to leave for Baltimore by 6 p.m. Big problem. So I talked to my friend (who’s boyfriend I was picking up) and told her to call him at 2:30 and tell him that I should be there in a few minutes. I left here at 1. Plenty of time.
Then I sat in the lounge waiting for him for 45 minutes. Finally, he showed up. Apparently, she had just called him. It was 3:15. Well, I guess I wasn’t going to get back to Virginia (all get away from all the trucks) by 4. Oh, well. I finally got home around 5:20. Just barely enough time to get ready.
About 6:15, my friend from UVA, a fellow staff member, and I left for Baltimore. An hour and a half later, we finally got on 95. Then I hit seventy-five mph and didn’t slow down until we hit Baltimore. Amazingly, we got there in time. Actually, we got there a couple hours before the show actually started.
With two hours to kill, what did we do? We chat with the T-shirt dude. By the time the show starts, we are on the guest list for his next show in New York, I have a free T-shirt, and he’s going to try to get us backstage after the show. And we didn’t even have to promise to sleep with him. Wonders never cease.
Around ten-thirty the show finally starts. The smile doesn’t leave my face from the moment Brian May walked on stage until, well, actually, it’s still there. The shock that I am actually standing only ten feet from the one and only Brian May wears off sometime during the second song of his first encore. The show is amazing. By far the best one that I’ve ever been to. I’m on cloud nine just about now. And am libel to stay that way for months to come.
After the show was over, we went down and waited for the T-shirt guy to close up. An extremely long hour later, he went to put the shirts away and see about getting us backstage. Five minutes later, he’s waving for us to follow him.
We walked through the DJ’s booth and into a rather small back room. The security guard tells us to close the door behind us. I notice that the only other people in this room either work at Hammerjacks or for the band. Then I see him. Standing by the door in a full length leather trench coat.
One of the security guards said “We need to move some people out of here.” A deep thick British accent pipes in “Does that include me too?” That voice, it was Brian May.
We started to walk towards another small room and just happened to pass by him. I shook his hand. I said something to him. He smiled and responded. In complete and total awe and shock, I can’t remember what was said for the life of me.
I meet Brian May.
About one minute later, he left for the airport. Talk about timing.
As we piled in the car, I made a comment to the effect of “Now I can die happy. If I died tomorrow, it would be O.K. because my one dream has been fulfilled.”
Then, as we drove away over the train tracks, we were almost hit by an oncoming train that my friend swore wasn’t there.
[Originally published in Expulsion, an independent George Mason University student newspaper]