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

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Traveling Circus Gets Immersed in Clearwater

Today started out like most Fridays lately – very warm! I was catching a ride to work with my boss who is very much a morning person, so I had to be ready to go by 7:00 am! I’m usually just opening my eyes about that time, but not today! I have to be ready, so it’s a quick shower, finish packing, read my emails and give the cats some loving before I leave.

The life of a corporate tax accountant in the summer has to be flexible – late nights, week-ends, changes in plans, etc. The plan was to ride with a couple of people going to lunch who agreed to drop me off at the airport. But duty called, and I needed to stay a little longer. That meant I would have to take a cab to the airport. That worked out fine.

By the time I got to the airport, the security was pretty much empty so I was able to breeze right on through. I grabbed a quick bar-be-que sandwich to eat on the plane as I walked through the airport, and got to my plane in plenty of time to get seated and comfortable. By the time the doors were ready to close, I was wiping my mouth with my napkin and putting everything in the bag for trash.

Before we hit the friendly skies, I was asleep. With two hours of flying time ahead of me, a nap would easily fill the time. As we circled the Tampa airport, I woke up to notice it was very cloudy outside. Actually, we were in a cloud! Then we circled again. The dreaded announcement soon came – because of the weather, we were being diverted to Orlando to refuel and wait out the storm. But by the time we landed in Orlando, that airport was surrounded by storms! To pass the time, I made a few phone calls and decided to read for a little bit.

Now I need to back up a second here. My original plan had been to fly into Orlando, rent a car, and drive back up to Clearwater. I had just made flight changes yesterday, and now here I was in Orlando! Since Tampa was less than thirty minutes away from Clearwater, I opted to remain on the flight and take my chances on making the concert in time.

Around 7:00 pm we were ready to take off for Tampa. It would be a 20-30 minute flight. Ok, I was starting to get a bit nervous, but I was still thinking it was do-able. We landed before 7:30 pm and I quickly got off the plane and went to baggage to collect my suitcase. I still needed to pick up the rental car.

With all my stuff, I headed for the exit and caught the shuttle to the car rental. Every clerk was helping someone, and I started watching the minutes tick away. Finally, by a few minutes after 8:00 pm, it was my turn. With paperwork and rented GPS in hand, I walked to my car and loaded up. I plugged in the information for Ruth Eckerd Hall and was on the road by 8:30 pm!

I pulled into the parking lot and found a spot to park. Quickly walking to the venue doors, I would hear Taylor Hicks talking to the audience. The show was still in progress. I stopped by the merchandise table long enough to find out the main show was still in progress. After circling around the corridor, I found my entrance and took my seat. What a fantastic seat I had – center seat in the third row and about 10 feet from the stage! WHOOO! Unfortunately I had to crawl over a few people and landed in a lap or two, but I made it!

Out came the camera, but in my haste to get inside the venue, I didn’t grab my really good camera! I would later regret that, and when you see my pictures, you’ll understand! The place is packed and I see very few empty seats. It’s a diverse crowd with men, women and children of all ages. A few are dancing at their seats, but most are sitting since this is a theatre.

As I got myself situated, Taylor started into “Wherever I Lay My Hat”. I’m amazed at the energy and vibe that Taylor is giving off tonight. This was a man who seemed to have lost the weight of the world and on the stage giving us everything he had and then some. It was a side of Taylor I had rarely seen in a show, that sense of freedom – perhaps to sing what he wanted the way he wanted and how he wanted.

By the time Taylor Hicks rolled into “Heaven Knows” I had tears rolling down my cheeks. I seldom cry at a concert, but tonight got to me. Maybe because I had missed part of the show, maybe it was the energy and vibe. I don’t really know. But I tell you, it was something very special I was witnessing. Kind of like a baptism or water immersion. And to think I almost missed it! Since I was going to be late and possibly see only the last couple of songs or encore only, I had considered just going straight to the hotel. I’m so glad I didn’t!

“The Maze” was brilliant! There were a number of new tags incorporated, and I didn’t recognize them. Something about “Soldier of Fortune” and then it happened. “Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself”. I knew then I was right in the vibe I was picking up. This was a special night – for us, definitely, for Taylor, I don’t know what it could have been. But those few words said a lot!

I remember hearing that Taylor was supposed to have recorded a song at the Ray Charles Studio, but time ran out before he got to. He told us he would get to when he recorded his next album. Alright! The song, “The Right Place” was supposed to have been recorded there, and when I think about the fact that the song was actually written for Ray Charles, I can’t help but get chills! Here was Taylor Hicks with his take on this beautiful song!

But first he had to play with the audience. A bit of starting the song and waiting for us to sing along….If it’s lovin’ that you want’! Come on, Taylor, it’s your voice we really want to hear!

The set ended with “The Runaround”. Another interesting tag, some “MoJo Working” found its way into the song. The energy was still high. I think it was during this song that a little girl, maybe 5 or 6 or 7 was kneeling on the stage. Someone lifted her up and Taylor took her hand and danced with her! What a thrill that was for that child! And the look of joy on both the child’s and Taylor’s faces said they were having a ball!

It was a two song encore tonight: “Take the Long Way Home” and “Soul Thing”. The harp in the first of the two songs was outstanding! Even though I had heard it before, it was like hearing for the first time. The tone and wail of the harp was haunting and chilling. I actually expected Taylor to walk off the stage just playing his harp.

Often “East Bound and Down” gets tagged into “Soul Thing”, and tonight was no different. Well, maybe a little. Taylor Hicks, the rapper, was rapping out the words and I had to listen very closely to realize what he was actually singing! What a versatile entertainer Taylor really is! Between the dance moves, the twirling, the flying shirt tail and the harp, tonight was a show like none other!

I told a friend that the blog for this show would have some things I don’t usually express even if I see or feel it. But tonight, it was as if Taylor was making love to the entire audience, and when it was over, we all needed that afterglow cigarette! The show was wonderful, that’s the best I can say. Was it the best I had ever seen? I can’t say for sure. But the energy and vibe was definitely different. Taylor Hicks seemed like a man who was exactly where he wanted to be with his career, doing exactly what he wanted to be doing. He appeared happy and that happiness transcended into the energy of the show. I don’t know what was going on inside his head, but whatever it was, I hope it sticks around and I get to see another show like I just saw, and feel what I just felt.

With Pompano Beach tomorrow night, I can only hope Taylor gets some much needed rest, and me, too, for that matter! I’ll catch up you then as the Traveling Circus moves down the Florida coast to take on another night with the incredible Taylor Hicks!

Pictures from Clearwater

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great job. I'm glad you made it to the concert before it was over. One of these times, I'm just going to have to tell the hubby I'm running away to see Taylor. Meh, who am I kidding? You know what I'm talking about. :P

B :)

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