With a couple of ladies in the group having a meet & greet, we decided we would get away early Sunday morning. Not too early, but with sufficient time to leisurely drive to Orlando. As luck would have it, we would ride in and out of rain. I had rubbed my eye the other night, bruising it and leaving it red and swollen. The drive was proving to be more than I could handle so I turned in my rental and rode to Orlando with friends. Thank goodness for friends! They saved my life and vision and their generosity!
Taylor Hicks and crew must have had a similar idea because we saw his bus leaving Pompano Beach for Orlando. Later the bus would pass us while we stopped to refuel our bodies and take a potty break.
The clouds were behind us and the sun was coming out as we neared Orlando. We found our hotel and went inside to check in. What a nice place – the Hyatt Place had just opened in July and was still having the finishing touches put in. Our rooms were very cozy. I even quipped about skipping the show to enjoy the luxury of the rooms! What – miss a show at the Hard Rock Live at Universal Studios? I don’t think so!
We rested for a bit before making our way to Universal Studio’s City Walk. It was going to be a hike from valet parking to the Hard Rock, and the heat only made it seem like it was longer. The meet & greet winners were lining up and we all stood around and chatted for a bit. Since a couple of us didn’t have a meet & greet, we decided to go to the Hard Rock Café and wait for the rest of our group.
Because of the restaurant’s policy of not seating guests until the entire party is there, we decided to split up so we could go ahead and get a table. That turned out to be a wise decision in the end. Our server reminded us of Chris Daughtry but with a much friendlier attitude! He made our time there enjoyable and gave us great service too!
By the time we finished eating, the doors to the venue were open and we could go in and sit down. I had second row seats, near the middle, right where the seats behind us were split into sections. The chairs were hooked together making it impossible to move them out of the way to get to our seats, therefore we had to crawl over other guests to sit down. This little fact – the hooked together chairs – will be important later on!
There were many familiar faces already there so we took some time to chat and catch up. Also, board names I recognized but faces I didn’t were greeted as if we had known each other all along! And then there were people there that were going to experience a live Taylor Hicks concert for the first time!
Our tickets were marked “no cameras” so I left my best camera in the room. I should have realized I could take it into the park, but I didn’t want to take it and not be able to use it. Poor choice again! Cameras were everywhere as well as video cameras! There seemed to be no camera Nazis anywhere in the venue. When you see my pictures, you will know what I’m talking about! The lighting was all behind Taylor and shining in the front few rows’ faces so Taylor would look washed out. I kept them anyway to remind myself of the energy and joy Taylor was exuding during the concert. So please forgive the less than stellar photography!
Just before the show started I was ready to cause a mutiny or stampede out of the venue! On the overhead speakers Chris Daughtry was being played! A couple of us even complained jokingly to security but it didn’t stop the music! We suggested that when Chris plays there, Taylor Hicks music should be piped into the auditorium! I won’t know it they did that ‘cause you won’t find me there for that event!
After being at the Pompano Beach show the night before and feeling it wasn’t the high energy show I’d come to expect, I figured the show at Hard Rock Live would be what Taylor Hicks calls a “kick a$$” performance! Every time Taylor performs at a House of Blues, the performance is of the highest energy level imaginable! And since Hard Rock Live is much like House of Blues (except you could sit in Orlando), I had very high expectations, and I was not disappointed!
The opening montage brought the audience to its feet! And it was still standing when Taylor took the stage singing “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu” and “Hey Pockey Way”. The energy was high and Taylor was smiling like he just won the lottery! Yes, this was going to be a fantastic show!
With “Give Me Tonight”, the audience decided to sit for a bit, and most did so reluctantly. An older couple sat in front of me and even the female stood as much as possible with the assistance of a crutch! Her husband helped her up when necessary and supported her back when needed. She was really into the music and watching Taylor Hicks move, groove and dance!
Taylor’s original song “Heart and Soul” had some “Brown-Eyed Handsome Man” thrown in for good measure! We were back on our feet and moving to the music. By now I realize there is a man sitting behind me that enjoys Taylor as much as I do, and he was really getting into the groove. He was doing as many shout outs to Taylor as Taylor would do for the Soul Patrol! This man was definitely getting Taylor!
With a short introduction as the first single off the album, “Just to Feel That Way” had us swaying and dancing in our seats. It may not have had the radio success we wanted, but performed live, this is one terrific song! It seems I heard a few changes in the melody tonight as Taylor sang this song!
“Anyone have a crazy friend?” generally lets us know “My Friend”, a Taylor Hicks original from “Under the Radar” is about to be sung. Its calypso style beat makes it a fun song. And I can’t help but wonder who the friend was that the song was originally written for!
Time for some Beatles with “Don’t Let Me Down”. I still don’t really remember the Beatles doing this, but whatever; I enjoy Taylor’s version! And if any of the audience was in need of medical attention, “Medicated Goo” would provide just what the doctor would order! It’s one of my favorite covers that Taylor sings on the tour!
“The Deal”, “Gonna Move” and “Heaven Knows” make up the next group of songs. The energy keeps getting more intense and I am constantly shaking my head in amazement! It’s hard to believe when each song gets better each night, but it does! Taylor finishes out the songs from the “Taylor Hicks” album with “The Right Place” and “The Runaround”. By now we all know we are in the right place and it we weren’t already hooked, “The Runaround” would finish us off!
With shout outs of “Taylor Hicks” from Loren, Taylor made his way off the stage, and then returned like he didn’t want to leave. He was teasing us with his coming back and leaving again. After a couple of times of this, he was gone. When the band finished the music, they, too, left.
The mike stand was placed in the center of the stage so we knew an encore was about to take place. By now the crowd is doing everything possible to separate the chairs that separated them from the stage. Chairs were turned over until they came undone. My friend sitting with me was almost trampled as people climbed over chairs to get in front of the stage. I had been warned by the young man who showed me to my seat. But I was expecting security to make sure that sort of thing didn’t happen. No such luck! I wasn’t prepared for this type of scene but it happened none the less.
Out came everyone including Taylor. “Take the Long Way Home” was starting the encore. The harmonica in this song is killer and I’ve said it before, I half expect Taylor to leave the stage playing only the harmonica. Maybe waving as he left, maybe not, but just walking off playing the harmonica. The song gives me chills whenever he does it.
The concert was going to end on a very upbeat sound with “Soul Thing”, another pre-Idol song written by Taylor years ago. A woman I had seen during the spring tour had flowers for Taylor. She laid them on the stage. As Taylor bent over to pick them up I thought I saw her grab Taylor’s arm or leg to try to get a kiss or give him a kiss. Taylor got away from her and when he moved back near the drums, put the flowers in his mouth and danced a few steps before leaving the stage. The band finished the song, and then it was officially over.
As we gathered our troupe outside the venue, we talked to one of the guys that worked at the venue. He wasn’t too excited to have to watch Taylor Hicks but after seeing Taylor perform, was really impressed by him! Another one reeled in!
Our group decided to make one last stop at the Hard Rock Café for drinks and dessert before heading back to our car. It was a good way to unwind and recap the show. When we finished our bedtime snacks, we headed for the car and then to the hotel. We said our good-byes before going into our rooms. I was leaving very early in the morning to fly home and go to work. Everyone else had the day off and was going to just get up and leisurely drive home.
With only a few hours of sleep to be had, I went straight to bed but lay there with the concert going through my head. When the wake up call came, I was ready to sleep but had to get up. My cab was picking me up at 4:15 am and I didn’t have time to waste. I made it downstairs on time and got to the airport in plenty of time. The flight took off as scheduled, and I slept the entire flight. I was soon sitting at my desk ready for work, and a wishing I were home in bed to recoup from another great week-end of friends and Taylor Hicks!
Pictures from Orlando