I know I just said (like, Tuesday) that I wouldn’t be doing any more Taylor features, but I can’t pass this one up.
brc made it back from a wonderful Taylor Hicks concert experience with her 6 year old, EMC, last night. She had a couple of very positive experiences regarding Mr. Hicks that I thought were worth sharing here. While there may have been some inconsistencies of Taylor “enthusiasm” among the Meet & Greets, it apprears that Taylor has found a niche that can show his soft side, satisfy the fans, cultivate good PR and not have to “risk” too much. Concentrate on the kids…pretty simple and relatively safe. And, scores HUGE points with the Moms.
Anyway, here is the wonderful recap from brc and the Joliet concert:
I spontaneously took my daughter (we’ll call her EMC) to see Taylor Hicks last night in Joliet.
What follows is my recap (both personal and musical) of the evening:
Around 3:45pm, EMC and I head out the door to see Taylor. The day is dreary and it’s drizzling. I’m excited to see Taylor for a second time, but have low expectations. I saw him in March at the House of Blues in Chicago and the show and the venue were so great I’m pretty sure it would be hard to beat. We point the car in the direction of Joliet and off we go. We are pleasantly surprised that in spite of it being rush hour we arrive in Joliet in just 90 minutes. EMC seems enthusiastic, but really has no idea what a concert like this is all about. She is only 6 years-old and just knows that she loved Taylor on American Idol.
She asks in the car if he will sing Do I Make You Proud. I explain that he will not.
We park the car, take a few photos in front of the very beautiful theater and ask a police officer where we can eat. Apparently this area of Joliet can get seedy at night, so Officer Friendly advises me and EMC to stay close and points out a nice bar/grill across the street. Nice bar/grill is PACKED with Taylor fans. It is also filled with smoke, but we’re tough and we’re hungry, so we stay. We (the two of us) are seated at a table that can fit six people. I see the line of people waiting to eat and feel bad, so after a few minutes I suggest to the manager that we wouldn’t mind if other people were seated at our table. We are then joined by two women. One 50ish and one 70ish. The 70ish woman is wearing a t-shirt that says “You’ve Come to the Right Place” in REALLY big letters. I try to stifle my laughter and not pee in my pants. We discuss Taylor, AI and the venue. A pleasant conversation and the food was passable. Dinner is done and EMC and I move on.
I had been telling EMC about Taylor’s purple bus and promised her that we could find it and take a picture there. We easily find the bus behind the theater and we’re the only people there. Not a soul around. It is lightly raining and the wind chill is 40 degrees. I’m assuming that Taylor is not nearby or there would likely be others standing around. Brian Less comes out the stage door and heads to the door of the bus. I yell “Brian,” not knowing what I’m going to say next. He walks over…I make some chit chat about the show at the HOB and ask if he thinks this will be as good. He then states that I might be pleasantly surprised. I ask if he would pose for a photo with EMC (who has no idea who he is). He very nicely does so and even asks her her name. I tell her that Brian is one of Taylor’s best buddies. This makes EMC happy
At this point it is 7:00 and the opening act is due to begin at 7:30. It’s pretty cold and I’m ready to suggest to EMC that we go inside. Then a security guard at the stage door waves us over. He says to us… are you listening… the security guard… the man who’s supposed to be keeping people away, says to us — “Taylor is on the bus.” EMC’s eyes light up and she asks me if we can knock on the door. EMC doesn’t understand why I won’t let her. Random people go in and out of the bus. We see Loren. We say hi to Ted (alltheanswers). But, still no Taylor. I suggest several times that we should go inside, but EMC is determined to see Taylor. Just as we’re about to leave, Melanie and Josh walk out of the bus and head straight toward us. Apparently, Taylor has taken pity on us standing in the rain and has sent out an autographed photo for EMC. I’m too stunned to ask them to pose for a photo. We thank them profusely and finally go inside.
The theater is beautiful. Very old fashioned. The show is completely sold out. The crowd is very diverse… lots of men and a surprising number of children. We have wonderful seats in the 4th row. The Greyhounds have already started their set by the time we get to our seats. I decide to try to figure out the digital camera I got for Christmas. The photos I took at the HOB were not great. So I take some practice pictures of the Greyhounds. Bad camera is not cooperating, so I spend the entire break before Taylor takes the stage reading the instruction manual (yes I brought it with me). I still don’t understand how to work the settings, but do learn that the camera has video capabilities — this makes me happy (and hopefully will make you happy soon too)! EMC is fidgety and asking when she will see Taylor. It’s 8:30 now. This is her normal bedtime and the concert hasn’t started yet. Mommy starts to worry, but EMC has done a pinky-swear with me that she wouldn’t cry even if she got tired, so I’m hopeful.
Finally, the moment arrives. The show starts and Taylor comes out. Everyone stands and suddenly our 4th row seats are not so hot. EMC can’t see a thing. She and the other children around us all stand on their seats and life is good.
Taylor starts out with Give Me Tonight then moves right into Soul Thing. He is in fine voice tonight. Very clear and strong. The crowd sits down except for the woman in front of EMC. When I ask her (very nicely I might add) if she planned to sit down she emphatically said she did not. When I pointed out that several children were sitting behind her, she said “I don’t care.” This is a 40-something year-old woman! EMC moves to my lap which makes taking photos and videos a challenge. The photo thing isn’t working out anyway. Everything is blurry or too dark — damn camera.
Taylor segues into Hell of a Day. I’m groovin’ on it when I realize that he’s tagging it with Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Anyway, I think this is way cool and decide to give bad camera another shot. So, here I give you a link to my first video uploaded to YouTube.
(After I got home and saw that this worked I apologized to bad camera.)
He sings Dream Myself Awake, Heart and Soul and Wherever I Lay My Hat. They were fine but aren’t my favorites. He teased Heart and Soul with “Brown-eyed Handsome Man.” I actually liked the tease better than the song itself.
Then he said he was going to sing a really old song called “My Friend.” I hadn’t heard this before and I love hearing him sing new stuff, so I decided to try the video thing again. This was one of my favorite songs of the evening. It was very up-tempo and melodic. Simple, but very satisfying. Between wiggly daughter on my lap and nasty woman in front of us, the visual on this video isn’t great, but you can get a sense of the song
So I’m expecting another song from the album now and he launches into Run Baby Run. Fantastic! His voice sounds great. This is a totally different set than what he did at the HOB. I had seen that he was performing this in some cities but had never heard it before.
The crowd is really into it, though I have to say that the vibe in a sit-down theater is not nearly as intense as it is in a general admission place like the House of Blues.
HOTYL is next. One of my favorite Taylor originals. He starts in with the reggae teases — so cool, then he transitions into a more bluesy mode, he adds some mean harp. Well you just had to hear it. He has now done three songs in a row that were not from the current album and I’m loving it. EMC is starting to get tired and crabby now. Bad mommy is now questioning the wisdom of bringing a 6 year-old to a concert. I suggest that she curl up in her seat and just listen to the music.
Taylor sings The Deal, and Heaven Knows. I look down and EMC is ASLEEP… in her seat… in the middle of a concert. She woke up during The Right Place and perked up when he got to Runaround (I think The Maze was in there somewhere). In fact, by then she was standing on her seat dancing. He did Taking it to the Streets for an encore – he was really “on” tonight in his vocals. During the encore Taylor sat with Brian Less and played some keyboards.
Overall, the concert exceeded my expectations. He sang several songs I hadn’t heard before, he tagged and teased all over the place (there was some Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye and Ray Charles in there somewhere). He played the harp at least 4 times, if not more. It was great. You can’t deny what a great entertainer he is. And to top it off, as he’s leaving the stage he walks down the steps and hands his harmonica to a young (maybe 10 years old) disabled boy in a wheelchair who had been rockin’ and boppin’ to the music all night. I get a lump in my throat.
I now move into supermommy mode and plan to scram outta there and get this kid in bed. As we walk toward the door EMC says “Let’s go stand by the purple bus.” Seriously. That’s what she said. It is now colder than it was earlier and raining a bit harder. But hey, if the kid wants to see Taylor up close and personal, who am I to deny her? So we walk back to the busses where there is a crowd of about 50 people. EMC being such a small thing and oblivious to concert/fan etiquette, charges her way to the front and stakes her ground, stuffed animal in hand. I’m stuck behind three rows of people. I manage to work my way to the front excusing myself but explaining that I have to keep an eye on my daughter. We wait about 15 minutes and Da Man himself walks out with pen in hand and Brian Less holding his umbrella. Brian, the keyboard player, relegated to umbrella holder. (After reviewing photographic evidence, it has been determined that Mr. less handed off umbrella responsibilities to a FOT named Bill.)
I can’t get the flash to work on bad camera. In the meantime, Taylor has made eye contact with EMC. I think he recognizes her from our pathetic wait in the rain before the show. After signing a couple of autographs he walks over to her and says “How ya doin’ darlin’?” and crouches down to her level. I’m several feet away desperately trying to get bad camera to work. He then says to her “You got something you want me to sign?” EMC is holding her stuffed animal. She doesn’t know what an autograph is. Taylor starts to sign the skirt on her animal and she says. “I just want a hug.” He then obliges and my little EMC wraps her arms around Taylor’s waist. I don’t have it on film, but I’ll never forget it. She was so happy.
The best Bad Camera had to offer ^^^^EMC’s head
We walk to the car. EMC puts her jammies on and I buckle her in for the ride home. She quickly calls grandma on the phone to tell her she has scored a hug from Taylor and we head home. I then look in the rearview mirror and EMC is asleep. She still has a big smile on her face. It was a good night.