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

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Traveling Circus May Be Sleepless But It Wants Moore After Seattle

The day Taylor Hicks was looking forward to and the one I hated to see arrive was finally here. The last day of the Taylor Hicks 2007 Whomp Tour. The tour of 55 shows in 52 cities was coming to a close in Seattle at the Moore Theatre. I had been to almost half of them, tonight being number 24! What must I have been thinking when I booked all of these trips? Did I really do this? Had I really been to this many shows? Yes, just count the blog recaps to prove it! And now it was ending.

My little group of circus clowns woke up early Saturday morning so we would have plenty of time to dress and drive from Portland to Seattle. With five women in two rooms with two bathrooms we needed all the time we could get! The ringleader in the other room decided to go get come coffee and muffins for us. Thank goodness! I don’t think I could have gotten ready without some nourishment, much less have attempted to jump through any hoops!

As I got ready to leave Portland, I started to feel a bit nostalgic about my adventures. I’llve rolled up the tent in many a city, boarded a few planes to get from one point to another, rented a few cars along the way, and wondered just what all this had cost. Never mind, that’s what VISA and MasterCard are for – and why I work full-time when I’m not on the road. But somewhere along the way, I decided I could have gone on a two-week exotic cruise for the same amount of money, but I would never have meet all the Soul Patrol members that I had nor seen all the beautiful theatres and cities I visited.

I recall reading where one husband shook Taylor’s hand because he wanted to meet the man ‘that was taking his wife and money all over the country’! I suppose my banker would like to do the same thing! All I can say, I’m spending my daughter’s inheritance and having a ball in the process!

We loaded up the car and headed north (at least that’s the direction I think we took!) for Seattle. The mountain ranges were beautiful in the background. I pulled out my trusty camera and took pictures as we drove along the interstate. A few farms, a couple of streams, a lake or two, pines trees in several species, and some yellow bushy flowers along the way made the drive peaceful and enjoyable. Since I wasn’t driving, I knew we wouldn’t get lost. Keep in mind, I’m directionally challenged and tend to get lost easily.

After a few of hours we were in Seattle. We drove by the Moore Theatre and saw the Moore Hotel. We weren’t staying there, and when we had trouble finding our hotel, we called to see if they had any rooms available. We might as well walk to the theatre. I should have realized when I saw the windows were open that there might not be any central air conditioning. When we were looking for places to pitch our tents for the night, I recall reading that guests might have to share bathrooms, and that’s not my idea of fun! So I didn’t book there.

After a couple of phone calls to our hotel, we found it at the bottom of the city near the waterfront. When I say bottom, think of the streets of San Francisco that make you think you are on a roller coaster ride – well that’s the way it was getting to our hotel! One big roller coaster that went straight down hill with narrow landings at each light. Please, brakes, don’t fail us now! We checked in and decided we needed to take a nap. Thank goodness, because it was going to be a long night!

The doors were scheduled to open at 7:00 and we wanted to eat dinner before we went in. There was this dive of a bar three or four down from the theatre so we went there to grab something quick. The food was good, service a bit slow, and refills came for a price. But the fireplace was burning and provided much needed warmth. It was windy and cold outside, and I didn’t bring a sweatshirt or jacket. Of course later in the night I would ask someone to “please break the wind for me” when what I really wanted was for them to shield me from the wind! My bad! I must have been tired for that slip of the tongue to happen. But then, what could I expect when I’m part of the traveling circus of fans that have followed Taylor Hicks all over the US for the past three months!

By the time we finished eating and walked back to the Moore Theatre, the doors were open and we could go in to find our seats. Earlier in the week I had visited TicketMaster and found a couple of front row seats at regular price. I wanted to be close to the stage for the last show, so I bought them. The seating chart indicated I might be a couple of rows back because of VIP seating, but alas, wrong picture! I was on the front row, dead center! What a coup!

The opening montage started right at 8:00. Brian Less introduced Taylor Hicks and the crowd rose to its collective feet clapping and cheering! Taylor comes out waving to the crowd and immediately started singing his own original song, “Soul Thing”. Thanks Taylor for doing that song!

The opening song was followed by “Give Me Tonight”. The audience was quite willing to do so and any other night Taylor wanted as well! Strap on a guitar, and “Hell of a Day” tagged with “Another Brick in the Wall” was next. For Taylor and the traveling circus, the Whomp tour was one hell of a tour, and now the tour was closing. When it was time to give up the guitar, Taylor was playing with Ted (the guy on stage in the red cap who always hands Taylor the guitar) by running away from him. Ted made several attempts to get the guitar, but Taylor kept moving away from him. Not to be outdone, Ted took the microphone. Finally the game ended and Taylor gave up the guitar and took the mike! It was nice to see the guys having some fun on the last night!

Time to cure all ills with “Medicated Goo” and lots of cowbell! As Taylor was singing, he walked over and helped Melanie with her drums and bongos. At one point he mistook her backside for the drums – oh wait, that was deliberate! Now that we were feeling no pain, we get Taylor’s current single, “Just to Feel That Way”. Yes, we were feeling it too! Taylor was smiling and dancing the entire time! He was definitely happy and giving us the best he had to give. The circus was going to close with its best performance to date!

There were times when Taylor would dance around and go behind the stage. Some chatting with the audience reminded us that tonight was the last show of the tour. And that the next tour started in 48 hours! Whooo! The circus will travel this summer! Don’t put away the suitcases just yet!

A couple of original songs from Taylor’s pre-Idol independent CD, “My Friend”, “The Deal”, and “Hold On to Your Love” were performed. The audience really seems to connect and enjoy Taylor’s original music. I must confess, so do I, but then, Taylor could probably sing the alphabet, and I’d like that just as much! He has such a soothing soulful voice, a whiskey tenor sound that keeps one begging for more!

A few tags get interspersed. Part of “Jump in the Line”, “The Tide is High” and “Ain’t it Funny How Times Slips Away”. Sure is funny – the concert tour has ended in the fastest three months I’ve seen. Perhaps because we’re having fun. Perhaps because I’m getting older that time just seems to fly. Whatever, the tour was winding down tonight. And Taylor was on fire, giving us the best performance since the tour began.

A couple of covers, “Compared to What” and “Long Train Running” gave us a fast paced and harp-blowing Taylor. He was all over the place. Dancing from one side to the other, stopping in the middle of the stage for the center section to get a better view. That was how Taylor was performing tonight. I was glad I had center front row seats. I was getting lots of time up close and personal, well up close really, with Taylor as he gave the best performance of the tour.

Back to Taylor’s self-titled CD for “Heaven Knows”, “The Maze”, “The Right Place” and “The Runaround”. Ah, funk, soul, rock ‘n roll, and happiness! A great combination! Even the tags were great – “What’d I Say”, “Maybelline”, “Angel from Montgomery”, “Mama Said (There’d Be Days Like This)”, “Dust My Broom” and “Big Boss Man”. Also some comic relief!

When Taylor introduced “The Right Place”, he pretended not to remember the title of the song! He just pointed to his head and waited a few seconds! He also did a guitar jam with Josh and Al! What versatility Taylor has!

As “The Runaround” was ending, Taylor was saluting the individual members of the band. He brought out the stage crew, Ted, Tim, Bill, Chris and the sound board guy that is seldom seen. They took their bows as the band continued to play. Taylor was acknowledging everyone that helped stage the show each night. Tonight was our night to meet everyone that we hadn’t met before.

As the stage is set for the encore, a stool is brought out. The stool is the sign for a Taylor solo with just his guitar and the audience. Ah, Taylor’s original music, “The Fall”, a song he wrote when he was 19! His talent was just beginning! As Taylor sang, you could have ‘heard a pin drop’ as the theatre was so quite except for a few cheers and an occasional “we love you, Taylor”. Pure ecstasy, I tell you! And I had tears rolling down my cheeks as Taylor sang. I think most of the audience did too!

When the song ended, Taylor gave up the guitar and the band returned to the stage and their places. Loren started the familiar notes. What?!?! “Do I Make You Proud”! If I had placed a bet, it would have been any song other than that one! We had not heard that song for the entire tour! I was expecting “Placed I’ve Been” but no, we get “Do I Make You Proud”. Well, yes, Taylor, you sure do make us proud!

After a few bars, Melanie steps up to the center and starts singing “Dancing Queen”! “Dancing Queen”? What a choice! Taylor is a dancing maniac now. He’s doing all sorts of moves with Melanie, including a hula-belly dance! Whooo! The audience is going wild! The cheers, the applause! This was fantastic to witness! And then back to “Do I Make You Proud” to finish out the encore.

During one of the guitar jams, Josh is really on fire! He puts the guitar behind his head to play. And then he plays it with his teeth! We hadn't had the pleasure of that kind of show the entire tour! Even Al was all over the stage doing his boogie dance!

Taylor leaves the stage waving but stops just out of sight. He comes back and holds up a single finger – one more song! A second encore! “Badge”! We’re going down in flames tonight! The circus is going to close with a bang! And then it was over. Taylor left the stage for good, the band walked away, the lights came on and the stage crew started breaking down the instruments and set. The tour was officially over. And Seattle saw the final show!

We left the theatre and gathered outside to see if Taylor would come out. It was cold and windy. Most of us there weren’t prepared for the cold. After all, most of the tour had been in the south or warmer east and west coast. I even asked the cab driver on the way back to the hotel if it was supposed to snow, it felt that cold to me! We waited for a bit, and then decided to cross the street to have dinner.

As we looked over the menus, we could see the crowd near the alley get excited! Taylor and company came from the alley and walked up the sidewalk, going through the middle of the small crowd. Taylor was pulling his own rolling suitcase behind him! He must have signaled something because the crowd remained after Taylor disappeared.

All of a sudden, the crowd was getting excited and we could see a flashlight over a tall young man wearing a gray flannel toboggan style cap. Taylor had come back to sign autographs before leaving the concert area!

Now what do think was about to happen? A couple of us jumped up from the table, took our show souvenirs (I had the drum stick that Taylor used to play the cowbell – don’t ask, I won’t tell!) and ran across the street to join the clamoring crowd. As I walked up, Bill (who was holding the flashlight) saw me and called out to Taylor, “hey Taylor, you need to sign something for Mandy because she had followed you all over the country!” With that, Taylor reached out, turned me around, and signed my shirt!

When I regained my composure, I realized he had signed my shirt but not the drumstick! I told Taylor it was the drumstick I wanted signed, and he signed it! I later had to ask my companions what really happened because it happened so fast! Taylor had turned me around so he could sign my shirt! Don’t worry, folks, he signed the back!

As we were leaving to go back to the restaurant (the remaining group was still at the table watching us and probably laughing), one lady suggested that we yell out “we love you, Taylor” on the count of three. We broke out of our huddle, counted to three, and yelled out “We Love You, Taylor” and quickly turned around and ran across the street like a bunch of 10-year old girls. No one looked back to see what happened. We were too busy giggling! And we ranged in age from forty-ish to whatever! But we were too excited and happy to care!

We ordered dinner and ate it with relish because we were all hungry! We chatted for quite a while and then decided it was time to go to our hotels to pack for home and get a few hours of sleep. My party hailed a cab and went back to our hotel. We packed, laid out clothes for the next morning’s trip home, and tried to get a few hours of sleep. Tried is what I did. After all, we were in Seattle, and I’d been sleepless for the last couple of week-ends and nights enjoying Taylor Hicks in concert.

Getting to the airport was easy. Saying good-bye to friends wasn’t. I checked in at the Northwest e-ticket counter, and was offered a chance to upgrade to first class. Got to love having silver elite status. I accepted. I would have to be on a wait list out of Seattle, but would have first class on the Minneapolis to Memphis flight. That was fine with me.

I stopped by the Northwest World Club lounge to charge my cell phone and get a club membership. When it was time to board, I packed up my laptop and went to the gate. I checked to see if first class was full and was rewarded with a first class seat! Alright! Bigger seats! Lunch! First class all the way back home! I was feeling good! Maybe I could even take a nap!

As the plane took off from Seattle, I watched out the window to see if I would be able to see any snow capped mountains. I was rewarded with seeing the top of Mt. Rainier sticking out through the top of the clouds. The clouds made it look like snow-covered ground at the foot of the mountain. But it wasn’t! Mt. Rainier is so high that its peak is often covered by clouds, and today was no exception. I grabbed my camera and took a few pictures.

By the time I arrived back in Memphis, I had sorted through my photographs and started writing my Portland blog. I had read a couple of chapters of a book and taken a nap. I was ready to be home. I needed time to rest and reflect. Now that I’ve had a couple of days at home, I ready for the summer tour to start.

But alas, the traveling circus needs more time to recharge its batteries, sort through all the pictures taken, catch up with paperwork and house cleaning and muck out the circus tent. Even my cats, a couple of Ragdolls, are threatening a lock-out if I don’t stay home for a couple of weeks!

Keep watching, because when the summer tour starts in Tupelo the first week-end in June, you can bet the traveling circus will be there, ready to capture the concert with pictures and tales for the blog!

Until then…..remember come summer, the Traveling Circus is “Gonna Move” through “The Maze” because “Heaven Knows” with all the “Places I’ve Been” I’m going to wind up in “The Right Place”, whether it’s to take “The Fall” or make “The Deal” you won’t get “The Runaround” if you “Give Me Tonight” because it’s a “Soul Thing”!

Pictures from The Moore Theatre, Seattle, WA

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