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

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Traveling Circus Brings Clouds to Pompano Beach

After the show in Clearwater, I wasn’t able to sleep all that well, so I decided to sleep in a bit before heading over to Pompano Beach. With the car packed, I typed in the address to the next hotel and took off in my silver PT Cruiser rental! What a nice piece of machinery it was! Since I had plenty of time for travel, I decided I would take a slight detour and see a few sights.

Since it was dark and wet when I drove into Clearwater the night before, I could only smell the ocean, but I could make out the waves in the blackness of the night. So on the drive to Pompano I was hoping that I would see some ocean. The drive would take me down I-75 and across a beautiful bridge in what I think was Tampa Bay. It’s a tall bridge with a design that reminds me of a sailboat’s outstretched sails. Perhaps you know where I’m talking about.

Anyway, as I started to cross the bridge I noticed a long pier down below and regretted immediately that I hadn’t taken the exit. When I got to the other end of the bridge, there was another pier, and I wasn’t going to pass it up! I took the exit, paid my $3.50 for one hour on the pier, and followed the road to the end of the pier. I wanted to take a few pictures of the water and bridge, and a few of the birds on the rails and night lights.

After a few short minutes, I was back in the car and soon back on the interstate. I watched the GPS signals and soon discovered I didn’t know where I was headed. Next thing I know I’m getting on US 80 and then getting back on I-75 and then I-95 and who knows where else! But I must say, the drive was peaceful. I passed the time just thinking about the concert the night before and watching the dark clouds in front of me.

It was those dark clouds that concerned me. Before long I was running in and out of rain. For a while, it was more in the rain than out of it! Would the concert still go on? After all, Taylor Hicks would be performing in the Pompano Beach Amphitheatre, which is an open theatre with a huge white tent over the staging area. The band gets to stay dry but so much for the audience!

Calls were being made to friends already in Pompano who were constantly checking the weather and checking in. Plans were being finalized for me to do the Boogie Board cell cert. Other calls were just to check in and chat. I may travel a lot, but I still have to keep in touch!

The clouds were moving out of Pompano and seemed to be meeting me wherever I turned. Then the call came – it’s raining in Pompano Beach! But the rain would be short-lived and serve to cool the air. We were going to have a show tonight!

As I was checking into my hotel, I met my friends in the lobby. We decided to go up to my room to chat and decide what to do about dinner. One of the ladies had a meet & greet so we needed to be at the venue a little early for that. Dinner at the hotel was the call, so we headed down to see what the fare would be.

Now I have to tell you a funny story. In our little troupe was a small child. Cute as a button with dark, thick pigtails! Her mom ordered her the kid’s macaroni and cheese. Forget the fact that it took forever to get it, but the child didn’t want to eat it! Finally Mom took a bite and understood – it was hot! Not that we didn’t believe her, but several of us motherly types tried it as well. Some jalapeno had definitely gotten into the dish! No wonder she wouldn’t eat it! The kitchen chef was sure there was nothing hot in it, but the manager decided to see for herself! WHOA! It was spicy! Free dinner for my friends and drinks and dessert for us after the concert! I’m really sorry the poor baby had to eat that stuff, but the after concert snacks were really good!

We made our way to the venue and found a place to park. The Pompano Beach Amphitheater was an older venue, but acceptable. We had front row seats, but they were off to the side in front of speakers about 15 feet from the stage. Oh well! There was plenty of leg room in front of us, so we would have room to stand and dance!

The venue was probably half sold, and the crowd was a nice mix of men, women and children. Every age conceivable was probably there, except infants! A good number of the crowd would dance while the rest preferred to sit. As the show began, I watched the dark, thick pigtails sway to the music as she stood in front of us to get a better view of Taylor! After all, Mommy traveled to see Taylor, so she wanted to see Taylor and now she was right there!

Taylor Hicks opened his concert “Gonna Move” and a shout out to Pompano Beach! “Give Me Tonight” and “Heart and Soul” followed. The alcohol was flowing and the people behind me were feeling it! One lady had to be sent back to her seat so many times that I wondered why security just didn’t remove her. She would act so indignant when she was chastised by security! Too bad she had the seats right behind me because she was interfering with my enjoyment of the concert!

Soon Taylor was singing “Just to Feel That Way”. When he finished that song, he announced that a ‘really, really good friend had requested “Lowdown” and he was going to honor the request. That was probably the best song of the night! Next came the crazy friend song written by Taylor, “My Friend”.

One of my favorite songs, Rod Stewart’s “Young Turks”, made the set list. It had been quite a while since I’d heard it and I was ready to enjoy it tonight! The Beatles, “Don’t Let Me Down” was next. I must confess I like “The Deal” and “Run Baby Run” a lot, and this was the place to get them both!

Taylor Hicks finished out the main set with “Heaven Knows”, “The Maze” and “The Runaround”. The drunken lady behind me had gotten up and had her husband come down to the stage for a picture with her. I think by now security had had it’s fill of her and just left her alone. Other ladies with them were egging them on about the pictures, even going to get a few of their own! Oh, and these same so-called friends kept having a conversation that was most disturbing to the point I finally asked them to be quite when they asked the lady next to me to sit down (pot calling kettle black because these same ladies had been standing and dancing just seconds before!)

Now when Josh was playing on one of the songs, I don’t remember which, Taylor let the crowd know that Josh would be playing at The Poorhouse after the show and that we were all invited. My friends and I later decided to pass and go back to the hotel for dessert, etc.

When the band came back out for the encore, the masses rushed the stage and security just backed away. There was little else they could do! “Soul Thing” was the final song. With a bow to the band and shout outs of “Taylor Hicks”, Taylor left the stage and headed backstage to cool down.

With a lot of unruly crowd, the concert was not as enjoyable as usual, and that disappointed me. Perhaps Taylor was feeling their behavior and just having his own reaction to it. The energy and vibe from the night before just didn’t seem to be there. Maybe the outdoors, the heat, crowd or whatever was getting to him as much as to those of us who were sober and trying to enjoy the show. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good concert, but I didn’t come away with the exhilaration that I usually do when Taylor seems to be on fire and that connection with audience can be felt.

As we walked back to our vehicles, we could see a crowd gathering by the fence. We got in line and waited to see what was going to happen. Reward was awaiting us for our efforts – Taylor came out to the edge of the fence at the driveway entrance. We filed by Taylor as he autographed tickets, CDs, books, and pictures. I tried to take a couple of pictures but didn’t think I was getting anything because when I clicked the camera, someone stepped in front of me. Later, when I was reviewing my pictures, there it was – a picture of Taylor by the fence! That was the best surprise of the night!

The drive back to the hotel was filled with discussion on the concert. One thought it was terrific, another thought great, and me, just so-so. I’ve seen a number of shows, and this wasn’t one of the best I’d seen, especially given what I had enjoyed last night in Clearwater. Anyway, we were going on to Orlando for the show at Hard Rock Live with high expectations, so we figured we needed to head to bed early, but first we needed the fortification offered earlier by the hotel’s restaurant manager!

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