Smiling faces get front-row seats

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Tom Miller
Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Never discount what a smile can do.

For five Janesville friends, smiles transformed “Uecker seats” at the Paul McCartney concert at Milwaukee's Miller Park to front-row and second-row accommodations.

Alyson Dilley, Brittany Disrude, Megan Pohl and Kelly Fanning were part of a group of 12 Janesville fans who were on a bus trip organized by Jake Sailing to the McCartney concert July 16.

Sailing owns a minibus and had bought 12 tickets in two different sections in the fourth level of Miller Park.

The fun began when part of the group—including the four young women—got to the 400 level.

While stopping at a beer vender in the concourse, the group of women was approached by a man who offered to upgrade their tickets.

“He basically said, 'You look like you like to have a good time, like to smile and dance,'” Fanning said of the man's introduction. “Well, of course.”

The man said he would upgrade their tickets to the front section if they would promise to have a good time during the concert.

“I thought it was joke until he pulled out the tickets,” Dilley said.

“I thought we were being punked,” Fanning said.

Sailing had been trying to organize the group, which had separated to get food or hit the restrooms. He reached the negotiations a few moments later.

Here was the catch: The offer was limited to five tickets, and it was obvious the four women had to be included in the group.

Sailing got the fifth ticket.

“I tried to get the guy to upgrade the other people,” Sailing said. “He said, 'Sorry, it's not that type of deal. It's all or nothing.'”

The five stunned friends received their tickets and headed to the field.

“He said he needed to fill the front area with smiling faces,” Sailing said.

When the group saw where their “guest” tickets were, keeping a smile wasn't difficult.

Three of the tickets were for the front row, center stage. The two others were second row, center stage.

Dilley asked two other groups around them how they obtained their tickets. They had the same deal as the Janesville group.

Some of the center-stage fans were older, and there were families in the group. But the Janesville fivesome stood out, Sailing said.

“I don't think anyone was more energetic,” he said. “We were the most pumped.”

Sailing believes the concert tour is being filmed for a documentary, and that is the reason smiling faces were needed front and center.

For Fanning, the concert turned into an emotional event. When McCartney appeared onstage—about an hour after the scheduled 8 p.m. start due to traffic jams that delayed fans—Fanning's thoughts turned to her father.

Richard Fanning died last September from cancer.

“He was a huge music buff,” Fanning said. “He loved all rock 'n' roll.”

Until McCartney appeared, Fanning had been thinking how lucky the group had been to get front-row seats.

“What are the odds of being at the right place at the right time?” she said. “Then when he played the first note of 'Eight Days a Week,' I got pretty emotional.”

Fanning cried for much of the concert, thinking of her father.

The 2 1/2-hour concert will be something she'll always remember.

“It was definitely unforgettable,” Fanning said.

The rest of the group echoed that.

 “I'm not a Paul McCartney fan, but I love music, all types of music,” Sailing said. “It definitely was a bucket-list type of moment. Getting that close up, and the way we got it, is a memorable thing.”

“I'll definitely remember this for the rest of my life,” Dilley said.

“Sometimes good things happen to the little people.”

Especially those with smiles on their faces.

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