The Park City Chamber of Commerce couldn't have ordered a better kickoff for the summer season - green mountains for a backdrop, a Friday night made for lovers, a troubadour in fine voice and a crowd primed for a great time.
Dan Fogelberg was acoustical enchantment. From the sounds of Irish folk music of the opening group "Magical Strings," to the last lingering piano chords of "Auld Lang Syne," Fogelberg had orchestrated a magical evening. The lighting was simple, never distracting from the music. Only the cue for his synthesizer misfired and that was remedied by more guitar. Even the rowdy fans who had come mainly to party, were soon subdued by the spell being woven though the nippy ParkWest air.Fogelberg greeted his 5,000 fans with the quip, "I've been sitting here waiting for you!" From the immediate laughter, many of the audience had closed out summer of 1987 with him. He then told the crowd, "Since I was closing it last year and opening it this year, I thought I'd take out the acoustic instruments and just come myself." The crowd roared their approval and Fogelberg put his music where his mouth was for the rest of the evening.
The dedicated Fogelberg fans who came to sing along with personal favorites were not disappointed and found themselves hearing "Lonely in Love," "How Do We Make Love Stay?" "Run for the Roses" and "Leader of the Band" sung in a slightly different manner - somehow slower, more poignant and so very personal as though Fogelberg was letting each listener in on the real, deep emotions he was experiencing.
But the real treat came through the Fogelberg fingers - sliding and singing on the strings of his guitar or deliberating through a melancholy "Paris Nocturne" on the grand piano.
When he got down and blue, his "My woman up and left me for some other some other guy," came rasping out with soul from a depth the easy-listening crowd wasn't prepared for. "It's that time again . . . " Fogelberg teased, "Bluuues time." And then he made the guitar tell how bad it feels to be `runnin' down that highway.'
Introducing a new song, Fogelberg sang his "Forefathers" composition that chronicled Scandinavian ancestors and told how "the torch is passed from hand to hand." By the time he got to "Leader of the Band" with its "And Papa I don't think I said I love you near enough . . . " he could have split the stock for Hallmark for Father's Day.
His finale crept up on the crowd. Taking the long way to set up "Part of the Plan," Fogelberg left enough pauses between wild chords to keep the audience holding their breath. By the time he made a quick left turn into the familiar chords of `Plan' the roar of recognition was delightful. And of course no one wanted to leave until "Auld Lang Syne" pronounced the benediction. This, too, was softer, with lingering on " . . . the snow turned into rain . . . " that made everyone remember how it felt to be 17 again with someone driving away who wouldn't be coming back.
And that's what makes Dan Fogelberg so incredible - the ability to pull those emotions we like to keep buttoned-down right up before our very eyes and ringing through our ears with painful and poignant clarity.