Survivor: The Next Generation

It’s been 27 years, 2 months and 15 days. But who’s counting?

Nearly 10,000 days. That’s the duration of time between when I first saw the band Survivor perform at Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, PA and the day I took my daughter Jillian to see them for the very first time this past Sunday at Penns Peak.

Oh sure, we went to Hershey Park a few summers ago when the band was there but let’s be honest: when you put an 8-year-old girl in an amusement park surrounded by chocolate it’s damn near impossible to get her to sit still for an audio assault of classic rock.

So, while Mom and child made their way around the park Dad took one for the team. I know, it’s a tough job.

But Sunday night was the ideal night. It had been almost seven years since Jimi Jamison fronted the band and it would be Jillian’s first time to see and hear the band her Dad’s been clamoring about since she first wondered what that “Vital Signs” album was doing hanging on the wall in his office.

If you are a classic rock, hair-metal or country music lover Penns Peak is the absolute best place to see a show. It reminds me so much of the intimacy that Stabler Arena had. A venue that when you first walk in you can literally read the band’s name on the drum header without the need of binoculars. As far as I’m concerned a concert isn’t just a band playing for you. You need to be part of the experience. A concert is when the band is playing WITH you.

As Jillian and I stood in the second row the band ran through a gambit of hits and even a few surprises as well. Truth be told, it’s been a long time since I’ve heard them sound this good. And this was only their fourth show together with this new line-up. A sign of good things to come!

We were extremely fortunate to get back stage passes for a quick meet and greet with the band after the show.

Jillian, an aspiring singer herself, asked Jimi (one of the greatest male rock vocalists of all time) if he had any advice for her. This is what he said:

Persistence. Just keep singing. The more you do it, the better you get. That’s the best advice I can give you!

My mind is a bit faded since that Survivor concert two dozen years ago and for the longest time it was hard for me to try to put into words how I felt the night I saw them for the very first time.

That was until a friend showed me a picture she had taken of Jillian and me after the show was over. Then I figured it out.

After the band said goodbye and got into the van to take them back to the hotel Jillian and i stood there for a minute basking in the glow. It was at this point that a simple song lyric came to mind:

We will remember this first night together. After all the songs fade away and the stage fades to gray.

As we were making our way out a stage hand from the band came over and asked Jillian if she had gotten an “official” Survivor Frankie Sullivan guitar pick.

After she told him that she didn’t he took one that he had gotten from the stage and handed it to her as if it might mean something.

Truthfully, it did.

9 thoughts on “Survivor: The Next Generation”

  1. as i read this, the smile never left my face. not only because i was standing next to you during the show and feeling all those same emotions, but because of the joy i find in the fact that you can share this whole experience with jilian.

    the last time i saw the band with jimi as lead was ’87. and though i’ve seen jimi a few times on his own, there is definitely a different vibe when jimi & frankie are on stage together.

    thanks for the nod, my friend…it was a great night.hope to do it again soon. Can anybody say “road trip”?


  2. I found myself thinking back to that “First Night” I saw them with REO. Still ranks as my best concert experience ever. Perhaps so because as a teen I connected with Vital Signs so well (and REO’s Wheel’s Are Turnin’ too). Both of those records came out at the perfect time for me.

    Prior to last night (and Danville) the last time I saw them with Jimi was at that show in 1985 so it was surreal for me.

    A road trip is a must for next time.

  3. For a Survivor freak who has never had the opportunity to see them in real life, you guys make it real for me. MTC

  4. It was some night that’s for sure! So moving to hear you describe seeing the show with Jillian. A father/daughter experience to be treasured forever! Great to see ya again, Jim.

    1. Honestly, the look she has on her face after the show was the same that was on me when I walked out of Stabler arena all those years ago.

  5. I saw them in ’85 with REO and had a blast. Even got a wave from JJ before the show. He was wearing the same jacket he has on in the Burning Heart video. They were fantastic! I saw JJ a few times and Survivor this past August. Lots of fun to see them again. JJ is my favorite and hope to see him many more times. Have some photos on Twitter but much more on Facebook, if you’re interested in seeing them.

  6. That is awesome about the guitar pick. What a nice closure to a wonderful day. I don’t suppose you remember where you got Jillian her shirt, do you? It would make an awesome gift to a family member of mine. =)

    1. We actually got the shirt at the show. They were selling them there. I remember they also used to have a “store” on their website where you could buy them, but I don’t see it there anymore. Good luck in your search.

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