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

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The Traveling Circus Finds Men in Black in Charleston

Sometimes the best surprises come when you least expect it! When I returned to my hotel after the Spartanburg show, I noticed one of the bus drivers was checking out so I assumed (you know the drill!) that the buses were going to leave that night. After all, the hotel was booked solid the entire week-end between Red, White & BOOM and the Miss South Carolina and Miss Teen South Carolina pageant at the hotel.

Considering all the young single females in one central place, the Spartanburg Marriott was the best place any single red-blooded young male could be! Might not be the best place for a group of single musicians on a tight schedule! (The mother instincts are showing again!) So as I was checking out of my hotel shortly before noon, I was quite surprised to see Felix leaving the front desk!

And even more surprised when I walked outside to get my car out of hock with the valet parking service to see Taylor Hicks in the driveway with several fans! Don’t get alarmed, you mother types! Bill and Loren were making sure no one made off with Taylor! I stood next to a support post and watched as Taylor was explaining about taking advantage of the opportunities he had been given since winning American Idol.

Bill and Loren, still keeping a watchful eye on Taylor, chatted with me for a few minutes. I related my getting lost stories from past trips and the decision to have Madge travel with me. We couldn’t help but laugh about the idea of someone always knowing where you are at any given moment when a GPS system is being used! Taylor, Loren and Bill started towards the hotel entrance and I asked if I could get a picture of the three of them together because it seemed like no one had ever posted anything like that! Taylor gave me a great smile for the camera as I snapped the picture, and as they turned to enter the hotel, I thanked them for the picture and told them I’d see them in Charleston.

By now my car had arrived and I loaded the back with luggage. As soon as I fastened my seatbelt, I turned on Madge, set the destination address in Charleston and hit the road. It was going to be a four hour drive with just the two of us girls, a cell phone and the radio when I needed more noise than Madge could squawk out! The drive was mostly uneventful except for the two accidents that snarled traffic for over an hour and untold miles, and maybe the highway patrol hidden in the bushes. No comment!

By 4:00 I was safely in Charleston at my hotel and discovered the concert venue was across the street and the hotel offered shuttle service! After checking in and checking messages, I decided to grab a bite before heading over to the theatre for the concert. Great chicken wings and even better bleu cheese dressing! When I finished my snack, it was time to catch the shuttle to the North Charleston Coliseum Complex. It was a nice service, and front door drop-off wasn’t too shabby either!

Once inside the venue, I checked out the new merchandise. A gray men’s tee shirt with Taylor Hicks on the front and a lavender ladies’ tee with butterfly and Taylor Hicks were new. Seeing as to how I’m a female, I bought the lavender shirt. Besides, isn’t Taylor’s favorite color supposed to be purple!

I made my way to my seat, thinking I had a front row seat! Surprise! Double A to Double C were in front of me! But it was an improvement over my other ticket which was another 4 rows back! I’m not complaining! And I was close enough to see Taylor shake off the sweat and accidentally spit on his mike! Now that’s close!

Now I understand why theatres don’t like food and beverages in the actual theatre area! I had to navigate a dropped hot dog and bun and spilled liquid which later seeping into my purse! What a mess that made! But the good news was that the four seats in front of me were going to be empty, at least until a couple of interlopers decided to take them! That was fine except both were much taller than me and wanted to stand and dance. I’m a sitter and a grinner and a clapper, and they were blocking my camera lens from time to time. People behind me were sitting, so I tried to be polite and sit as much as possible, even if it meant not being able to see very well. Oh well!

There was no opening act which meant we were getting an evening with Taylor! Right at 8:00 the opening montage of “Soul Finger” started and the band took the stage. What! Every one of the guys was wearing black tonight! Loren, Brian, Felix, Al and Josh were wearing either a black shirt or tee shirt! They were looking good! Talk about men in black! Don’t get me started!

With the band’s opening montage, Loren leaned into the microphone and yelled “TAY-LOR HICKS”! And lo and behold, Taylor took the stage wearing a black tee shirt, black jeans and black sneakers! A total men in black look! As Taylor would say, “Cool!” The opening number, “Gonna Move”, had the house rocking! Within the front few phrases of the song, Taylor was waving to someone up close and what a thrill that was for the intended person! I don’t know who danced the most during the show – Taylor, Al or the blonde haired guy on the front row! They were all grooving to the music! What a fabulous show this was going to be!

Next came “Heart and Soul” with “Brown-Eyed Handsome Man tagged into it! Even the famous home run and winning music! Taylor actually stopped singing and waited for Loren to play the notes! I’ve seen Taylor stop Loren and I’ve seen him egg Loren on, but the stopping and waiting is my favorite way to do this!

Tonight’s show was quickly becoming one of the best I’ve seen so far this summer! Taylor was so energized, either because of the songs they were going to do or because he was getting a few days off and could actually go somewhere! Who cares, it was going to be a great musical performance!

Taylor introduced the next song as the first single from his new CD and started singing “Just to Feel That Way”. When he hit the glory notes of the song, the crowd was going crazy! There was more crowd acceptance of his music and these people were sitting down for most of the show! The crowd varied in age from young to senior citizen (I ain’ta gonna tell you which one I was!!!!) And they number of men was pretty close to the number of women! OK, the women may have outnumbered them, but there were a lot of men, and children as well!

I love the beat of Taylor’s original tune about a crazy friend, “My Friend” with its Cajun and calypso sound! It seems like it’s going to be a summer standard. And staying with his original music from his earlier CDs, Taylor sang “The Deal” next. To get us up on our feet and moving, well some of us anyway, “Medicated Goo” followed. It was hard to watch Taylor and the blond guy in the front row at the same time! Both were dancing maniacs during this number!

Tonight was definitely my night to be at a concert! And not able to video the next song! Awgh, as Charlie Brown would say! I’d only heard it recently during cell certs or seeing other fans’ videos. And now it was my turn to hear and see “Somehow” performed live! And let me tell you, if you think “The Fall” will silence an audience, you should see the effect of “Somehow”! With his hand across his heart and emphasis on certain phrases of the song, it was as if Taylor was giving us a message perhaps. At least that was my take on it! If ever I was going to cry from hearing Taylor sing a song, this would have been the time to cry to share in the pain and beauty of the song! It was incredible!

To change the pace and pick up the tempo, “Rockin’ Pneumonia & the Boogie Woogie Flu” was tagged with “Hey Pocky Way”. The groove was there and the crowd loved it! Even “Don’t Let Me Down” was well appreciated by everyone. I’m sure Taylor was winning over new fans with his ability to do a number of different types of music all in one show! There were a number of people in the audience who were seeing Taylor live in concert for the first time!

Taylor was going to finish out the set with more from his self-titled CD. “Heaven Knows”, the second single from the CD, started off the group of songs. With “The Maze”, we had so many tags it was hard to keep up with them all! Let’s see – “Want Ads”, “Mama Said”, “Family Affair” and the infamous lady-killer, “Let’s Get It On”. The screams and squeals were loud! And yours truly was right in there with them with the “WHOOOO’s”!

This was definitely my show! It was about time I was able to see Taylor perform “The Right Place”! It was like falling in love all over again! With Taylor, or my former mate! Tonight was pure musical magic as far as I was concerned! And it wouldn’t be a Taylor concert if you didn’t get to hear the funky “The Runaround”! My heart was pounding from all of the excitement!

Taylor thanked us for having him and our coming to see him. He waved good-bye, slapped a few hands on the front row, and headed for the back of the stage. The band finished their parts and then left the stage. No house lights! Encore time!

The microphone was placed in the center of the stage, a clear indication Taylor Hicks would be playing guitar. And then the stool of soul was placed in front of the mike! Alright! The only thing left Taylor could sing that would finish me off would be either “The Fall” or “West Texas Sky”. Since Taylor hadn’t performed “West Texas Sky” before on tour, I was guessing he was about to do “The Fall”. Good guess!

Taylor announced that he had written the song a number of years ago and recorded it in his den. Seems kind of funny to think about that, but then, where better to do an initial recording! “The Fall” started off the encore. And it was beautiful! Very heartfelt, and with the spotlight on him, his eyes were closed most of the song, which only adds to the intensity of the performance.

When he finished, he waved the band back to the stage and they performed “Soul Thing”, another song written by Taylor before his American Idol days. Throw in “Eastbound and Down”, and the audience was one their feet feeling the music. And so was I! As the song ended, Taylor waved, thanked us, slapped a few more hands, and disappeared out the back of the theatre. The show was over and the Fourth of July break was beginning.

With a friend I had met in Jacksonville, we walked around back to the buses to see if Taylor was coming out. Security told us he was gone, and that he had left almost as soon as he left the stage because he had a flight to catch. We walked back to the front of the venue chatting away and then I was given a much appreciated ride to my hotel.

Since it was still early, I thought a snack would be in order. I had seen someone earlier with some big fan-tailed shrimp, so I decided I would have that. If you live or are ever in the Charleston area near International Boulevard, stop by the Holiday Inn there and try those shrimp! They were succulent!

I needed to get up early to drive to Savannah to catch my flight home. I had planned to see the show there, but it was cancelled due to a scheduling conflict. I wanted to upload my pictures first and start my recap, but since it was getting late, only the pictures were sorted, turned and uploaded to Photobucket.

The Sunday morning drive to Savannah was slow. I mean slow as in a speed limit of 50! Finally I made to the airport, turned in my rental car, and checked in for my flight. But due to weather conditions in Memphis, the plane was delayed getting to Savannah and I had plenty of time to surf the internet and write my recap.

Let me tell you, I have spent the week-end seeing two of the best shows I’ve seen with Taylor Hicks! If you haven’t seen him live, beg, borrow, whatever, go see him in person! It will be the best evening you will have had in a long time! Next week I’m headed to Virginia for another double header, and the traveling circus will be back with a report when the dust settles!

Pictures from Charleston

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Some of My Favorite Pictures