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Matt Nathanson VIP / Acoustic concert The Warehouse Fairfield, CT

February 24th I treated myself to not one, but two Matt Nathanson concerts at The Warehouse in Fairfield, CT. He was doing an acoustic run in smaller venues than usual and since most shows sold out so quickly he did a VIP show as well which you did not need tickets to the concert in order to attend to allow for more fans to have access, which was really cool.

For the VIP show he spun the wheel of Nathanson 3x as well as did a Q&A with the audience. There were some really great questions and I think Matt really enjoyed himself. Afterwards we all got to meet him as well as get a signed poster and coffee mug.

The wheel spins were Song-Spiration, High School and Wedding Dress which led to performances of Room at the End of the World, Illusions a song he had written for a girl in high school and of course, Wedding Dress.

For the show, the wheel was switched out a bit. Unfortunately, the crowd was less than stellar. One woman kept yelling “FASTER” and at first Matt said “Do you want me to spin the wheel faster or sing the song? I have one and a half singles, do you think I am not going to sing it?” and when she yelled it again later, he said “I am literally taking it off the setlist right now” and he did – I wasn’t sure if he was serious until we got to the end of the show, and Faster, the song I was *most* looking forward to hearing, wasn’t done. He did throw in an older less played song instead, which I am sure made the super fans happy but as a more casual fan I didn’t really notice that he did that. The crowd continued to yell out – and I have to wonder if his witty responses were making it seem like he was condoning the behavior and making people think it was ok to shout out things and if it would have been less if he had instead ignored them and just continued on with the show. (Though I can see how it would be hard to ignore it – but simply asking security to find the person shouting and escort them out may have gotten his annoyance across a bit better and would have made things more enjoyable for the rest of us as well. *shrugs*) Despite the song I most wanted to hear being cut, I had an enjoyable night and definitely need to try and see him more on future tours – even though I doubt he will be coming back to Fairfield anytime soon!

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Joey McIntyre in Waitress on Broadway

One Saturday at the end of February I headed to New York City with my mom to see Joey McIntyre in Waitress. I had previously seen Jason Mraz in the same role a little over a year ago so I was curious to see how their portrayals matched up. At the end of Part I, I was thinking Jason had the edge – as the doctor I think is supposed to be a little bit strange and awkward and Jason could play that with ease, where as Joey came across a bit more confident.  By the end, I wasn’t really sure who I thought did better as they both kind of brought something different to the character.  I teased that if Joey came out to sign, he would win, as Jason did not come out.   I managed to get my playbill signed by Joey in addition to the actresses that played Becky and Jenna.  We debated waiting for Ogie and trying to get a selfie with Joey – but the crowd was creeping in as Joey came near, so once my playbill was signed we ducked out and went to dinner.  This is a really fun show and the only one I have seen more than once!

Gaelic Storm at The Wolf Den

Friday night we headed to The Wolf’s Den at Mohegan Sun to catch a free show from Gaelic Storm (aka Garlic Thunder, which is the name they told me they should be called when I met them 10 years ago on The Rock Boat) I hadn’t seen them in 10 years and I think several of the band members had switched out since  then, but they still were as funny and entertaining as when I had seen them last, and hopefully will get to see them again soon, now that I have a couple of friends who also enjoy them.  I didn’t keep track of the setlist and it looks like no one else really did either, as the one below is missing quite a few songs

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Brian McKnight at Mohegan Sun

At the end of January I went to Mohegan Sun for a private show with Brian McKnight. You may think private equates to intimate but it was in the arena so it was quite a crowd that filled in a ton by the time he took the stage – despite the number of people trying to pass off their tickets to people who already had tickets 😛 I really only knew “Back at One” but I’m not one to say no to a free show and I really enjoyed myself despite the set being mostly love songs. He did do a couple of songs for those of us who didn’t have anyone though so at least he realized there were some of us who wouldn’t enjoy that 😉

He also thanked everyone for allowing him to make music since the 90s – he said that was the best decade for music (and I’d have to agree) and went through a few of his singles from each year. He also did a medley of some of his favorites that have left us – Michael Jackson’s Rock With You, Luther Vandross Never Too Much and Earth Wind & Fire’s September. He talked a bit about how there must be an awesome concert going on in Heaven with Whitney, Aretha, etc but that he didn’t want to join them anytime soon.

He ended up doing Back at One a couple songs before the end, telling people they could come up front if they wanted and while some did, there also was a mass exodus after. He still did Fall 5.0 and then came back for an encore with the crowd mostly at the front of the arena. It was a fun show and I am glad I went despite not being in a love song kind of mood!

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Stephen Kellogg Stage One Fairfield, CT

My last show of the year as I believe it has been for the past couple years, was Stephen Kellogg. For this show he was accompanied by Eric Donnelly on guitar and Taylor Carson opened.  The show was promoting his latest release, “Objects in the Mirror” which I unfortunately didn’t have a chance to fully listen to before the show.  (In an effort to remedy this I have purchased a discman for listening to CDs at work now – so expect more CD reviews in 2019.)

During Song for Daughters I started to tear up a bit and thought to myself… how can he perform these songs that are so emotional and probably mean more to him than me, and make it through without crying?  Well… I got my answer on the next song – he can’t.  By the end of Objects in the Mirror he was crying and talked a little bit about it before playing Prayers on the keyboard.

The second half of the setlist was requests shouted out from the audience and I am not sure how he understood what anyone was saying… and maybe he didn’t and just picked what he wanted to play pretending it was a request. *shrug*

For the last song of the main set, Last Man Standing, 2 of his 4 daughters joined him on stage and for the last song of the encore he did See You Later See You Soon on the “b stage” like Taylor Swift would do (ugh) and kept yelling for us to sing THREE MORE! and was joined by Taylor Carson.  A great show for the last show of 2018 and looking forward to seeing him again in 2019 even though at the moment his tour is not returning to CT.

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Year In Review 2018

Most expensive show:
Other than BTTI – Backstreet Boys in Vegas

Least (not free) expensive show:
Hanson’s Storytellers show in Tulsa at $30

Free shows:
O-Town, The Last Bandoleros, Ruben Studdard, Hanson, The Hop Jam, 5SOS, Jon McLaughlin

# artists seen: 53
# unique artists seen: 8
# shows seen in CT: 18
# of shows out of state: 20

Show farthest away: BSB in Vegas
Closest show: O-Town and David Archuleta in Fairfield
$$ spent on tickets: $4,666
Miles traveled: 13,872.5

Top 6 shows of the year?

 

Total number of shows in 2018? 38

First show of the year? Hanson in Jamaica

First show with actual tickets: Walk the Moon

Last show of the year? Stephen Kellogg

Most surprising show? Evanescence and Lindsey Stirling w/ a orchestra

Most disappointing? I didn’t really have any bummers of shows this year

Farthest traveled? Las Vegas for BSB’s residency

States attended shows in? Jamaica, CT, NV, FL, OK, NY, PA, CO, MA, GA, TN, MA, VA

Venue most visited? Probably the Wolf Den at Mohegan Sun

Band seen the most? Hanson at 16 times.

Best new discovery? The Last Bandoleros

Bands seen this year that also broke up this year? I don’t think any.

Friends made at shows? Maybe? I’m a little anti-social lol

Band members met? Hanson, O-Town, The Last Bandoleros, Andy Grammer, Tyler Hilton, David Cook, 98 Degrees, David Archuleta, Jon McLaughlin

Best souvenir from a show? My life after Hanson in VA

Longest time in line? Probably for O-Town VIP in Fairfield. Didn’t wait too much for anything else. Most were seated.

Shows seen from the barricade [front row]– Hanson BTTI, O-Town Fairfield, Hanson in Nashville, Hanson in Denver (kind of)

Most shows in one month?

January – 4
February – 1
March – 5
April – 1
May – 4
June – 1
July – 2
August – 3
September – 3
October – 4
November – 5
December – 5

Looks like a 3 way tie with 5 shows in March, November and December. (No wonder I have been so tired lately)

Most shows in one week? November 10/11/13/16

Biggest crowd? Probably The Hop Jam in Tulsa. Or one of the Arena shows.

Any drunk encounters? None that are standing out to me!

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David Archuleta – Winter in the Air Tour – Fairfield, CT

David Archuleta brought his Winter in the Air tour to The Warehouse in Fairfield, CT recently. I decided to buy the VIP ticket option for this show so I was able to hear David soundcheck a couple of songs before the show as well as do a Q&A with the audience.  I thought it was interesting that David had a staff member choose who got to ask the questions rather than let David choose himself. I am sure there was a good reason for it, but it just threw me off a bit.  He talked a bit about going to therapy, forgiveness… and commented that a lot of the questions were very deep at this Q&A.  After he took photos with us and gave us a Christmas gift! (A signed photo and cookie cutters!)  We were able to snag a good spot before the general crowd got let in and then waited until 8pm when the show began.  David now has 2 Christmas albums out – he played 8 from Winter in the Air – including the 3 originals. (Of which I believe he said he wanted a ballad, a fun up beat one and one that made you feel like it was a winter wonderland) and from his first Christmas album only 3 songs.  The kid can sing and I loved how he kept chatting with the crowd and getting distracted. He liked the venue because he said he could see everyone up front and wanted to give them all high fives but that would take too long.  And he couldn’t have a show without throwing in his first single – Crush – into the setlist.  Everything else, however, was Christmas tracks.

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Jon McLaughlin – Mohegan Sun Wolf Den

After an exhausting weekend of the Hogwarts Running Club Yule Ball and Time Turner medal pack I decided what better way to continue to get no sleep by heading up to Mohegan Sun to see Jon McLaughlin’s Christmas tour in the Wolf’s Den.  As tired as I was, I knew I would kick myself if I had to miss out.  The casino was pretty slow, I guess because it was a Sunday night and my friend Liz was able to snag us a couple of 3rd row seats with a nice view of Jon and his piano.  While it was considered a Christmas tour – Jon noted that the set would only be about 25 minutes if he did only Christmas songs, so he mixed in some of his singles as well.  Before Jingle Bells he teased that *everyone* has done a version of this song and we have probably recorded a version as well and his way of making it his own was to try and play it as quickly as possible.  I guess he had practiced in sound check with his bassist and was bummed after all that work they only got to play it once! His set lasted about an hour with a lot of talking to the crowd and call and response (I guess he really liked how we sounded singing back to him) and after he stayed to sign and take photos with everyone who wanted to say hi!

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98 Degrees at Christmas

For the second year in a row, 98 Degrees did their Christmas tour.  This time they came to the Ridgefield Playhouse instead of to the casino.  Tickets went on sale as soon as the tour was announced and since May (standing in line to see Hanson) I had been wondering just where my VIP Ticket was going to be – since some of the tickets were going to be on the side and I generally prefer to be in the center section.  Christine and I also bought our tickets separately but ended up side by side – 2nd row – center section.

Part of our VIP Package included Soundcheck.  There were not that many of us with that ticket level so we were in the front row.  The guys did Because of You and The Christmas Song and then did a Q&A where they talked about what it is like to be away from their families, working with Mariah Carey and recording songs with other artists – sometimes that they never even get to see in the studio! Their “nefarious” tour buses and Nick kept teasing that Drew was ready to TELL ALL. (Fun fact – in 20 years Drew has never had a bottom bunk on the bus.  Also – Jeff’s wife puts all his outfits together and will send him messages if she sees he paired the wrong clothes together in fans instagram photos!)

Next up was time for the photos.  I wasn’t sure how to logistics would work with the lobby being so small but the VIP Nation did a great job getting us through the line quickly and efficiently!

They did mix up the setlist from last years tour, which I certainly appreciated but I had to laugh that the whole second half of the show was essentially songs that Hanson had done on their albums.  (When I arrived I said “I haven’t listened to their stuff lately but I am probably ok because all their songs Hanson does too” and I was right)  In addition to Christmas classics they also threw in the 98 degrees singles – I Do, Because of You, True to Your Heart, Invisible Man, etc.  I LOVED how they did you’re a mean one mr grinch last year so I was happy to see that that one was still included as well!

The show was a ton of fun and Jeff Timmons making eye contact with you make you think that he is looking into your soul.  Sheesh!  This is a yearly tour I could really get used to – I just hope that they continue to include Connecticut after their buses were kicked out of a Stop & Shop parking lot in Norwalk for looking shady. hahaha.  (Turns out the guys weren’t even in town yet, it was the crew and they were all making quick pit stops back home!)

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Hanson: Snowed In: Virginia

Hanson was scheduled to play the Uncorked and Unplugged event in Williamsburg, VA on December 9th.  At first I wasn’t going to attend because it was on a Sunday and 7-8 hours away, but my friend and I tried to figure out a plan and decided if we could get the VIP Meet & Greet tickets we would make it work.  After one of the most stressful ticket on sales that I have had to deal with in a while, the site crashed, we thought we may end up with multiple pairs of tickets and then finally finding a 30% off coupon that saved us some decent money our M&G tickets were confirmed!

About a week before the show, weather reports started saying that a storm might be coming through. We kept an eye on it and it moved south and we were only supposed to get rain in that area.  Then a couple days before it shifted again.  We headed to the Richmond, VA area the night before and the weather report said a dusting to 2 inches in Williamsburg, turning to rain.  Richmond was due for 4-8 inches.  With that information, we decided we could handle the trek and made our way to the winery.

Our tickets included a pre-show reception with champagne, oysters, a wine tasting and other snacks. I am not a wine fan but I did try a couple and was not impressed.  There was a string quartet playing a mix of Holiday tunes and pop hits (we walked in to them playing Taylor Swift. Yuck)  In addition to meeting Hanson we also got a M&G with Brynn Elliott, who I wasn’t sure any of her songs until she sang one during the show and I realized I had heard it on the radio.  The Hanson M&G was photos only and a quick hello, but we weren’t expecting anything more than that.

After the M&G we headed down to the tent where the concert would be held and waited for them to let us in – both times entering we were subject to incredibly intense security checks. It was not that easy to figure out where we needed to go for our seats – but we ended up making it to the front row.  Hanson had their acoustic set up so we were in front of Zac.

The “heated” tent was not that heated, I took my coat off for a bit just because it was soaking wet from being in the snow for 30 or so minutes waiting to be let inside, but ended up putting it back on for the rest of the show.  Heather Murphy was up first, I guess she is a local singer and did 1 original song and a whole ton of covers.  I kind of wondered why her set was so long, but it is what it is. (She did have a nice voice, I’m just not one to want to sit through a bunch of covers)  Brynn was up next – the radio station had to “stall” for 5 minutes before she was ready to take the stage and that was pure torture.  Her set seemed much shorter than Heather’s but was much more enjoyable.

Then it was time for HANSON!!! The set was a pretty generic festival set with most of the singles.  They did end up adding I Will Come To You based on the request of one of the radio DJs. (Who apparently asked them for it by the wrong name and Zac called her out on it before they started playing it.)  Near the end of the set, we could see a lot of commotion off to the side of the stage and then the guys were being yelled at to do just one more song – but they hadn’t gotten to MMMBop yet.  I did notice that the snow that was supposed to stop and turn to rain had not. (I always was told once the flakes started getting bigger it meant that the snow was going to stop soon – which was not the case.)  They ended up doing a shortened version of MMMBop and then Taylor was *determined* to fit in one more.  They were calling for the guys to come off the stage and it looked like they cut power to Taylor’s keyboard but he was still trying to play something.  In the end, they did White Christmas acapella and then told us we had to go because the tent had too much snow on it.  A lot of people came up front to try and get setlists, etc.  We were able to snap a photo of it just before one of Hanson’s crew got on stage and said we had to GO.  At that point I hadn’t turned around yet, and once I did I knew we had to get out ASAP because the roof was definitely being heavily weighed down by snow. We started throwing chairs out of the way to get out at that point since people were still blocking the way up front and got outside.  According to some of the radio DJs about 20 minutes later the back of the tent started to cave in.  We got to the car and started to clear it off and heat everything up and decide what we wanted to do.  It took us about an hour and a half just to get out of the grounds of the winery because cars were stuck, trees were down and the roads were a mess.  The dusting to 2 inches was more like 4 – and still coming down.

We decided to try and make it back to PA, but had a heck of a time once the GPS rerouted us off the highway and everywhere we went trees were down and the situation just was getting worse and worse the further we went.  Props to my friend who was able to navigate the roads and keep us safe – I am sure I would have had us in a ditch trying to weave around the trees. (And we did see a car just like mine in a ditch at one point.) After being forced to turn around because of a tree only to go back the way we came to be met with ANOTHER tree, we didn’t know what to do. Visions of being stuck on that road for the night in the snow were dancing around in my head. Fortunately 2 angels were in the cars in front of us and were able to pull the tree down so we could pass.  We stopped at a gas station to use the facilities and regroup – and decided the best thing to do was to turn around and go back to Williamsburg.  We had gone 20 miles in 2 hours and still had 30 miles to go to get back to the highway – and head to the Richmond area which had a FOOT of snow.

I booked a room at a Holiday Inn via the app… only to arrive and be told they didn’t have our reservation and that they were fully booked. (And then I was charged as a “no show” – how you gonna charge me for a room that didn’t even exist? But a refund is in the works now – they had no internet access to connect with the app system so the app didn’t know they were full to not allow me to book.)  We ended up calling a Hampton Inn and they had a room and power – apparently half the town lost power.  I’m not surprised, all the trees were getting weighed down and I’m sure many a tree came down on a power line.  We made it to the hotel, and the next morning everything was much, much easier to navigate and we made it home in good time.  Instead of working from the office a half day I worked from my friends place and ended up making great time back home as well. (So glad I have an understanding boss!)

Hindsight is 20/20 – I’m sure there are a lot of things we would have done differently had we known that the forecast was going to be so off base.  I am sure that the winery, event coordinators and radio stations would have as well.  And I am sure that if Taylor knew the tent was going to start caving in 20 minutes later (just before their set was supposed to end) he wouldn’t have fought so hard to try and squeeze in one last song. By the time we realized the snow was out of control – it was way too late to move on to a plan B.  I am just glad we ended up safe, were able to maneuver the car when it almost got stuck and didn’t end up stuck overnight in the snow on a road barricaded in by trees.  Things were not ideal, but things could have been so much worse.

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