People stand shoulder to shoulder. They hang over a second floor balcony. They crowd the center dance floor pressing the stage. These men and women stand in their twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, sixties and even seventies. They range from business suits with the tie loosen around the neck to blue jeans. Together they call themselves Donnie Iris fans.
Their focus is the core of energy emitted from five members on the stage. At the center is Donnie to his right on is Paul Goll on bass and Marty Lee Hoenes on lead guitar. To his left on keyboards is Marc Avsec and behind him with a pulsating beat on drums is Mark Tirabassi. Together these men are Donnie Iris and the Cruisers.
Most of the fans here tonight have never played on a stage nor can they play a musical instrument for matter. But it doesn’t hinder their love and appreciate for the music.
The band and the fans share something that can only be witnessed in the moment of a live concert. The music serves as the bond between them. No video gear, camera or sound recording can capture the essence of this moment. It’s like trying to capture life in a bottle. Even writing about it is nothing in comparison to feeling it.
Music is the human soul communicating in ways words can’t express. It inspires comforts and heals. Two souls can be connecting through music without a single word ever being spoken. The only requirement to understanding music is to be human.
When Donnie and the Cruisers put on a concert they are sharing their love of music. Their fans, who absorb it, create their own energy which, in turn, goes back to feed the band. It’s a positively reinforced system of human expression.
What makes this a packed venue is Donnie’s style. He’s a down to earth person who hasn’t been corrupted by his success and fame. Donnie’s a rocker who loves his fans and loves his city. It’s visible in the smile he has the entire concert. You can feel it when he sings. You can sense his feel-good, positive attitude.
The fans want that feel-good attitude. They’ve worked all day. They come to see Donnie and listen to his music as way to forget about the world around them. They’re looking for someone to escape with and Donnie and his music are beacons of optimism.
That’s what this moment is about. Leaving the cares and worries behind and reaching out to enjoy life while it’s here for the taking.
Everyone comes out to see Donnie when he plays. Fellow musicians join him such as Joe Grushecky on guitar. Together they start their jam session with the Rolling Stone’s “Gimme Me Shelter.” Even the mayor of Pittsburgh comes out to join the band onstage backing them with vocals on “Love is Like a Rock.” Who says you can’t depend on politicians.
It’s good honest fun for both the band and the fans. There’s such a good vibe in the environment you hate to see it come to a close.
If you missed the show you need to check Donnie’s website to find out when he’s playing next. If you were at the show, you’ve already purchased tickets for the next one because one Donnie Iris concert just isn’t enough.