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

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Traveling Circus Sees the Lights of Vegas


Saturday morning came quite early after being out until the wee hours of the morning sight-seeing in Los Angeles. A shuttle trip to the airport, check in, find the gate, board the plane and I was off to see the lights of Las Vegas! The last time I was there was for an emergency landing to take a passenger off the plane. And a daytime landing doesn’t do the city justice!

I made my way from the arrival gate to the baggage claim to meet my traveling buddy. Nice airport. Even nicer one-armed bandits! I must have passed a dozen sections of slot machines – all different kinds! With all the casinos around, I wasn’t expecting to see this in the airport. I don’t know why. After all, I was in Vegas, as it’s known by its frequent visitors and inhabitants!

My friend arrived about an hour after me. We collected her luggage and made our way to the hotel, the MGM Grand, and checked in. Venue for the big boxing match that night. A couple of boxers named Mayweather and De La Hoya. I don’t understand why two supposedly grown men want to beat each other up! It didn’t really matter to me – I was going to see Taylor Hicks in the House of Blues at the Mandalay Resort.

We had to get over to the House of Blues for dinner early. Also, my friend had won a meet and greet so we definitely needed to get there early so she could pick up her pass. We grabbed her pass and then headed to the House of Blue Restaurant for some fortification before the show. There wasn’t a lot of time to spare, but with the Soul Patrol Party in the dining room, we just had to stay a bit and socialize! It was a lot of fun!

With our receipt in hand, we found the “break the barricade line” and took our places. Well, I stood in line while my friend went to the M&G. I was holding her place until she came back out. Now the House of Blues tends to not allow cameras, and tonight would be no exception. After the meet and greet, we checked our cameras and stood in line waiting for the doors to open. I didn’t care about getting the best standing place – I had a front row balcony seat, which was great!

The Boogie Board planned to host a cellcert for the concert, and I had agreed to be the host at the concert. I called my contact and we ran our test. The night before proved futile because of the tin roof, but this concert was going to be heard! The test was successful, so we hung up and waited until closer to show time to connect.

I found my seat and sat down. From my vantage point, I could see the rest of the balcony with its elevated rows of seats and the standing area in front of the stage. Now this stage was high up! It would hurt is someone fell off! Hope Taylor had already checked that out during the sound check!

The doors opened at 7:00 and the show was scheduled to start around 8:30. Some of the natives were getting restless when 8:00 rolled around and the show hadn’t started. The male half of a couple sitting behind me started talking very loudly about leaving if the show didn’t hurry up and start. OK, sir, please settle down and practice a little Southern patience. You will be rewarded, I promise!

As the guys were setting up the stage, I could hear laughter. I peeped between the balcony rails to see a couple of the stage guys pretending to try on white ‘granny’ panties – you know, the full cut, covers everything, cotton panties! What a hoot! After the display, the undies were tossed into the inside of the drums! Is that what makes “The Runaround” such an upbeat tempo of a song?!?!?!

The screen went up; the band took their places and the opening montage started. Brian Less, in his best voice, announced TAY-LOR HICKS! Out came the man of the hour wearing a beautiful gray paisley shirt with the sleeves rolled up, usual jeans and black sneakers. Again, no jacket! Casual Taylor – I like it! And for the record, the black band was in full view.

It’s hadn’t hit me just yet, even though I knew what day it was. This was Cinco de Mayo. Taylor was about to wish us a great Cinco de Mayo with and throughout the concert! Cinco de Mayo, Taylor, Cinco de Mayo!

To take us to church and get funky, as Taylor put it, he opened with “Gonna Move”. It’s an appropriate opening because it prepares you for what’s about to happen. Forget about the words to the song, think about just being moved – moved to dance, moved to hear good music, moved to remember the seventies!

Next came “Give Me Tonight” and Taylor guitar picking on “Hell of a Day”. I don’t know if “Another Brick in the Wall” was a tag or the entire song. Doesn’t really matter, ‘cause “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!” Taylor told us so!

Forget it, Taylor, I have to tell them about the show! Some “Medicated Goo” and the place was rocking! I took a couple of hard looks at Taylor’s hair – what! A duck-tail in the front! Taylor had the bangs sort of straight out and in a point in the front that resembled a duck’s tail! It was so cute! With his famous ‘belly roll’, some tagged “deluxe apartment in the sky” and a hand gesture from Taylor, Brian Gallagher was playing a saxophone solo!

His album single, “Just to Feel That Way”, was next. WOW! Taylor told us he wrote the next song for a ‘crazy friend’ of his. Ah, the funky beat of “My Friend”! Brian pulled out his clarinet and Taylor blew on the harp! Another chance for Taylor to eat the harp like corn on the cob! Taylor’s ability to play the harp just leaves me breathless! More like unable to breathe because I had blown that thing with him!

A couple more Taylor Hicks’ originals, “The Deal” and “Hold on to Your Love” were next. Taylor mentioned that “Hold on to Your Love” resulted from an idea from Harry Bellefonte. I don’t know any more than that, but who cares! We had some tags of “Jump in the Line” and Felix bass solo. Taylor doing a salsa-style dance. Some more tags and a Josh Smith guitar solo. Taylor finally decided to chug some bottled water. ‘Bout time!

“Wherever I Lay My Hat”, from his self-titled album, is definitely one of my favorites. I can only imagine what Taylor must be feeling when he sings that song. Currently, his home is on the tour bus or some hotel room. I know how I feel when I do a lot of traveling, and Taylor’s doing a lot more than I do, so I’m sure he’s starting to feel the pangs of homesickness! However, the song is great to put in some tags like “Night Shift”.

Another funky song, “Heart and Soul” gets us moving and grooving. Throw in some “Brown-Eyed Handsome Man” for good measure. We were even taken to the ballpark for the high fly into the stands! Loren seems to love to play those notes! A little ‘chicken strut’ and a mullet toss for good cheer! Cinco de Mayo!

Rod Stewart did us right! “Young Turks” is another favorite of the tour. Taylor dances to the edge of the stage and all across. He points to his head. We know, it’s silver. Oh, you mean ‘don’t let them put you down, don’t let them push you around’! Take that critics! Taylor don’t care!

Back to the album for “Heaven Knows” and “The Maze”. More Cinco de Mayo and then off the stage to chug the water bottle while Al does a bass solo. Some cow bell. Did someone say, “more cowbell”? We got it and then some! Loren played a little solo. Some great tags with “Warm Love” and “Mama Said”. Maybe a couple of others. Some harp. And a few pats on his chest.

Loren wrote “The Runaround”, and hopefully it was for Taylor. What a great beat and shows a rocking side of Taylor. Taylor told us it had been an amazing one year and three months. And that dreams do come true! Yes, I’ve also had an amazing year and some months! Keep it up, Taylor! Keep it up!

The introduction to “Soul Thing” according to Taylor was that the song was writer in LA. As in lower Alabama! As he sings and gives Josh a guitar solo, Taylor stands nearby playing his own “air” guitar. When Taylor tags “Turn on Your Love Light”, the house lights come on and Taylor points to the balcony and asks “did you get healed tonight?” Now if anything had ailed me, I’m sure I was cured! “East Bound and Down” and some harp finish the song.

By now, I notice a little girl, maybe five or six, sitting on the front guard rail, being held by her father. She’s clapping constantly as she watches. She’s caught Taylor’s eye! Taylor sings directly to her at one point! Before the first set ends, Taylor jumps over the stage speakers and hands his harp to the little girl!

As Taylor is waving good night, a large white padded bra, maybe a double-D with stars outlined near the points, is thrown up on stage. It hits the floor. Taylor reaches down and picks it up. What! Taylor puts the bra on over his shirt, but it’s obvious the man doesn’t know how to put it on. But he sure knew how to take it off in record time! We get the silly toss of the bra to the floor like it’s on fire! And Taylor leaves the stage.

Encore! Encore! Taylor wants to know if we’re winning any money in the casino. How can we – we’re busy listening and watching Taylor! Better than a royal flush at the tables for me! Boss Skaggs’ “Low Down”! Most everyone in the balcony is now standing! Some “Soul Patrol” shout outs. As the song ended, Taylor strutted off the stage doing a salsa! Or was it a tango! Either way, it was great! A bit more music from the band and the concert was over!

I found my friend and we chatted a few minutes with Brian Less. Security was intent on clearing the concert hall quickly, so we weren’t allowed to stay very long. They would carry you out if necessary! Ok, I’ll leave!

We decided to find a couple of slot machines to give our money to. At least my friend did! The machine I was on was hot! Fifteen coins, 50 coins, 75 coins, 254 coins! Now if all I had done was win, that would have been one thing. But I was up. I was down. I was down and then back up. My friend kept watching as I pushed the maximum bet. Finally I was a whole thirty cents over my original bet. Time to fold ‘em and cash in!

Since neither of us really ate a lot at dinner, we decided to return to the scene of the crime and try again. We leisurely ate and rested our feet. My friend had been standing for about six hours and her feet were numb! I’d sat through most of the concert, but still I could sit some more!

It was time to catch a cab back to our hotel. Little did we expect to find a long line waiting for cabs. We met a couple of other ladies who had been to the concert and decided to share a cab. We wanted to go up one end of the strip and back down to see all the lights and casinos. Our driver had other plans. He was rather indignant with our request, but in the end we got what we wanted, albeit by way of the back roads. He’s not much happier now than he was then. So much for professional and courteous behavior.

Since we both were flying back the next morning, we packed and got ready for bed. I slept very soundly for a change. It was hard to get up when the alarm went off and the wake up call rang. But we got ready and checked out. Back to the airport. My original flight was a red-eye, but I decided to try to fly stand-by to get in late Sunday. Thank goodness for my silver elite status – I was successful! I had flown to LA in first class and home in coach. Who cared! I was on my way home! Got to get rested up to do it this again next week-end! Stick around. Portland and Seattle will be coming soon!

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