Growing up a kid in the ’80s, Kenny Loggins to me was simply “the movie soundtrack guy,” as faceless in my mind as the famous “voiceover guy” for all of the big movie trailers back in the day. Of course it wasn’t until later in life I started realizing these were actual people with lives that I never gave much consideration to, with many other artists such as Loggins eventually becoming more human to me.
Reading his book I discovered even more about him than I ever expected to, perhaps even a bit more than necessary if I’m being honest (Loggins’ memoir is a tad more detailed than many others I’ve read in the past, often teetering on the brink of boredom). In fact, I nearly forgot completely that he experienced his first success prior to being a solo artist with Loggins & Messina, and had even written/co-written such classics as “Your Mama Don’t Dance” and “Danny’s Song.”
Loggins goes over every chapter of his life’s journey without missing a single note, sharing with audiences all of the highs and lows that come along with pop stardom. At times it’s a fascinating ride, while at other moments you want the point to be reached already (and on a side note, I think Loggins and I are complete opposites as far as politics are concerned, not surprising).
But I have to give thanks where it’s due; if not for hearing that opening guitar riff from “Danger Zone” the first time I saw Top Gun all those years ago, I might never have fallen in love with rock music the way I did (okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but it was a definite mind/eye-opening moment for me nonetheless). If you’ve ever felt remotely the same about Loggins’ music, you’ll likely enjoy the ride as well.
Tom Cruise returns as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell and director Joseph Kosinski takes over for the late Tony Scott (whom the film is dedicated to) to deliver the long-awaited sequel to the 1986 blockbuster Top Gun. And unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably already well aware of what an all out thrill ride Top Gun: Maverick truly is.
Kenny Loggins’ hit from the original film “Danger Zone” opens the film the only appropriate way possible, as we quickly find our protagonist still working as a test pilot in the U.S. Navy, purposely avoiding promotions all these years in order to continue flying. But he’s quickly whisked away back to Top Gun to train a group of elite pilots for a specialized mission that ultimately only he can pull off.
Initially, my only complaint was the actual establishments of said new pilots – who come off just a tad on the obnoxious side at first – and the quick pace we’re introduced to new characters as though we already know them (the lovely Jennifer Connelly plays a former love interest perfectly, though). But once the awkwardness passes, it’s pure escapist entertainment of the highest level, filled with plenty of action, and unexpected drama (no spoilers, but the scenes with Val Kilmer, who briefly reprises his role as Tom “Iceman” Kazansky from the first film, really got me).
In this entry, Maverick not only faces adversaries in the sky, but several on his own team, having to prove himself not only to an admiral (Jon Hamm) who doesn’t want him there, but the son (Miles Teller) of his former late RIO and best friend from the first film, Goose (Anthony Edwards).
Forget whatever negativity the anti-establishment, blue-haired “critics” out there might want to spew about this being a “recruitment” video (they’re just miserable with their lives anyway); this is a damn good film that brings back the days of when movies were actual “events,” and I felt like that kid in the ’80s again, popping his copy of the first film in the VCR to re-watch it again for the umpteenth time). Cruise is at the top of his game in Top Gun: Maverick, and you’re missing out if you don’t take flight along with him.
I really didn’t have intentions of going to yet another Garden Rocks concert at Epcot this past Saturday, April 30. But my wife/photographer Brooke insisted we each meet there after our schedules aligned, and I’m glad we did (ironically, I ended up seeing the whole show while she missed a good portion of it!). And truth be told, I didn’t even know much of Berlin’s material until I first met said lovely wife of mine roughly a decade ago.
The band took the stage right at 8:00pm (for the sixth and final time of the weekend according to singer Terri Nunn) opening their short set with “Masquerade.” More fan favorites like “No More Words,” “The Metro,” and the newer “Animal” continued the show before Nunn slowed things down a bit to tell a brief but teary-eyed story about meeting Walt Disney in person when she was a child.
This tender moment segued into the group’s most well-known hit, the synth-pop ballad “Take My Breath Away” from the 1986 Tom Cruise blockbuster Top Gun, which of course the crowd ate up with more than just a little bit of delight (and on a side note, I often point to said film as the movie that really “awakened” me to rock music with its soundtrack, so on a personal level it was great seeing another band that performed on it live, with Cheap Trick and Loverboy being the other two).
But it didn’t end there; a high octane cover of The Cult’s “She Sells Sanctuary” gave Nunn an excuse to run from the stage into the audience and continue singing among a stunned, ecstatic crowd. For the finale, bassist John Crawford put down his four-string to duet with Nunn on a PG-rated version of “Sex (I’m A…),” which if I’m not mistaken, contained some alternate, Disney-inspired lyrics to better suite the atmosphere.
After this, all of the band members gathered arm-in-arm on stage to take a gracious bow. It was a fitting, classy goodbye to an already appreciative audience, and a night few in attendance are likely to forget anytime soon. The only downfall of the entire evening? The lone young lady thrashing herself next to us and hitting us with her hair the entire time. A word of advice in the off-chance she’s reading this; when at a concert, have some courtesy for those near you, because you never know if those people next to are actually there to get coverage (like this) of the show for you.