Chuckles Atlanta GA Recap

Ok folks - I've been lurking over here long enough. I'm an immigrant from Gray's board, and I was lucky enough to have perloined -ahem - obtained free tix for tonight's concert at the Gwinnett Arena here in Duluth Georgia.

I've had a chance to enjoy the recaps others have posted here, and given that I've basically leeched a lot of free info from y'all, I thought I'd add a quick recap of tonite's Pop Tart-a-rama from the Southern perspective. This is not to say that Yankees don't tell the truth: but y'all do still ge that Civil War results thing wrong ( ;-P ), so here we go...

The Gwinnett Arena is a 10,000 seat, friendly arena situated about 45 minutes drive Northeast from downtown Atlanta. It is quickly gathering a reputation among promoters of being a very headliner-friendly facility, due to the newness of the venue, easy and FREE parking, and the great crown response varied acts have seen there. It's one of the arenas that AOL has chosen to be a 'Live nation' event arena that they are closed-circuit broadcasting concerts from.

Tonite's concert started at 7pm (which is about an hour early for most concerts held there) so the crowd arrived early and, for the most part, was in good spirits since they opened the doors 2 hours before the event and folks didn;t have to stand in 100 degree weather waiting to get in.

The usual assortment of AI chotchke prevailed - brown is the color of shirt this year BTW for folks looking forward to the tour - and the Pop Tart refrigerators stood gard over the booths while various karaoke booths placed on both sides of the area drew happy crowds as 50-something ladies tried their best to channel Patsy Cline.
My daughter, who's 11 and performs here in Atlanta, was a 'ringer' and sang "Jesus, Take the Wheel". I suggest and families with kids go early and sign up to let their kid take a turn. It's fun to hear folks in back say "hey, she might be on AI someday". Not with THOSE contracts, she's not!
But I digress...

The show started 15 minutes late, as is the norm it seems on this tour. One of the backstage folks is a buddy, and he mentioned the section we were in was populated with family & friends (Miss Ann Nesby, Taylor's brother, some of Mandisa's folks and others were around us near the east corner of the stage. And yes, Rodney Ho of the AJC brought his laptop, and our usher told him to shut that thing off as the lights went down for Mandisa. Heheheheh.

I won't repeat the song list here, but instead I'd like to give a quick rundown of what it looked like to someone who has lived with these folks as a part of their last 7 months, as well as a noobie who barely knows who Ace is.

Mandisa: definitely has lost weight. It's made her voice stronger, and she mentioned her local connection to a radio station here that paid for her trip to audition for AI.

Ace: my daughter HATES him. She calls him a 'poser' and compares his 'stare' at the end of 'Father figure' to the look Nicholas Cage gives to the female lead in most of his movies. Looks kinda like a basset hound. To me, his vocals have improved.

Lisa: as at other performances, the crowd response before she sits down to play keyboard & sings Elton John tunes is like the air going out of a balloon. But, she seemed to suprise at least a few of the folks sitting aound us who said "she can play piano?". I explained her Disney connection and that she played several instruments, and they seemed to be impressed.

Paris: folks that came out before Paris mentioned that this was the 'home town' concert for Paris. Well, not exactly. Paris has lived in Georgia, but also in Minnesota, and the local connection was, well, not from THIS part of Georgia, and well, folks didn't know what to do with her booty-lishioness. Yes, she got GREAT crown pop from the ubiquitous 'it's great to be back home' comments, but all in all, she's a great singer that wants to be a dancer. And the folks here didn't give her the 'omygawditsdianadegarmo' reception that Lil Miss Star Spangled Banner got here last year. Still, I sure hope she grows up fast, 'cause this young lady has a GREAT future ahead of her.

Bucky: yep, the Bucksters were out in FORCE. If you know anything about Georgia, you'ld know that Bucky could be your next door's neighbor's brother. He's got a niche here that, with the right music & touring partners (say, opening for Toby Keith) he'd be huge. That being said, he too was much improved from AI. His performance skills and audience command are 180 degrees from the shy Bucky from AI. Yes, he did announce Miss Kellie was on voice rest for the next 3 shows. Wht y'all didn't hear was the conversation I heard during intermission behind us between the mama of Taylor's girlfriend and the vocal therapist that is on the tour!

It seems that the flu went thru the busses over the last 3 weeks - everyone got it at one time of another (Mandisa is taking Airborne to avoid getting it again), but Kellie had to shut it down after Charlotte 'cause she was showing signs of nodules on the chords. Not bruising like Kat, but full blown nodules. Folks, it could be longer than a week. BTW: he wore the 'Kat-Kellie' black hoodie on stage & near the front rail that the roadies set up to create a barrier between the front row of seats & the stage. Apparently it's a standard barrier they use for this show to allow performers to touch the crowd and to enter from the front (like Taylor does later). Folks not performing (like Mandisa, Elliott, Kellie and Paris) hide & sit on this barrier & cheer each other on.

Chris: Daughtry is golden. As long as than man keeps his voice strong, east his Wheaties and takes his vitamins like the Hulkster, he's gonna be HUGE. Let me put it this way: I saw a mid 20's big Southern boy stop buying beer to go listen to him. I mean leave the line running at a sprint to go back to his seat. He's gonna be the next Clarkson, as long as he avoids the stuff that kills performers (like ego, bad management, druggzzzz, the lifestyle, etc.) The crowd went mental. You'd have thought Hank Jr. just started sing "Tell me Hank, whyyyy do you drink" from the crowd pop.

Elliott: bigger crowd pop than Chris. Atlanta loves them some Yamin. His machine gun vibrato is toned down, he's grrroowling some now, and he even looks less like a nice clean cut white boy who has no moves than he did on AI. With the right songs, he's gonna be successful as well. No doubt.

Ms. Kat: The black prom dress was in. The soft cast on her left foot was black, too. Color coordination is important, don't cha know.
She hobbled downstage, sang "Black Horse" and mentioned that was her 1st time in Georgia, in that 'hey, you folks aren't all missing teeth and wearing ragged clothes' way. Still I feel sorry for her: she must REALLY have pissed The Big Guy off for the bad Karma she's gotten. The voice is at 80% - vocal lady said she's not gonna sing 3 songs till maybe September. And the 3rd won't be My Destiny - bet on it. Bless Her Heart™

(By the way - Southern folks can say just about anything the want about someone, even it's the ugliest comment imaginable - as long as they add 'bless their heart™' after it and they won't go straight to Hell. It's a fact.)

Taylor: for those who asked - Taylor entered from the top of section 104-105, came down thru the center of the arena floor, hung a right at the end of section f8-f5, and hugged the left side of the arena as you faced the stage all the way up to the barrier. So, for those who wanna stalk the Man From Hoover in September when he returns, there's your path.

Taylor was by far the best received act there. His crowd pop sent folks standing in front of me into leaps of joy. I believe he's developing an opening and closing technique for his act. He opens to an up tempo Elvis tune (like The King did to See See Rider), and leaves after killing the crowd with the harmonica. You could hear echoes of Al Dvorin, the man who coined the phrase "Elvis - has left the building" as Taylor left to do his shirt change.
If you haven't heard Taylor's take on "Hollywood Nights" and you plan on attending an AI concert this year be aware - it's not gonna sound like Bob Seger's version. It has been 'Taylorized'.
And, for the 1st time this year, Taylor got choked up singing 'Do I make you proud' in the 1st verse. He did indeed point to his high school prom sweetie during the set. And, the must-discussed Jagger hand-on-hip move has worked its way into his act. The Soul Patrol will be proud. He's a force of nature, a Southern Tornado that's fixin to roll thru the country and scatter hearts like a bunch of mobile homes. He is the real deal.

Overall, it was the CheeseFest I had hoped for.

My daughter started the year rooting for Paris ('cause of the age similarity and the Georgia connection). Then, she fell into the Cult of Daughtry after 'Walk the Line'. She even became a Yaminian for a week or two. But after she got a listen of my copy of 'Under the Radar' (specifically Soul Thing & The G Bomb), she's been all Taylor. She was one of the thousand or so folks that text messaged our fingers away in Birmingham at the Arena finale night to get TayTay the win. She thought the concert was 'Great!! Can we go back in September? Just - can I bring earplugs so I don't have to listen to Ace?'

As for me: great concert, greatful crowd, and a great future for all 10 of the folks who were, by far, the best AI cast so far. If you can get a chance to go, do it.

One last tip: tickets for most remaining shows will become available in limited quantity a week before the show or sooner as the roadies identify additional sight line approved seats. The stage lends itself to side sections being made available. So, don't despair if seats have been sold out! Try again!