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Christina Aguilera Liberation Tour

Saturday October 6th Christina Aguilera brought her Liberation Tour to the Mohegan Sun Arena. The box Office was saying that the Doors were opening at 7pm, there would be no opener and Christina would take the stage at 8pm. I figured I would get home at a reasonable hour but Christina’s countdown to take the stage didn’t actually start until 8:49pm with her taking the stage just before 9pm. Now that she has canceled some shows due to her voice I wonder if there was some sort of delay that caused it or if this is the norm for all her shows. While the tickets came with a free copy of her new album, I hadn’t had a chance to listen to it so I was not familiar with her more recent songs, of which there were several in the set. However, with such a big stage production, even not being able to sing along didn’t really make me feel left out of what all was going on on the stage. She had 4 female dancers and 2 male dancers who sometimes were even out in the crowd during parts of the set. I found it a bit interesting that she was all dressed up in Asian inspired outfits and talked about “looking in the mirror” and singing a song from the beginning – but she did Genie in a Bottle and NOT Reflection from Mulan (which wasn’t in the set at all.) It seemed like that was what she was setting up for so it felt like a missed opportunity to me.
Throughout the show Christina talked to the crowd and thanked her “Fighters” for sticking with her and how she had not been on tour since she was pregnant with her son who is now 10 years old and how her daughter ins now 4 and probably will follow in her footsteps because she is always on the side of the stage watching and looking on.
Towards the end of the show she ended up bringing 2 pairs of fans up on stage with her and it looked like they were having a blast on stage with Christina and her crew!
The show was a ton of fun, Christina’s voice was incredible and I had a blast. Hopefully she gets better soon and can continue on with the tour because anyone who is going to see it is in for a real treat and you can tell how much fun Christina is having during the show!

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Tyler Hilton at Stage One

Tyler Hilton came back to Fairfield as a solo act for the first time in a few years and I was very excited to see him. I did the VIP ticket so I got to hang with him a bit before the show – there were about a dozen of us just hanging out, talking about past shows, making random song requests. (Several of which made it into the set that evening – although I pulled the most obscure song I could think of out as a request moreso to see if he even remembered its existence than for him to actually play it – and he did remember it but wondered how I knew about it!) He practiced a Christmas song he had written for a Lifetime movie that has a bunch of the One Tree Hill cast members in it. He fumbled through it a bit on the piano but said he’d try it out during the show again and hopefully do better (and he did, and he did!) He was happy that the venue had a piano for him to use so he did more songs on that than he usually does, but said he’s not much of a piano player so he kept apologizing that he might mess things up. He did way better than I ever could, so no complaints here! It was great to see him again at Stage One – he mentioned it was one of his favorite venues to play and he always looks forward to coming so hopefully that means that he will come around again soon! We also tried to convince him to book a Christmas gig at Daryls House so maybe that will end up happening as well.

Elton John Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour

Elton John brought his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour to the XL Center in Hartford on September 19th. We had bought tickets what seemed like so far in advance and then before we knew it, the day of the show was upon us! I had taken a peek at the setlist before the show and realized I was familiar with most of the set (and the ones that titles I didn’t recognize I was hoping I would recognize the songs once he had started to play them) but I was super disappointed to see that he had no Lion King songs included ☹ We got to the venue pretty early in an effort to beat traffic and ended up finding we had parked next to a broken escalator so we had to ride a scary elevator instead. While we were waiting for doors we saw the escalator had been fixed, but by the time the show was out the escalator was OFF. So we had to ride the creepy elevator yet again…
We had a couple in front of us who were VERY excited about the show, and turns out they also knew how to use setlist.fm and look up setlists so they discussed the show with us a bit beforehand and said they had seen him a few times before (it was the first (and last!) time for my Mom and I) and it would be the BEST SHOW WE HAD EVER SEEN. After the show my Mom and I agreed – it was a good show but probably not the BEST! EVER! Except neither of us really could decide which show that we had seen was the best.
When we got to our seats, Elton’s piano was furthest from us, but I noticed a track on the stage and figured the piano was going to move. Sure enough, it did, and he did end up over on our side of the stage a couple of times (though never for very long). His band was absolutely incredible backing him and in addition to playing the songs, he told stories about most of them before he started which I always find really interesting in getting the backstory about how songs were written, what they are about, etc.
The stage setup had a brick road all around it with different items of significance throughout Elton’s career included – the broadway shows, etc. I wish we could have gotten a better look at the other side of the stage as well because the detail was amazing! My only disappointment was I thought that he would change his outfit/glasses a bit more than he did – otherwise I have no complaints and it was a great show!

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Hanson at The Big E

Friday September 14th was the first day of the Big E and Hanson was the entertainment for the evening at the Court of Honor Stage.  After finding “handicapped” parking in a pile of mud, we rode a golf cart to the main entrance, took a bit of a walk around and realized 2nd row was up for grabs for the show.  We hit up one of the fried food stations for lunch (funnel cake and deep fried oreos – lunch of champions) and then snagged a spot in the 2nd row for the day, knowing we would be seeing Street Beat at 1pm and 6pm and Blessid Union of Souls at 3pm.  We also had a good laugh that you couldn’t bring any weapons inside – but wonder knifes and the like were readily available for purchase once you made it inside of the fair.

Street Beats first performance left something to be desired, but the second they used a lot of kids as their volunteers from the audience and that seemed to make things a lot more fun and exciting.  Blessid Union of Souls was a pleasant surprise – I had remembered “Hey Leonardo” from the 90s but had completely forgotten they also had a hit with “I Believe”  The lead singer wore a shiny shirt that had to have not been able to breathe at ALL… and he was covered in sweat by the end of their awesome 1 hour set.

Hanson came out for a soundcheck which drew in quite a crowd – many not realizing that it was not their actual set until after they left. (Are there really people out there that think they only play their songs only halfway through during concerts?)  The crowd got larger and larger until the show started at 8pm and I never did manage to turn around to see just how big the crowd got but was told by friends who were in the back that the crowd went allllll the way back.  (Maybe if the have Hanson back they will get to play the bigger stage next time!)  They did a set mixed of hits and other fan favorites and although I probably would have pulled a couple of songs out of the set if I was in charge of making the list, it was a pretty solid setlist.  Very high energy for about an hour and a half!

My one regret was giving up waiting for the guys to come out after the show – when we left and just ended up in stand-still traffic on the highway anyway due to an accident.  Oh well, hindsight is 20/20

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Hanson String Theory Denver

When the Denver, CO date was initially announced I said I was *not* going even though I could have pulled off going for the weekend using NO vacation days at all.  Once I saw the layout of the venue, I ended up getting myself a ticket and started planning the trip.  Initially I decided to fly in on Saturday and out on Sunday, but realized with it being a Friday off from work and the Rockies were in town (For 90s night, no less) it was worth it to cross off hitting up Coors Field for a game from the Bucket List.

The Rockies played the Los Angeles Dodgers and oddly enough, two of the members of the team have a bit of a Hanson connection.  Yasiel Puig was in an ESPN Sports Center commercial that featured “MMMBop” as an “at-bat song” and Joc Pederson had his at-bat music high jacked a few years back to “MMMBop” which resulted in him hitting a grand slam.  The Hanson connection must have worked in the Dodgers favor as they ended up beating the Rockies 4-2. (And sadly, my Rockies fave, Charlie Blackmon, went 0-5 on the night.)

 

Saturday we ended up hitting up the 16th Street Mall for a bit as well as taking a trek out to Red Rocks to see the Amphitheater and the surrounding area.  I was the only one of the group that had been there before so I got to play a bit of “tour guide” and point out where Hanson’s name was on the wall under 1998 – and we were happy to see that it was added for the 2015 show I had attended there as well!

Saturday evening it was time for my 2nd String Theory show.  The venue was just as exciting as I had hoped and the sound was 100x better than I had imagined it would be.  In Pittsburgh, a lot of the songs seemed to be drowned out by Hanson and I wasn’t sure if they were just playing too loudly and the orchestra too softly or if the sound mix wasn’t quite on par or if that’s just how everything was going to end up sounding.  In Denver I had none of those questions and everything sounded completely amazing.  The conductor/maestro Christopher Dragon was also a pleasure to watch as he absolutely got into it the whole show.  Honestly, I think I was watching him more than Hanson for the majority of the show.  From my view he definitely stole the show!  I wish that he could just join the entire tour, he was that great.

The problem with writing this review a week removed from the show is now I can’t remember any of the highlights I had wanted to mention.  This show seemed to go by much, much quicker than the Pittsburgh show, I am not sure if it is because I knew what was coming or because it sounded so amazing and I just didn’t want it to ever end.  Much like Pittsburgh, there seemed to be a natural progression with people deciding to stand up near the end of the show during I Was Born.  Me Myself and I was the song that made me tear up (but not Broken Angel like last show) and there may have been one in the 2nd part as well but I can’t remember now.  It’s kind of funny how the same setlist can hit you in an entirely different way based on what lyrics you are intently paying attention to and what might be going on in your life at that moment.  I’m glad I have Hanson concerts and weekends with my Hanson friends to run away to.

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Hanson String Theory Pittsburgh

If you are trying to stay spoiler free for Hanson’s latest tour, String Theory, then this is a post you are going to want to bookmark and come back to after you have seen the show.  I will be discussing how the show went and include the setlist so this is your warning to leave the page now…

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The Pittsburgh String Theory originally appeared to be the first show of the tour which is why I tried really hard to be there.  Then they added Columbus before hand but that show ended up being a shortened set, so in a way this show was kind of sort of the first show.

Heinz Hall was a beautiful venue and it was fun to see the varying degree of outfits for the show.  Some were dressed to the nines and others had on Hanson tees and jeans as if it was a regular concert.  I was hoping that everyone would sit for the entire show, and while some did try to stand at various points throughout the set (and some opted to dance along the side walls so as not to disturb everyone else) a few songs before the end we were encouraged to stand.  I still opted not to because the seat was LOW and I wasn’t even sure I could get up – and could still see Zac while sitting anyway 😛

Most of the show I was just in awe.  Some of the songs sounded as if they belonged on a movie soundtrack with the addition of the symphony.  Some songs sounded very different than what I was used to, while others just seemed enhanced with the symphony, and others the band almost seemed to drown the symphony out at times.  It was fun to “ignore” Isaac, Taylor and Zac at times and just watch the musicians behind them at times – how they waited for their cue and all started at just the precise right moments.  I didn’t sing along too much, because my jaw spent a lot of time on the floor.  I am glad that I am seeing it several more times throughout the rest of this year and next because in addition to each different symphony putting their own touches on things, I am sure there are little intricacies in the music that I will only pick up on after seeing/hearing it a few times. (And I am very much so looking forward to the CD release in the fall – including an instrumental version!)

The show starts with Reaching for the Sky Part 1 – a new song that was supposedly written for Anthem but didn’t make the cut.  This show gave me 4 new songs on my “songs heard live list” – Reaching For The Sky Pts 1 and 2 (Zac counted them as 2 separate on Hanson.net and with Pt 2 being cut in Columbus for song counting purposes they kind of have to continue to be considered separate), Dream It Do It, and Battle Cry.

After the set was done, the crowd gave Hanson a standing ovation and they came back out for an “encore”, but not having anything else scored, they gave us a little bit of This Time Around acapella.

The guys also changed their usual positions on stage – “Isaac’s side” is now “Taylor’s side”, Zac being in the middle is now Isaac in the middle and “Taylor’s side” is now “Zac’s side”.  This may be something to keep in mind if you care where your seats are near when purchasing tickets!

Reaching For The Sky (Part 1)
Joyful Noise
Where’s The Love
Dream It Do It
MMMBop
Chasing Down My Dreams
Tragic Symphony
Got a Hold On Me
Yearbook
Siren Call
Me Myself and I
INTERMISSION
Reaching For The Sky (Part 2)
This Time Around
Something Going Round
Battle Cry
You Can’t Stop Us
Broken Angel
What Are We Fighting For
Breaktown
No Rest For The Weary
I Was Born
Sound of Light
Tonight

Encore:
This Time Around (Chorus acapella)

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5SOS Meet You There Tour

On August 29th, 5SOS kicked off their North American tour (or at least the US portion) at Mohegan Sun Arena.  My Mom ended up getting offered free tickets so she tagged along with me for the show.  It was the evening before my 20th anniversary of my first concert – Hanson.  It was funny to see that even though 20 years have passed, the way the teenie boppers act at shows has not.  Singing along in line waiting for the doors to open, screaming when the doors do open, freaking out when the band members remove jackets.  Although there were some noticeable changes with technology – cell phones were barely a thing 20 years ago and if you wanted to take photos it was on a film camera so you had no idea what you had taken until the next day  – IF you were lucky enough to go to a one-hour photo place and not have to mail your photos out to be developed.  And videos? Forget it. No snapchat, no instagram.

I really was only familiar (or so I thought) with 2 of 5SOS songs – and of course they were the two that I saw on the setlist were going to be for the encore.  2 girls ended up being the only ones standing in our area and completely blocked us – but slowly the older “high rollers” who also had tickets in our row started leaving so we scooted down after about 5 songs and were able to see the band on the stage and not just the girl in front of us singing into her cell phone as if it was a microphone.  (I mean, at least if you can’t see the band the girls you can see were mildly entertaining?)

I found it funny that when the show started I noted that security was at the bottom of every section making sure that people weren’t going to sneak down to the GA Floor – and then a few songs in one of the band members told anyone who wanted to come down to the floor to come down.  Massive amounts of girls made their way down the stairs only to be turned back around once they got to the bottom by security.   Perhaps security and the band should have been put on the same page before the show! lol

The Aces opened the show and they were an all girls band from Utah and they actually were not that bad at all. I enjoyed them.

It was a fun show, it was fun to watch the crowd when I couldn’t see the band, but I definitely had to have my earplugs in the whole time. It’s been a while since I had been in the middle of such a young, loud crowd!

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Good Vibes with Jason Mraz

Saturday night Jason Mraz brought his “Good Vibes” tour to Mohegan Sun’s Arena.  After an exhausting trip back home, I was glad that Jason said that if we wanted to yawn or sleep that was ok and that he’d still get the music to us somehow.  He started off with some of his older material which was nice since that is what I am most familiar with as I got into him in college when he was waiting for his rocket to come.  He and his backing band were all dressed in painter jump suits and Jason spoke about love and how important it was pretty much every time he spoke to the crowd.  He said how those who want love the most are often angry and the lack of being loved causes them to do dangerous things.  He also suggested we replace the “f-word” with “love” – especially when we are driving – “lovin’ A man. Lovin’ A!”  The setlist was a lot of fun and Raining Jane as his backup band was amazing.  Loved all the dancing that they threw in throughout the songs and I absolutely loved the mashup he did of Jackson 5’s I Want You Back with his song Unlonely (which is one of my faves of his new tracks, we’ll see if that holds up at the end of the week when I get to hear the full new album, Know)

Despite the fact that I absolutely wished I was in bed and sleeping during his set, I am glad that I didn’t end up missing out and got a chance to get some Good Vibes from Jason.

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Evanescence and Lindsey Stirling

A concert on a Wednesday was not one of my brighter ideas… but I couldn’t pass up the chance to see Lindsey Stirling and Evanescence with AN ORCHESTRA!

Wednesday July 25th Evanescense and Lindsey Stirling brough their orchestra tour to Mohegan Sun Arena.  I had seen both artists before and thought that seeing them backed with an orchestra would be amazing, plus it would be a good “trial run” to see how it worked with Hanson’s orchestra tour starting up!

I knew things were a little different when they wouldn’t let me have my water bottle, it had to be poured into a cup.  That had never happened to me before at my “usual” shows and I was wondering what kind of crowd I had gotten myself into… Turns out a crowd of adults who didn’t know how to adult.  Pre-show “highlights” included a woman who lost her cell phone at the casino but was talking to the arena security about it and apparently asking them to call Verizon for her to help find it and the dude who was double fisting beers that threw up all over himself, at least 2 other people and 2 chairs which led to the janitor needing to  clean things up and replace 2 chairs in between the opener and Lindsey which led to the house lights being on a bit longer than they should have so he could quickly finish up. (And to the dude who walked up to him and stuck some cash in his pocket, I salute you)

From what I hear, they have been co-headlining and alternating who goes on first at each show and for my show Lindsey was on first. She mentioned this was a show they were all looking forward to as it was the only one that was INSIDE and with her wearing several layers of costume and makeup she appreciated that.  As to be expected, Lindsey was all over up and down and around on the stage and had some dancer as well to help round things out.  I still want to give her my fitbit before she hits the stage…  Amy Lee of Evanescence joined Lindsey for a song as well.

After an intermission, Evanescence took the stage and I didn’t realize just how much their songs NEEDED to be performed with an orchestra. Holy crap. It was nothing short of amazing and  I had been considering leaving after they played a song or two that I knew in an effort to beat traffic and get home a little bit earlier since it was a Wednesday night and I had an early appointment the next day – but there was no way I could leave in the middle of something so amazing! Lindsey also came out and joined them for a song.

Some things I noticed, no one stood during Lindsey’s set until she told us to. No one stood during Evanescence’s set until they bowed at the end.  No one held their phones over their head to take video / photos, but I could see a lot of eye-level phones/cameras out in the crowd.

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Britney Spears Piece of Me Tour

I had wanted to see Britney Spears’ Las Vegas residency, but it just never worked out coordinating a trip out there.  Fortunately for me, she brought the tour on the road and ended up coming to Mohegan Sun. I joined her “tour club” and was able to do the impossible – get 2 lower level tickets together for the show! They were straight back from the stage which gave us a great vantage point to be able to see everything going on on the stage (I just wish she had a catwalk!)  From what I’ve heard, the show was very similar to the Vegas residency (though I still wish I could have made it out there)

The show was very entertaining but made me realize just how early I had dropped off from her career – a lot of the later stuff were songs that I didn’t really know all that well. But being able to sing along or not wasn’t an issue – the show was a pretty much non stop dance party either way!

Britney Spears Setlist Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT, USA, Piece of Me Tour 2018

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