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

Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Traveling Circus Goes Red, White & BOOM!

There’s one thing about traveling on Friday afternoon – I usually have to work that morning. That’s not always easy because I’m excited about flying to some new place to watch Taylor Hicks perform his magic on the unsuspecting concert audience. Today was no different.

After several trips of getting lost trying to get to a hotel or venue, I decided I needed a new traveling companion. I thought she might like to be called Tay or Taylor even, but she wouldn’t speak to me again until I called Madge. So Madge and I picked up our rental car and took off to find our hotel in downtown Spartanburg. Like most of the places I have ventured this year, I’d never been to Spartanburg before, so I had no idea where I was going. But Madge did! As long as I listened to her I was fine! I did take a right when I should have taken a left. But that was ok, because I gave Madge the wrong address!

Madge, I must say, is pretty sleek! About 2 pounds of extra weight and fairly easy on the eyes as well! Of course, when I realize there’s some whatever out there that knows exactly where I am is rather scary to say the least! But with Madge, I do feel a bit more secure. Madge is my nickname for my new Magellan GPS system that I broke down and bought last night so I could make my trip this week-end!

I had a VIP ticket for the Red, White and BOOM celebration tonight. That gave me appetizers and drinks before the show, during the show if I chose to stay at the hotel ballroom, and maybe a drink after the show. Also included was a white folding chair about 100 feet give or take from the stage. The distance was going to play havoc with my picture taking but would probably make for a good cell cert!

By the time I got checked in and ready to go to the pre-party, it was seven. Show was to start around eight. I grabbed a quick soft drink and walked around the crowd. I saw a couple of ladies that I recognized but that was about it. I decided to go on over to the amphitheatre and wait it out there. Beside, I needed to get the cell cert set up and going so we would be ready when the concert started.

Now if you are a novice or never visited the Boogie Board, a cell cert is when someone at the concert calls the conference number and allows everyone on the conference call to listen to the concert on their phones. Only the person at the concert and the person who is the host can talk and everyone else is in listen mode only. It’s a great way to vicariously attend a Taylor Hicks concert when you can’t otherwise get there. We get everything connected and waited for the show to begin.

A local artist came on stage and played an electric guitar version of “The Star-Spangled Banner”. At times it sounded more like screeching than anything else. I know it was a great patriotic song for the Fourth of July holiday, but I’ve heard much better versions!

After he finished, the crew came out and moved the band instruments around and prepared the stage for Taylor. The keyboards and drums were on rolling platforms. Finally it was show time!

Taylor Hicks took the stage without introduction other than the screaming adoration of the fans that were standing up to six people deep next to the stage! He did his “airplane” dance as he came out on stage. He wore an orange or burnt orange tee shirt with jeans and his usual black New Balance sneakers. Taylor was ready to be a moving, grooving, dancing machine, opening the concert with “Gonna Move”. And before the end of the concert, Taylor would look like he had been a contestant in a wet tee shirt contest!

Out came the red guitar and Taylor did “Heart and Soul”, one of the songs he wrote before American Idol. For good measure, some “Brown-Eyed Handsome Man” found its way into the song. Taylor introduced the next song, his first single from his CD, “Just to Feel That Way”.

While he was singing, I looked over the crowd which was a vast span of ages from toddles to older than dirt and every age in between! And the audience was probably split evenly among genders. If I had to guess, I would say the number of people there would be in the seven to ten thousand range. I couldn’t see the last row behind me which was at least a hundred yards or more back!

Although I don’t recall any special acknowledgment, this was a special show. The Soul Patrol from several of the fan boards helped send over 100 military personnel from Fort Jackson to the show. On behalf of Taylor’s Angels and Proud of Our Troops, I would like to give a heart felt thank you for your support in making the ticket drive very successful. Because of the heat, I don’t think many of the military were in uniform, so it was heard to know just who was from Fort Jackson.

Turning my attention back to the show, Taylor talked about writing a jazzy little turn for a crazy friend and sang “My Friend”. He referred to its New Orleans feel, and he’s right about that! Another original, “Hell of a Day” had “Another Brick in the Wall” tagged with it.

Another crowd pleaser was “Medicated Goo”. Taylor wanted to make sure everyone know it was a Traffic song, because he told us that before and after the song! Got it, Taylor! Acknowledging that the song was performed during last summer’s American Idol Tour, Taylor sang the Beatles, “Don’t Let Me Down” after performing his own original “The Deal”. “The Deal”, Taylor told us is about the sacrifices we sometimes have to make in relationships, and hopefully we only had to do that once!

“It’s good to be back home,” shouted Taylor! A reference to being back in the South where sweet tea is the way to satisfy one’s thirst. Taylor was happy to know he was not up North for a while so he could get some sweet tea. He told us it had sent to the bathroom fifteen times already! Gotta love a man who can remind us he’s still at same down to earth guy we’ve come to enjoy and love!

Taylor went back to his self-titled CD to perform “Heaven Knows”, “The Maze”, and “The Runaround”. One of the tags was just chanting “believe” several times. There were other tags as well of lots of harmonica tonight. During “The Runaround”, as Taylor was starting to tag “Willie Brown Blues”, he sang “they call me Taylor” a couple of times! Oh, and there were lots of shout outs to the Soul Patrol! One of the shout outs were sung as a tag and the crowd, especially the ones in front of the stage were going crazy!

Let me explain the set up of the crowd. In front of the stage was the Soul Patrol area which was standing room only unless you furnished your own seat. The concrete walking area that’s step-terraced was the VIP section. Behind that was the general admission section where you either stood or sat in the chair you brought with you! Now during most of the show, any one who had a chair sat. My kind of show – I not much of a “stander” at the shows, preferring to sit and take lots of pictures.

When Taylor finished “The Runaround”, he waved good-bye, wishing everyone a happy Fourth of July week-end and acknowledging the band. He slapped a few hands of those standing on the front row in front of the stage. He exited behind the stage and waited for the band to finish and walk of the stage as well.

Shouts of “Taylor! Taylor!” signaled it was time to do an encore. As Taylor was coming back on stage, he was slinging water from his bottle out over the crowd in front of the stage. He told them to admit it felt good because it was so hot! By now, Taylor’s tee shirt looked like he was participating in a wet tee shirt contest!

About that time, Josh Smith, guitarist extraordinaire, was sprayed with silly string. I didn’t see who did it, but Taylor acknowledged that it was Josh’s birthday. Everyone came back out to do “Soul Thing”. When he finished the song, he crossed the stage a few times and then was gone. The band finished playing.

And when it was over! Boom! Boom! Boom! The fire works started! They were beautiful bursts of red, green, blue and white sparkles. The finale was a whole bunch of fireworks in all colors. Some bursts were higher than others and some lower than others. But it was beautiful!

I caught the shuttle back to the hotel because it was going to be a long hike otherwise. The second think I don’t do well is to walk long distances. The weather had been kind tonight – we only had a few, very few sprinkles during the show. And the temperature cooled down nicely before the show started. Back at the hotel, I considered going to the bar to grab a quick bite, but it was karaoke night, and the music was too loud.

Wait! I’d just come back from a concert, and the bar was too loud! So I went upstairs to my room and ordered room service. After all, I wanted to get my pictures posted to Photobucket as quickly as possible, and this way I could do some multitasking! Post pictures, write my recap and eat dinner! With my tasks done, and finally wound down from the show, it’s time to get some sleep before I have to check out at noon and head down to Charleston for another show tomorrow night!

Spartanburg pictures

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