Friday morning made me want to sing “Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day…” The sun was out, the temperature was hot, and we were checking out to head on over to Biloxi for our third show of the week-end. We loaded up the vans, cars and SUVs and headed out towards Jackson. Two vehicles were going to travel together, another had left quite early, and the fourth was going to do its own thing. No one really trusted Madge to get us there, but the vehicle I was in decided to see what she might do. Madge has no comment on how well she did or didn’t do!
As we drove into Biloxi, we were able to see much of the devastation left from Katrina. Lots of foundation slabs and a few buildings still needing to be torn down were visible. The ocean was just across the street from the main highway. It’s hard to understand how something as beautiful as the ocean can be so destructive when a hurricane strikes. We found our hotel, which was across from the beach, and checked in.
We didn’t have a lot of time because several in our group had meet & greets and needed to get to the coliseum. Others were going to try their hand at luck at the Beau Rivage Casino that had just been rebuilt after Katrina destroyed the original. Others would just plain rest. I decided to head to the Coliseum and wait for the show.
Security was tight around the doors but also quite compassionate. The young man at the door where I waited knew it was very hot outside so he propped open the door to let out some of the cooler air. He told us his mother couldn’t take the heat either, and knew this would help us older ladies standing outside. Another door was soon opened by one of the ticket checkers, so waiting outside wasn’t too bad.
At 7:00 the doors were opened. I made my way to the merchandise table to wait for the person buying my extra ticket for tonight’s show. After we made our exchange, I just had to get one of the new purple tour shirts with the dates on the back!
I found my seat, or what I thought was my seat. As I patiently waited, several of us chatted about prior shows and watched the front rows talk to a special guest in the audience – Ms. Joni, Taylor’s grandmother. She was so graceful and elegant, and talked to anyone who stopped by to speak to her. And if you asked politely, you could get your picture taken with her! It was easy to see where Taylor gets his good looks and charm!
In the mean time, the people who had the seats where I sat come over with a Coliseum helper. Oops! I was in the right seat but the wrong section! I apologized, got up and moved to the opposite side of the floor. When I sat down, I found myself with people I knew from other concerts so we chatted about the state of Taylor’s health.
I was commenting on the fact that despite strep and bronchitis, Taylor had put on one heck of show the night before. The man in front of me heard the part about strep and turned around and wanted to know if I had strep. Not one of my quick wit moments, I told him it was Taylor who had strep. When he turned back around, I thought of all sorts of comebacks for his comment, but refrained from using them. We had a good laugh over what I did do, and if you weren’t there to witness it, remember, I’m a lady (cough, cough) and what I did was very lady-like (NOT!).
Michael Warren, another Birmingham native, was the opening act. This time he had Brandon White on guitar as his backup for the show. Michael is very good, and does a lot of his own material. He had opened for several of the spring tour concerts, and I must confess he was my favorite opening act. Michael has a very soft soulful voice, and can keep the audience fixed on him and listening. You have to check him out when you get the chance.
After a 20-minute intermission, it was time for Taylor Hicks. We were ready, or at least I was! And maybe Ms. Joni! With the introduction from Loren Gold, Taylor Hicks took the stage shouting hello to Biloxi and moved right into “Soul Thing”. I remember turning around to see Ms. Joni’s reaction, and there she was standing up, beaming and smiling from ear to ear, and swaying to the music. She was one proud grandma – someone later said the expression on her face was like a mother looking at her new born child for the first time. I would have to agree. Her reaction was beautiful and wonderful to see.
Next came “Heart and Soul”, a pre-Idol composed song by Taylor Hicks. Before the song was over, he waved to his grandmother, and the look on Taylor’s face was one of joy to see her there enjoying herself! I’m sure after seeing her at all those bars when only a handful of other people were there, Biloxi was a welcomed change to have a nearly full house watching this talented young man.
Speaking of a nearly full house! The Coliseum only used about half to a third of its available space for this show. The only empty seats I saw were in the riser area behind the floor seats. The crowd was a diverse mix of men, women and children of all ages. A number of families were there as well. And I spoke to or saw a number of Soul Patrol from several different boards as well as fans I don’t see very often at shows because of the expense and distance to travel. All was good tonight!
Well, all was good if you wanted to sit and enjoy the show! Security came back and did their version of the wave to make everyone sit down! Thank goodness! I like to take pictures and dance in my chair anyway. Soon “Just to Feel That Way” started. I find for myself that I prefer to hear this song in a live performance because it better shows Taylor’s versatility.
Someone in the front few rows in the other section had a sign that read “I love fried chicken”, and when Taylor saw it, he said he loved fried chicken too! The audience laughed but not everyone understood the comment. After a bit of detective work and questioning a few witnesses, the reason was soon discovered. Lucky lady who got noticed!
Next came “My Friend, “Wherever I Lay My Hat” and “Medicated Goo”. By now Taylor’s shirt is drenched. Before the first set was over we would be able to see the sweat ripple down the back of his shirt. Be it fever or hot lights, he was putting out the fires in our hearts with his perspiration! That charcoal gray shirt was going to need the laundry when the night was over! And whatever meds Taylor was taking for his strep and bronchitis was working – he was putting on one heck of a show and it was rivaling his performance in Vicksburg the night before!
There’s lots of harp, guitar and sax throughout the night. Dueling guitars and harp between Josh and Taylor even. It was hard to keep straight who was doing what! But it was hot, hawt, hot, hawt and fabulous! The energy was high and kept getting higher. The crowd was enjoying the show, and Taylor was enjoying being back in the South.
Next came “Don’t Let Me Down”, “The Deal”, “Naked in the Jungle” and “Gonna Move”. The audience wants to stand and dance, and some do, but my section was definitely into sitting. Maybe we were too mesmerized to do anything else! I kept taking pictures and trying to capture Taylor’s mood and expressions!
“Heaven Knows” came with a bonus tonight. As Taylor was singing “Heaven knows I tried”, he moves over towards Josh and begins to do his boogie dance with knees bent and derriere out. He continues until I think the crowd will erupt and then he turns around and heads toward Al. Lo and behold, Taylor does the limbo right under Al’s guitar arm! Oh my word, what a dancing treat we just had! I think there’s some video out there so go check it out! It was wild!
By now it’s time for “The Maze”, “The Right Place” and “The Runaround”. With “The Right Place”, Taylor lets us know that Biloxi is definitely the right place to be tonight! He is giving us everything he has and then some! The band is tight tonight. The sweat is beading everywhere, and Taylor’s shirt is soaked from the shoulders to the waist. It’s so funny to see the bottom part of the shirt dry with the top part so wet it’s sticking to his back! I don’t know how Taylor does it, much less stands it! I guess it really is a great exfoliate for him so he continues to sweat and dance for our enjoyment!
More harp gets injected into the performance. The last two nights have been fantastic and the amount of harp has been staggering. I’m sure it helps bring relief for the bronchitis, besides the fact that Taylor plays one mean instrument. I can only grin like there’s no tomorrow and shake my head in disbelief and enjoyment. Suck and blow, Taylor, suck and blow!
Taylor shouts out to the Soul Patrol and takes his leave from the stage. We are all used to an encore, and shout for Taylor to return. We aren’t disappointed. The show ends with “Long Train Running” and “Without Love”. What a performance! And what a proud grandmother – Ms. Joni was still smiling proudly and standing and dancing! Tonight was definitely one of the best shows of the summer tour, and I was there to witness it!
When the show was over, my group made our way outside to meet up so we could figure out what to do next. Dinner, Beau Rivage, or the hotel. Some went by the buses while others watched their ride drive away. I had to track down my ride who didn’t realized I was planning to ride with her! Anyway, we decided that one car would head for the casino and the other would go back to the hotel to drop off people, cameras and other items before heading for the casino.
My group was ready for dinner so we found the late night buffet and proceeded to get our fill of good Biloxi food. We spent the next hour just talking about the show and how wonderful it was. We were still in shock from spending the last hour listening to one of the best shows and facing that we had only one more night together in our group.
After we had eaten, we walked around the casino and tried a few machines. I dropped a few coins and then decided I really needed to head back to the hotel for some much needed sleep. The other ladies I was with were in agreement so we headed back to our rooms. I don’t think I was awake for long after my head hit the pillow. When my room mate returned several hours later, I don’t know if I even stirred. Keep in mind we were all keeping very late hours, some later than others, or maybe I should say some came in with day break while others were sleeping through it!
Our energy may be starting to wane at this point, but our love for Taylor Hicks was still high, and spending time with friends was the best part of the week-end adventure. As I would soon come to learn, four nights with Taylor is one night too much for me at my age, but three is just right! The white hair ain’t white for no reason! Yep, I’m starting to feel my age this week-end!
Daylight would come soon enough, too soon for most of us, and it would be time to head to New Orleans. The adventure would continue, and only get better, something that even this troupe of circus clowns would find hard to imagine. By noon we had boarded our human cannons to get us to New Orleans on time. Stay tuned, folks, the traveling circus will do the crawfish crawl to New Orleans in a few days!