A couple Pointers

Craig with the legendary Anita Pointer

I saw the Pointer Sisters concert on Saturday night at the Canadian National Exhibition Bandshell. The show was scheduled to begin at 7.30, and since this was my Saturday to work (until 5.00) I asked if I could leave an hour early in order to ensure that I got good seats.

I arrived at the Bandshell at 5.10 and all the front rows were occupied or reserved for friends of the occupants who would be arriving later. Had I arrived around 3 p.m. I could have been sitting there with them. It wasn’t bad at all sitting in the second row, and I was able to reserve four spots for my mother, brother, sister-in-law and boyfriend who would be arriving later.

In the hope that I would be able to meet the Pointers I brought two 12″ jackets for Anita’s solo album Love For What It is, and the EP “Friends’ Advice (Don’t Take It)” plus a stack of CD booklets. I would be lucky if I could just get one thing autographed; I brought everything that I did if in my wildest dreams I was able to spend some time with them.

The show started about ten minutes late, and the set list did not differ much from the track listing on their latest in-concert DVD:

“He’s So Shy”
“Slow Hand”
“Chain of Fools” (where we got to hear Sadako sing solo for a portion of the song)
Pointer rap
“How Long (Betcha Got a Chick on the Side)”/”Yes We Can Can” medley
“Dare Me”
Band introduction / Pointer wardrobe change
“I’m So Excited”
“Neutron Dance”
“Jump (For My Love)” encore

The audience was not permitted to rush the stage, which was a good thing for those who came in the middle of the afternoon in order to get front-row seats. Nothing more annoying than to “camp out” for front-row seats only to have everyone crowd your view. Security, and even on-duty police officers, kept everyone at bay. Those who did rush the stage could only snap a quick photo then were asked, sometimes escorted, back to their seats.

My mother took many photos with her digital camera and two people who were sitting in the front row, with whom we chatted before the show, offered one of us to sit up with them since they had so much room. I gave my mother the opportunity to sit up front. It had more to do with her being so much shorter than me and wanting her to have a clear view of the stage, but in the end it was better for her to sit up there because she had an unobstructed position to take photos from.

My favourite song of all was “Fairytale”. Anita and Bonnie Pointer wrote this song and it won the Grammy Award for best Country Song By A Duo Or Group (!) in 1975. Many people do not realize that the Pointer Sisters were all over the musical map when they first started out and they were award-winning, and Grand Ole Opry-playing superstars before they crossed over into pop. I sang along and rocked from side to side to “Fairytale”. It surely is a “forgotten” Pointer classic as everyone in the audience it seemed was only familiar with the songs from the Energy album (1978) onward.

After the concert we were allowed to rush the stage and some people were waving their album covers above their heads. The Pointers saw this and security grabbed these LP jackets and handed them to Ruth, Anita and Sadako on stage. When I saw that people were getting autographs I took my two sleeves from my bag and held them above my head.

Anita saw Love For What It Is and she held her hand to her heart, mouthed a big “Thank-you!” to me several times and took a bow. I handed it to someone from security and she signed a big “Love Anita Pointer” for me. She then handed it to Ruth, who signed it “Ruth Pointer (sister)”. I laughed about the way Ruth signed it all night.

I also held up the EP sleeve for “Friends’ Advice (Don’t Take It)” and Ruth saw it first. She smiled brightly, as though she couldn’t believe it. I must admit, I chose these two sleeves on purpose, as I wanted to grab Anita and Ruth’s attention, and in order to do that I had to bring something different from the many Break Out, Contact and Energy sleeves I was expecting to see in the audience. All three Pointers signed my EP sleeve.

Ruth, Anita and Sadako left the stage and I hung around the backstage area in the hope of meeting them. It was a very weird experience being there as I was surrounded by way more autograph-seekers than fans. No one knew which Pointer was which, or which Pointer’s granddaughter was Sadako, or even (sadly) which Pointer recently died. I got the idea that these people were only there to get an autograph to add to their collections, or worse, to sell. I certainly felt alone in being a Loyal Friend And True.

It even felt creepy being backstage, as I felt surrounded by middle-aged closet-cases who were each trying to impress everyone else with tales of their vast autograph collections. Some guy even bragged about having Michael Jackson’s autograph signed *before* they even had their first record out. I could only roll my eyes.

I had the feeling that the Pointers were still backstage as the police and Bandshell security officers were still there. After an hour wait, the crowd had reduced by two thirds and it was a much tamer, “manageable” group. Ruth, Anita and Sadako came out and signed autographs, chatted and posed for many pictures. I was so thrilled and thankful to get pictures with Anita and Ruth. Thanks mom for bringing your camera! The picture I have posted is with me and Anita Pointer.

Anita and I talked about her solo album, Love For What It Is, which is a favourite of mine, a forgotten musical gem from 1987. I told her my favourite song off it was “Temporarily Blue”. She also autographed my CD booklet of it. I was able to get five CD booklets signed (out of twelve that I had brought) but I didn’t want to appear too greedy in handing over all of them (although some might say five was way too greedy).

I told Ruth that my favourite Pointer single of all time was “don’t walk away” (all lowercase) and she couldn’t believe it. It’s true! I also said that “Translation”, relegated to a B-side, was one of my favourite songs as well.

It’s hard now to remember everything we talked about but I do know I said a lot of “thank-you’s” as I got autographs and photos with them. I can’t believe I finally got to see the Pointers in concert, meet and chat with them!

It pays to be prepared when you are hoping to get autographs. Bring a pen with you! I brought two black Sharpie pens and lent them often to Ruth and Anita who kept on coming to me to hand the pens back. I suppose I could have just let them use the pens till they were ready to go, but Anita or Ruth would often say “Whose pen is this?” and then hand it back to me. Someone even wanted Anita and Ruth to sign his sports ball, and handed Anita a ballpoint pen. Anita said that she couldn’t sign the ball, which had a dimply texture, with a ballpoint. I overheard this and out came my thick Sharpie again. I think that most autographs that night were signed with my two pens.

Anita, Ruth and Sadako were all smiles and never turned down a fan’s request for a photo. They had the patience of saints, and smiles that never faltered. I was so happy to see them at last.

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