November 6, 1998 marked the second time I saw Petra in concert this year, as well as the first time I met members of the band in person!
It was a very exciting evening. I took lots of pictures and wrote a review of the concert. This review is not like my previous review, and actually is geared toward a non-Petra-friendly audience. But if you read it, it will give you a good idea of why I liked the St. Louis concert even more than I did the Kansas City concert.
I decided to write the story of my face-to-face encounter and put it here for you to see. I hope you enjoy it!
Wow. I sure have a story to tell you!
Shortly after God Fixation came out and I had assembled a little new webpage called "Petra Rocks My World!", I found a listing of upcoming Petra concerts. To my delight, there were two Missouri dates: Kansas City, and St. Louis. I hadn't seen Petra in concert since their Beyond Belief tour, which was long ago. I had almost seen them last year, but that trip fell through and I wasn't able to go.
This year was different. I was able to go to Kansas City to see them, and that was a blast. After the KC concert was over and but a memory, I began to make my plans for the St. Louis concert.
To make a long story short, I talked with some of the local people setting up the concert to try and get a promotional poster or something I could hang in my room. To my dismay (at first), the promotional posters were not like photo posters... Definitely not the sort of thing I had mind. Instead, I agreed to help them put up posters around my area of town: on my college campus, at schoo, in bookstores, anyplace I could think. To my surprise, they gave me free tickets to the concert as a way of saying thank-you! That was Big Blessing Number One.
Big Blessing Number Two came more than a month later, only a week or so before the concert. I received some email from Rick Muze, Petra's road manager. He had just visited "Petra Rocks My World!" and read that I was planning to go to the St. Louis concert. So, he wrote to me and offered to let me come backstage. I definitely took him up on it!
The night of the show was fantastic. Just before it was scheduled to begin, Rick came on stage and asked for any youth pastors or youth workers to head downstairs. Then he called for "the Kansas City webpage guy." I yelled to him from my front-row-way-on-the-right-hand-side seats and followed them downstairs.
I should probably mention at this point that I was not at the concert alone. I attended with my parents, my littlest brother Jon, and my good friend John. Dad, Jon, John and I all went downstairs and found Lonnie messing around with someone. He told everyone who was arriving that he had no idea where Schlitt was, but that he should be right there.
And true to Lonnie's word, John Schlitt showed up soon after. Kevin Brandow came, some people from Broomtree, as well as Jeni Varnadeau and people from her band. Louie Weaver showed up a little later, too.
John basically talked to everyone about his appreciation for what they do as youth ministers, Petra's vision for ministry and uncompromising stance toward presenting the gospel through rock music, and a little about some of the trials Petra has faced recently.
After he finished addressing the group, Rick introduced me as the webpage guy to Kevin Brandow and we talked. Kevin asked me if he had seen my page, and I told him he had. Not long ago, Kevin sent me an email and let a message on my guestbook, which had thrilled me. But those messages weren't half the thrill of getting to talk to Kevin in person. He was a nice guy, and I was glad to meet him. As you can see on the pictures page, I am also taller than he is. :)
I have saved the best for last, though. While I am sure some of you may have met John Schlitt before (certainly he has met thousands of fans over the years), it was a first for me. He was every bit as happy and exuberant as he is on stage. We briefly talked about my webpage and spent some time talking about the general perception of Petra. Obviously he's heard a lot of the mixed reaction to God Fixation and I told him what I thought about it. He thanked me for sticking with Petra and for the webpage and stuff, and told me that if I had enjoyed the Kansas City concert, I would really love the concert tonight.
Boy, he sure was right.