Sharing thoughts about Taylor Hicks and concert travels and other musical musings!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Traveling Circus Has a Jolly Time in Sioux City

As the plane landed at the Sioux City airport, I quickly realized I was about to embark on a different kind of adventure. The airport has two gates with a small area for the ticket agents. And the baggage claim shares space with the car rental counters. It reminds me of the airport in the old TV show “Wings” except this airport was probably twice the size. And it’s run very well! TSA can be very proud!

On the ride to the hotel, I chatted with the driver, a young lady from the area. I wanted to know what the city was known for. Its history includes being on the Lewis and Clark expedition trails, a single casino on the river, skywalks between the downtown buildings, a meat processing plant, and a Jolly Time Popcorn plant. Sioux City is very spread out for a city with a population of 85 thousand. I was expecting bigger!

Tonight’s show was held in the Orpheum Theatre, one of several theatres in a chain. The front of the theatre, except for the marquee, looked like a regular building. The inside had been remodeled in the past few years, and was beautiful. The interior was simple yet elegant. Even the fixtures in the ladies room were gorgeous gold-gilded swan neck spout with swan head hot and cold knobs. There’s a picture in the album which is linked below!

Michael Warren opened the show. This two-man group consists of Michael W. on the guitar and vocals and Michael P. on the bongos and singing harmony or backup. The interaction between the two is chemistry! You can see it in their faces. The smiles and simple nods of the heads quickly let you know these two men have a special musical bond. Michael W. writes most of his own music, and gave us a sample of what he’s capable of doing. You have to hear him to appreciate him. After the entire concert was over, I went by the merchandise tables to have Michael sign my CDs that I’d bought earlier in the evening.

As you are aware, I generally only listen to Taylor, and sometimes a bit of LiMBO. Now I’m adding Michael W. to the mix! While we chatted about the show, I let him quickly know that I enjoyed him over the Greyhounds! I made a joke about thinking I needed to let the rabbits out so they would go away. Michael got the joke immediately and laughed! (OK, for those not familiar with greyhound racing, a fake rabbit is sent around the track for the dogs to chase!)

Michael has great stage presence and can get an audience laughing at his jokes. Perhaps it’s because he is African-American or from the South. You can’t help but enjoy his show! Let’s see….he mentioned that being from Birmingham, he did own shoes, and that you could now get boots there! There were other similar remarks but they escape me right now.

After the set change, the current Taylor Hicks Band took the stage during the “Goldfinger” intro. They played their own opening number, and Taylor Hicks took the stage! Black jacket, black shirt, light blue jeans and trademark sneakers. Taylor was hot tonight! Hotter than I’d seen him since the second Birmingham show!

I don’t know if it was the Iowa air or what. Maybe Taylor’s allergies were in check because there was no pollen as had been the case the past several weeks. Whatever it was, Taylor looked great and performed as if he’d never been sick a day in his life! His performance could be summed as ‘the roadrunner meets the energizer bunny’ – Taylor was constantly moving, energetically, effortlessly.

The speakers were right in front of me so I was expecting to have distorted sound. Not tonight. Taylor’s voice was very clear and strong. If he’d been on recent voice rest, you’d never have known it! This was going to be a memorable performance!

I need to tell you about the audience. The audience covered all demographics – young, middle-aged, older, male and female. In front of me sat two men that appeared to be father and son. No mother or sisters were present. The seats beside me were empty and a couple of young women who had balcony seats came down and took them! They danced the entire time and one kept yelling that she loved Taylor! I thought I saw wedding rings on the hand of both ladies! What am I talking about! I’m a middle-aged, white-haired grandmother! I just wasn’t yelling out anything more than a few “whoo’s!”

Now one of the young women had turned to me and made a comment about Taylor slinging sweat. I tapped the older gentleman in front of me and said that should it ‘start raining inside the theatre, I’d be happy to change seats with him!’ His response was quite simple, “Thanks, but I’ll just put on a raincoat!” So much for my getting his front seat!

I must confess, my second row seat was great! It was probably only 6 feet from the stage! When you check out my pictures (link below), you’ll be able to see how close I was because the pictures are great! Lots of really good close-ups!

Going back to the show. Taylor opened with “Soul Thing”, one of his own original songs. The energy was high and he was dancing all over the place! The lights were just right. Next we got “Give Me Tonight” and “Gonna Move”. Taylor had not stopped except to take a few sips of his bottled water. Got to keep those beautiful pipes wet, you know!

Moving between his own original music and his current album, Taylor maintained his high energy level, never slowing down or faltering. He generally played guitar for his original music and sans guitar with the current album. It’s become kind of a sign for me as to what may be coming up next.

Taylor bantered with the audience, thanking us for voting. He told us he had voted as well! And occasionally for other contestants, just not too many times! Now I don’t what the real truth is, and I don’t really care! It’s just fun to imagine Taylor speed dialing after each show, voting for himself, and maybe one or two others! I wonder if he phoned or text-messaged?!?!?!?!

After “Compared to What” and “Heart and Soul”, Taylor really blew it all out. The lights went pink and purple which distorts his features on film. But the song was incredible! It was Hall and Oates, “She’s Gone”! Oh, my gosh! What a fantastic song for Taylor to do! “She’s gone…..” I was definitely gone afterwards!

“The Right Place”, and yes I was there, “Heaven Knows”, and it sure does, and “The Maze”, which I wouldn’t want to find my way out of at the moment, rounded out the show. Taylor thanked us for coming and left the stage. So did the rest of the band.

But they returned to the stage the quickest I’d ever seen! The finale would be “The Runaround” which Taylor certainly had not been giving us all evening! Some harp at the end and as Taylor was walking off the stage, tapped his imaginary watch to tell the band it was time to go and gave us a peak as the black band he wears as a reminder to himself. Heads nodded, and Taylor continued to tap his wrist. After a few more seconds of this, Taylor was officially gone. The show was over.

As I mentioned earlier, I stopped by the merchandise tables and spoke with Michael W. I finished my conversation, got my picture taken, and then decided to check out the bus scene. Several of us tried to stand near the door to Taylor’s bus, but security moved us back behind the ‘blue’ bus. Our wait was soon rewarded. A number of ladies (well most were ladies there) got autographs. I stood back just taking pictures. It was magical and then it was over. Only pictures for me tonight which was just fine!

For a Saturday night show, the performance started at 7:30. That’s because the skywalks close about 30 minutes after a show ends. No one wants to get trapped in the skywalks, which I can best describe as a maze. I got lost and had to go back to the hotel lobby to call a cab. Also, the city streets close up early in Sioux City so the city folk can sleep. Perhaps it’s because the area is rural. I don’t know. I do know that this show for me, was incredible, and is now second only to the Sunday night Birmingham show!

Yes, Taylor Hicks, you gave the Soul Patrol one heck of a Saturday night! You ride into town on your shiny rented bus, you thrill us with meet and greets, planned and spontaneous, and your energy level rivals only the energizer bunny! Tonight you were in true Taylor Hicks form and you gave it everything you had. I was so glad I made those arrangements last week to be there! Great show! And thanks for memories! I’ll need them to get me through the next two weeks until I see you at The Foxwoods!

Until then, check back often, gentle readers. I have a few special surprises in store that you don’t want to miss. A couple of interviews and a chance to meet a very special group of Taylor fans. See you then!


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Some of My Favorite Pictures