OhSoDevine's Milwaukee Recap
What a great day! The calendar read August but it was in the 70's, sunny with a beautiful breeze. My daughters and I were planning to head downtown so we could park, shop and do dinner before the concert. That was until Hot4 made an entry here that she had M&G passes and might have extras.
I begged, as you all witnessed, and Hot and I arranged for me and my two girls to meet her and Hothubby at will call about 3:45. There was no guarantee because another couple was supposed to attend. She and I were planning to meet up with the others anyway, how could I possibly lose?
Looking for parking took us past the Bradley Center where my youngest screamed that she had spotted Chris outside talking to people. At the time we went by (about 3:00) there was not really a crowd by the gates, so I figured she had mistaken someone else for Chris. But I made the illegal u-turn anyway,swung back and lo and behold, it WAS Chris outside the gates.
We made a beeline to the Pfister parking garage a few blocks away and the first spot was on the 6th floor. My girls took off down the stairway (they are both competitive swimmers and in outstanding shape) and I had no choice but to follow. I got them safely across the busy intersection and then told them to run ahead. They wanted to do the right thing and wait for me but the thought of seeing Elliott and the others got their feet moving.
They arrived at the gates to the parking lot and not only was Chris outside, but Elliott was there. Chris was signing things and saying hello into people's cell phones. He had been out awhile and headed back in shortly after we arrived. Elliott took his time, taking pictures, talking on cell phones, signing autographs, hugging and hi-5ing kids. No hurry, nothing. There was still not a big crowd, which really surprised me.
Once Elliott left we decided to head over to the will call window to wait for Hot and Hothubby. We were surrounded by a group of radio station M&G winners and ticket scalpers. Quite a combination.
My daughters continued to harass me about the fact that I, their mother, had met someone on the internet, had passed along my email address and cell phone number willingly and was now standing in downtown Milwaukee waiting to meet this person. How could I begin to explain that I felt as if I knew this person already and trusted them completely? I could not.
A bit later a very attractive young woman and her equally handsome husband rounded the corner and headed for the will call window. I told my girls that had to be them but I did not want to rush them at the ticket window. Hot and Hothubby turned around and we looked at each other and just burst out laughing. Partly because we knew most people do not meet this way and partly out of relief that we were not internet predators. Whew!
Introductions were made and we talked and waited. It did not dawn on me for quite a bit that their friends were not coming and they would have two extra M&G passes that they were going to let us have. OMG, how did we get so lucky? Two passes, three people...now what?? The girls told me that they wanted me to go in and they would just wait outside because they had already met Elliott and I, being a mom, told them that they were going to go in and I would wait for them. My youngest adamantly disagreed and told me that she had her whole life to meet the idols.
So, we met up with kumachen and friend and they were ready to go in. Hothubby then went up to the person handling the M&G and tried to finnagle a ticket for us. Hot joined him and they came back and said it didn't look good, they were being strict. As Hot mentioned, they were denying a couple of other moms entry who had small kids going in with a group. (Note to self: I would not like the M&G coordinator job.)
Suddenly, Hothubby was at the coordinator's side and she quickly slid him an extra pass. I could not believe it. These nice Hot4 people going to bat so the three of us could go. Thank you still doesn't cover it.
We could see Taylor in between the buses on his cell phone and every time he walked out from between the buses, cheers erupted and he would step back. What he didn't realize was that these buses are reflective and he was still very visible. Someone next to us mentioned that he had been out earlier and would only sign "dollar bills or skin"...I could not decipher if she was kidding or not so form your own opinions on that one.
Elliott reached our holding spot and we could not believe our good fortune. He read my daughter's "I (heart) Elliott shirt, front to back and gave her a hug and a hi-5. He asked her name and then signed the back of it. I asked how he was feeling and how he was holding up and he said he was doing okay. He was excited that the Milwaukee show marked the halfway mark on the tour. He spoke with my older daughter and then asked if we wanted a picture. The girls said yes and as I was getting ready to take it, a kind man in a "Yaminion" shirt said I needed to be a part of the picture and took one of all of us. You can see it in the other thread...I look like a giant with the three of them and have asked daughters to crop me out before releasing any other copies.
Elliott took his time finishing up with the crowd. He did not leave until each person had time with him and then he gave us that quick little wave that he always gives.
I commented earlier that there were many Elliott fans out near the gate and some were more excited than others to see him. I will not go into detail but if he allowed, they were going to rock his world in more ways than one. This just might be the one time that his loss of hearing could be considered a blessing.
As we were waiting for the M&G, there was some hoopin' and hollerin' over at the gates by the buses again. My girls took off once they saw it was Taylor who had emerged for the second time. Hot and I took a few seconds, looked at each other and then at Hothubby and took off ourselves and yes, we were both running. Running....I can only imagine what we looked like.
Taylor had a bodyguard or some sort of security personnel with him who kept him moving a pretty brisk pace. Hot and I, both adults, found ourselves at a loss for words and unsure of what to do now that we had our man right there in front of us. WTF?? This is our opportunity to set ourselves apart from all the others (haha) and we failed miserably. Hothubby had shown up and pretty much put Hot right there with Taylor for a picture - he is a great husband.
My girls were farther down the line and they said hello and took a picture with him. He was kind to them and I have to say this. As a parent, there is nothing that says respect more (at least for me) when other adults, especially famous, busy ones, show kindness to your children. Elliott, Ace, Mandisa, Lisa and Paris were wonderful examples of that.
It was then time for the M&G. At this point my girls were talking non-stop to Hot4 and Hothubby. It was like they had known them for years, which was a compliment to the Hots.
We finally headed in and the idols were lined up with pop tarts and water bottles lining the table. We were handed pictures to be autographed. I am nervously giggling at this point and did not stop the entire time I was in there. How silly I must have looked. Chris and Bucky had the "on vocal rest" signs in front of them and so we tried a little sign language with Chris and then spoke to Bucky. He just sat there and grinned the entire time. Told Kelly Pickler that we enjoyed her on the View. Mandisa and Lisa spoke with my girls, asking their names and signing their pictures. Ace greeted each person as they walked through, shook hands, asked if they were having a good time, etc. Not an act, folks, this is who he is. Did I mention how big he is? Broad shoulders, big and sexy hair, and a 1000 watt smile. Very impressive. Elliott pointed out my youngest's shirt and even though it did not mention Ace, he read it all and smiled and told her it was cool. My daughters are now madly in love wiht Ace...so fickle those young ones.
We finished with Elliott and Paris, who were very sweet and Katherine and Taylor were at the end. My young nephews had made me a shrinky dink keychain of Taylor Hicks for my birthday this year and he signed that for me. Said it was a first for him...yippee!!
And then it was over....very quickly. We were back in the lobby with Hot and Hothubby, silly grins on each of us.
I will refer you next to Hot's recap about the after party tickets. She was in an impossible situation and it was easy for us to give the tickets to kumachen. This day was turning out to be so much more than we ever expected. I could not be greedy.
We went to dinner with the Hots and had a delightful time. Thank you MJ for giving us the opportunity to know each other. If they didn't live so far away, they'd be invited here next weekend for dinner. As I mentioned yesterday, I want the two of them next to me when Taylor's solo concert comes through town.
We split up to find our seats at the Bradley Center. The makeup of the crowd was quite interesting. Many families and extended families - mom, dad, grandparents. There were very young children, teenagers, young adults and many a senior citizen. Oh, and an abundance of us middle agers. I also loved watching the older couples, dressed up like they were on a date, enter the venue. We had quite a few around us. There were lots of homemade shirts being sported.
The family behind us was all dressed in white. Their t-shirts were homemade with Soul Patrol on the back and his picture from Fade Away night on the front. Grandma started talking to me and she had brought her husband, kids and grandkids to see the concert. They had nosebleed seats but checked at the will call when they arrived and she paid another $170 to upgrade. She said it didn't matter because she had just won $6000 at the casino the day before. This was the same woman who cried like a baby when Taylor finally came out.
Lots of fun texting beforehand. My favorite had to be one that simply said "where's Bo". For whatever reason the Giant PopTarts garnered much applause. I still don't understand it, but the girls liked the new flavor.
We were seated on the side - they were very good seats and we could see everything. I could see the Hots and kumachen from where we sat and I think I know who pj was. The arena was full of happy people. My daughters kept on repeating that they couldn't believe we were so lucky.
The concert started a bit late - about 7:20.
The concert was great. I had never been to an AI concert and we enjoyed every second of it. The band came out to cheers and a video montage of the season played. Mandisa was first up. Strikingly beautiful woman with an amazing voice that filled the arena. Red top, black capris with sparklies on her face. (I think she took some of Hots bedazzler supplies.)Worked the entire stage and was the perfect choice to open the show. I agree with Hot...what was with the beaded black towel thingy? I thought it was to wipe her brow, but she never did. I must not be up on my accessories. She did not speak of Rueben, but wanted some good Milwaukee men. Spoke to the young people as well.
I mentioned this last night but want to say it again. Every idol commented about the crowd and how receptive we were. A couple of them mentioned how easy we made it for them and they seemed almost overwhelmed by the applause. Genuinely seemed moved and wowed by it all.
Ace joined Mandisa on stage to the delight of many. My daughters stood and cheered their new friend like crazy. I should have been more prepared for the heart thumping thing but I was not. It was an odd picture to see on the jumbotron but everyone moved on from that once he took his jacket off. Cheesy, yes, but no one seemed to mind. Purple shirt underneath with big red belt buckle. Launched a beanie into the crowd a row behind Hot. Both Ace and Bucky have Farrah Fawcett hair and both whipped it around during the headbanging they did on their sets. (Yes, I said headbanging when referencing an American Idol concert!) Ace was much better than on AI and knows just how to "use what his momma gave him". He will be successful. Speaking of his parents, this was their first concert on the tour and he spoke of them with much love.
Next up was Lisa - beautiful and sweet. I thought she was also better than what we saw on AI. Reminded me more of her audition. She worked the crowd and many of the idols went down into the front rows and greeted fans. The Elton John songs meant something to her and again, she was visibly moved by the crowd's response. So much poise from such a young woman. Elegant was the word that came to mind.
Best friend Paris joined her on stage for Waterfalls. Very hard to hear Paris during this song. Both girls looked great. They, too, had some of Hot's bedazzler supplies. Then Paris asked us to head to Georgia with her. I thought she did well on this one, maybe because the reviews had pegged her as not doing well. The Beyonce number was..ummm...how do I say. I'll say it this way, she dances beyond her years. Does that make sense? She gave Taylor a run for his money as far as sheer movement on the stage.
Bucky was next and came out with a lot of energy even though we knew his vocals were suffering. He scatted all about the stage and really likes to put his one foot up and then jam a bit. He had his foot up on the railing, on the steps by the band, down in the crowd. He is one skinny guy, but always with the smile. His vocals were not strong, but the crowd helped him out with Drift Away. We liked him better with his hat on.
Miss Kellie Pickler (as Bucky called her) joined him for the Grease tune. This was just fun. Kelly looks great with her natural hair. They laughed through their entire song, did their Grease moves and then Bucky just loped off the stage. Kelly spoke to the crowd about how appreciative she and the other idols were. Just makes you laugh listening and watching her. She seemed fine vocally, not holding back and really belting it out. The crowd loved her. There is a picture in my photobucket of two little boys sitting in front of us. They went wild for her.
We're back and ready to go. I forget that not everyone knows the order of the concert so when Chris came out, the crowd went wild. He must have been in a hurry and forgot to button his shirt all the way - open to his navel . He is still singing in that upward pose - but sure does it well. I think all the men in the crowd thought it was finally okay to stand up and move to the music during his set. After his first song he thanked the crowd and reiterated how poorly he has been feeling but this crowd made it all worthwhile....even flashed us a couple of smiles. He, too, ran all over the stage and down into the crowd. There were a group of young women to our left who had had a few and were absolutely crazy nuts for him. He made sure they knew he saw them which just about sent them over the railing and onto the stage. (Reminded me of my behavior at my first REO Speedwagon concert.)
Bucky and Chris both asked everyone to hold up their cell phones and lighters and Bucky even asked us to light matches if we had them. Bucky, Bucky, Bucky....we can't do that. Chris was very, very good and as I looked around, everyone was either on their feet or at least bopping their head to the music. Vocal rest or not, he sang like it was his first concert. Chris spoke briefly about his album - no specifics - and launched numerous guitar picks into the audience.
Elliott joined him on stage for their duet. Again, much love in Milwaukee for the idols. These two sounded fabulous together. Whoever had the idea to put this duet together deserves big props. It was a highlight for us. Chris left and Elliott continued with his set. Nothing wrong with his vocals tonite...man,oh,man, can he sing. He engaged the crowd, smiling, asking where his ladies were, blowing kisses, and doing his signature wave. He was one who commented on how easy it was to be on stage with a crowd like this. Trouble was great - really gets into that song and seems to have gotten more confident with it over time. Very sassy. I cannot wait to buy his album. I think he'll surprise many.
The boys came out for their group number which was outstanding. These are a group of young men who truly know how to work together to deliver something special. There is no denying the ease in which they perform together and feed off of each other. Each of them complimented the other and I would have liked to hear more from them. Again, kudos to whomever came up with this idea.
Two, Three, Four....and Kat started her set from the top of the stage. On her knees in the long black dress. I know it is an improvement over the white gown, but just a bit formal and dangerous given her cast. The crowd was very welcoming and receptive and she seemed moved and appreciative of it. BHCT was good and she interacted with the band and even danced a little. She rubbed the head of the man playing the noisemaker thingy and he gave her a big 'ol smile. She spoke a bit about her vocal rest and that like she had been cleared for like only two songs. No mention of the foot. She then sang SOTR which was very good and the crowd thoroughly enjoyed it. Her voice sounded strong.
Okay, where is he? Where is he going to come from? On my feet when JHR started and he was coming from the back of the arena. It is so fun to watch those who have no idea what is going on. They could hear him, but could not see him yet. Looking at the stage very confused. Taylor made his way through the floor sections, weaving in and out, high fiving as he went. It appeared for a moment he was going to head up Hot's row but at the last minute he changed directions. Taylor's set seemed to go way too fast. Was it just the frenetic pace at which he conducts himself or was it that one song was done as he came on stage? I don't know, just seemed fast. Hollywood Nights was great and now everyone was on their feet. My entire section was up, seniors and all. Loved HN and the story it told. Sadly, no red guitar and no Don't Let Me Down.
Livin'For the City was great as was DIYMP. I think Taylor is most comfortable being Taylor when he is one with the music. No questions to answer, no pictures to pose for, nothing but him and his instruments. I will never forget his first AI performance of TITTS. It was if he was transported to a different place and had to snap out of it when he was done. He does go somewhere else when he is on stage. He was very appreciative of the crowd and covered every inch of the stage. Did I mention the grandma behind me was weeping during his entire set? And chanting repeatedly how gorgeous he was. He made sure to thank the band and even brought the guy who brings the guitars to the performers out on stage for us to applaud for. Classy.
He left through those magical tin foil doors and the crowd went nuts asking for an encore. Stamping feet, clapping hands and screaming, screaming, screaming. The band walked off stage and turned right back around and came back. Then our newest Green Bay Packer comes out the magic doors. OMG...what an entrance. Perfect, perfect, perfect. There was a commotion behind us at that time with these two women screaming hysterically about something and running up and down the aisle. Seriously, we thought something horrible had happened. But then one of them got a hold of herself and announced that they had given him that jersey.
TITTS was Taylor at his best. These dance moves cannot be choreographed. His body must feel something more than the average person. Crazy footwork and arm windmilling with a Farve jersey was just something you had to see. His harp playing is awesome. Smart man, that Taylor Hicks.
He disappeared again and then the other idols came out for We are the Champions. They did a great job with it. Taylor and Katherine joined them for Livin' In America and there was much silliness to this number. The circle walking made me think of musical chairs for some reason. Elliott had on his Marquette Dwayne Wade jersey and everyone else was dressed casually. Ace threw a beanie, Bucky threw his hat and both he and Chris continued to throw guitar picks. Oh yes, during Paris' set, she went into the crowd and appeared to be handing out some sort of bracelets??
They did the cheesehead shout outs, Milwaukee shout outs and the crowd loved it. Ace did his run and jump routine which everyone gasped at. They all left the stage and a few minutes later came running back out to take a bow and wave again. They didn't seem to want to leave the stage and we didn't want them to. Taylor introduced each one of them by name and then one by one they left. Taylor was last and spent some time playing harp with the band and putting his mic in with the drummer. he waved again, mouthed his thanks and the magic doors swallowed him up.
It was time to go. Part of me wishes a little bit that I had seen one of the first concerts when everyone was fresh, in good voice, and Taylor played more songs. But I realize how fortunate I was to be able to be there at all. I met up with kumachen and Hot for a group pic and they headed off to the after party. My daughters and I were approached and subsequently followed by two ladies who were offering over $100 for their autographed pictures. No thank you ladies, those are special.
The souvenir tables were swamped and there were no Elliott pins left anywhere. Both my girls picked up Ace buttons, though and they came back with a Taylor one for me. The outside area by the buses was massively crowded and my girls and I headed down the street to find our car. No running this time, just walking and still a bit dumbfounded at how our day turned out.
Hot4 and Hothubby - what more can I say to you?