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

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Traveling Circus Sees the Crystals in the Ballroom


This week-end was the winding down of the 2007 Taylor Hicks Whomp Tour and my own “Hick Tix and Fix Tour” also known as the “Traveling Circus”. It had been a great three months which started in February. I had traveled almost every week-end, missing only one Saturday concert since the tour began.

I’d met a lot of people, been to a lot of cities, many of which I’d never been before, visited a number of beautiful old theatres and made lots of memories. As I boarded my plane on Friday morning, I couldn’t help but wonder how it was all going to end. I imagine Taylor was probably thinking the same thing while planning the final two shows of his inaugural tour!

For my flight to Portland, I had to change planes in Minneapolis and Seattle. I needed those legs and miles for the summer tour, so I didn’t mind. It would give me a chance to nap and reflect (if I was awake!). I just knew I had been at the first nights of the tour, and I was going to be at the last nights as well. I wanted to know if Taylor had changed, improved or failed.

By now, I had already been to 22 concerts in as many cities. I knew what to expect as far as talent and performance. I didn’t know which songs would be performed or their order. No two shows had been alike. That was good! They were always fresh and fun. Portland would be no different. What I had expected had occurred – Taylor had improved with each performance, constantly refining and reformatting each song as necessary. What started out as mostly “Taylor Hicks” songs from his self-titled first major CD had become more about Taylor’s own original music and some great covers. I had witnessed the transformation and growth.

And tonight I would witness a fire that I had seen many times burn hotter – so much hotter that if the flames burned any higher, the Crystal Ballroom would have gone up in flames. Not down in flames, but UP in flames! Taylor was “hawt”, as they say!

Fortunately I had been warned about the floor of the Crystal Ballroom, an old dance hall built in the 1920s (at least that’s what I was told). The floor had a suspension system that allowed it to vibrate with the music. Walk across it and you knew it was going to move. Kind of like trying to walk on a boat or airplane, in a way. Unsteady, at least for me! Whenever I stood up to take pictures, I had to brace myself! What a trick to do!

The doors finally opened. Handicapped first, break the line second and the everyone else free-for-all last. I went in first by way of an old metal elevator. I was sure someone was in the attic having to run the pulleys! If there had been the metal door to close after the glass door, I would have known someone was operating pulleys!

After getting off the elevator I surveyed the room. Large medallion-type pictures adorned the walls. They were huge in size. A couple of very large crystal chandeliers provided most of the light. Be sure to check out the pictures below for the interior of the ballroom!

There were benches lining the wall, and I sat down. Several friends decided to stand near me. As Taylor sang the opening song, “Gonna Move”, my friend said “Taylor’s on fire tonight!” as I replied “If he were any hotter, the place would be on fire!” The crowd of men, women and children were cheering, clapping, singing and dancing right along with
Taylor. No one was complaining except for the heat! My hair was dripping wet and I was sitting down most of the time! When I said Taylor was hot, I meant it!

Without taking a breath, Taylor launched into “Give Me Tonight.”
It was incredible! An acoustical favorite, “Hell of a Day” was tagged with “Another Brick in the Wall”. This was definitely the place to be! I sat a bit, and stood a bit. The crowd was enjoying the show, and we were all starting to sweat right along with Taylor.

“Medicated Goo” was guaranteed to heal anything that ailed us! The beat is funky, and while more like typical rock, is a crowd pleaser. I’ve come to expect to hear this, and I’m always energized when I do! Written for a “crazy friend”, Taylor sang “My Friend”, an original written by Taylor long before his American Idol debut. Taylor threw in “The Deal” for good measure.

Taylor’s current single, “Just to Feel That Way” was also well received. Following the single, “Compared to What”, a cover that has been a concert standard. Throw in another Taylor Hicks original “Hold On to Your Love” and the Taylor had the crowd begging for more!

I was glad to hear another cover, “Run Baby Run” make an appearance. Taylor’s voice is just perfect for this, and with Melanie’s harmony and anyone else’s, the song is just beautiful! Definitely one I think Taylor should consider recording. (And Rod Stewart’s “Young Turks” is another I’d like to see Taylor record).

No concert is complete without “Soul Thing”, another Taylor Hicks original. Back to the self-titled CD, “Taylor Hicks” for “Heaven Knows”,
”The Maze”, “The Right Place” and “The Runaround”. There didn’t seem to be a lot of tags with the songs tonight, or at least I didn’t notice that much. The show seemed to move quite quickly, almost too quickly for me! I may have been sweating just like Taylor, but I wanted more!

The most I was going to get was the encore. “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie-Woogie Flu”, throw in some “Hey Pokey Way”, and then stir in “When the Saints Go Marching In”, and we were done! We were cooked to perfection! The show was over, and time to leave. I needed a blow-drying for my hair, and so did everyone else!

As we left the venue, we decided to check out the bus scene. We waited around for a while and then decided to check out another corner. No luck tonight. Not that any of that really mattered. We’d just witnesses a fabulous show and the successful conquering of anyone in attendance that was not completely Taylorized before the concert began!

As we walked back around the block to where the closest food was, we were talking about the show and our various takes on it. We tried to get food and beverages in one place, but no one came over to help us. Being we were all ladies, we decided to get up quietly and exit the closest door. Around the corner to another restaurant we trekked.

Success! The hostess showed us a table and we decided we needed more room. A little furniture rearrangement and we had what we needed. We placed our order, waited for our food, and then practically inhaled it when it arrived! We were hungry, and our meals were delicious. I think we all ordered the same thing – the 3-cheese pasta!

We went back to our hotel to get ready for bed. I needed to check email and the boards, and hopefully upload my pictures. After everyone arrived back to the hotel, that adjoining room door was opened, and most of us were in one room reliving the concert! A bunch of grown women were having a great time just chatting and laughing about the entire evening.

Not a lot of sleep was really gotten. We were all up early, and thank goodness someone volunteered to go get coffee and muffins! Everyone got ready to check out of the hotel and pile into our respective cars. We were headed to Seattle for the final show on Saturday. Watch out, Seattle, you may find the Soul Patrol will be sleepless while there!

Pictures from the Crystal Ballroom

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