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O-Town at the Wolf’s Den

Friday night O-Town made their return to the Wolf’s Den at Mohegan Sun. This was their 3rd time performing there, but my 2nd time seeing them since I had to miss one since I was in Jamaica with Hanson last year when they came through!  WFAN’s Mike Francesca was in the Den before the show and I was hoping to catch a glimpse of a Mets player, but spotted a Yankees pitcher instead.  At 7pm we were let in for the show and they had removed all the chairs from the floor and were allowing you to choose if you preferred to stand on the floor or sit around the upper edge of the venue.  I was the first to choose a seat and got one right in the corner by the stage.  The show started at 8pm and featured 2 new songs off the upcoming release that the guys funded by fans on kickstarter – reaching their goal in 7 hours and doubling it (or more?) once the campaign was over!

They started their set with their first single, Liquid Dreams and ended the set bookended with their biggest single – All or Nothing.  Mixed in were songs from all 4 of the albums (including the upcoming one) and a few covers as well.  During the cover medley, Trevor and Dan went out into the crowd – with Dan walking right past where I was sitting on top of the booths that were below me.  I hear Trevor gave someone a lap dance but I was too busy watching Dan to see what was happening on the other side of the venue!  They let us pick if we wanted to hear “Baby I Would” or “Suddenly” and the cheers led to them doing Suddenly.  Typically I do not miss Ashley Parker Angel at all at these shows, but for some reason on that song it was noticeable he was missing (It may have been my first time hearing it since he had left so it wasn’t the album version I am used to? Or I’m losing my mind. Both equally possible.)

The first of the new songs was called “Shady Business” and it is “autobiographical”  The second was called “After The Light” (or lights?) and I think they said it was going to be their first single and due out March 14th.

After the show, if you purchased a merch item you could get it signed and get selfies with the guys.  We made sure we were at the front of the line because snow was on its way and we needed to get home ASAP!  (Fan Girl Problems – we had figured they wouldn’t be staying after since they didn’t the time before and were all set to go right after.  Once we found out that they were staying after we bought merch without even giving it a second though – THEN remembered – oh hey, it’s going to snow. crap.)  I mentioned to Dan that we were hoping to get out before the snow and Jacob mentioned that he heard it was starting at 9 and they both wanted us to be careful getting home. (We made it home without incident.)  Erik didn’t talk to me much but decided that my selfie camera was dirty because the picture was coming out blurry so he wiped it off and tried again (and the results weren’t much better.)  Jacob gave me a big hug and thanked me for coming.  Trevor was last and asked my name and said it was nice to meet me. I teased and said “Oh, you’ve met me before!” and he looked up and said “Yes, you’re right. I have! Here I am just standing here with my head down…” and thanked me for coming. I thanked him for coming back and he asked if I has been at all 3 shows. I told him 2/3 because I was in Jamaica with Hanson the last time and he said that was a valid excuse to miss!

I got some video of the new songs, if you want to check out a sneak peak!

 

DNCE at Oakdale

When you save a date for a review on the blog and then the show ends up canceled…  DNCE was scheduled to come to the Oakdale on Thursday night and 6-18 inches of snow was also scheduled to come to town on Thursday day.  I had been hoping the show would be postponed so I would get the best of both words – I wouldn’t have to try to get to the venue in the snow and also so that I wouldn’t have to miss the show either… I guess canceled with refunds is ok.  It sounds like they’re hoping to come back this way so hopefully it ends up happening!

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Bon Jovi This House Is Not For Sale Tour Rehearsal

Wednesday night Bon Jovi held a rehearsal for their This House Is Not For Sale tour at Mohegan Sun.  They had been rehearsing for 2 weeks at the casino and opened up the rehearsal for radio winners, family and friends.  “I’d call it a dress rehearsal, but I couldn’t find a dress” Jon said welcoming everyone to the show, remembering how they kicked off their last tour at the casino in the middle of a blizzard.

While the radio station emails said that it would be a 45-60 minute performance, it was a full blown approximately 2 hour show with 23 songs.  The band went through the first 21 with no breaks at all and came out for the encore to play a couple of their biggest hits – Wanted Dead or Alive and Livin’ on a Prayer.  My friend Miriam had won the tickets and is a Bon Jovi fan, I on the other hand am not, but can’t say no to a free show, plus I figured it would be a good time. (It was.)  When she asked me what my favorite part was I said, “the end”, but not because it was over – just because that was really the only time I knew 2 consecutive songs and could really sing along.

The beginning of the show may have been having sound issues or maybe my earplugs weren’t properly sitting in my ears because things sounded a bit muffled.  A few songs into the show things started sounding better and it seemed like Jon had gotten more comfortable with being back up on stage in front of a crowd. We were told there were about 1,000 fans in attendance – including Patriots owner Robert Kraft. The floor was standing only and a couple of the sections around the arena seemed to be filled in as well.

Part of the set Jon stopped to tell some stories about the songs and why they were written.  I don’t care who the artist is, I always like hearing that background and behind the scenes stuff. He talked a bit about the name of the new album, This House is Not For Sale and how the inspiration for the song and the album cover came about.  He talked a bit about how one of the songs was about the record label and now they are back with them.

The setlist is below, although Jon did mention that they change it for every show so I’m not sure how much of a ‘tease’ this is for the full tour. (And a setlist posted on twitter from the show did seem to show a couple more songs that they skipped)

Bon Jovi Setlist Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT, USA 2017

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Back to the Island 2017

Earlier this month I headed back to Jamaica for the 4th time for my 5th Back to the Island event with Hanson. (1 year was in Cancun, Mexico).  This year it was at the same resort as last year, which I really liked as far as the resort but didn’t really like as far as the food.  That seemed to still be an issue this year but I think what I didn’t eat in “regular” food, I made up for in desserts!

This post will focus on the concerts – of which there were 5. Or 7. Depending on how you count.  Early last year we voted for the themes we wanted for each of the Hanson shows to have and we never found out what won until that night.  I liked the surprise of trying to figure it out before they announced it, but had to show up prepared for it to be a Christmas show and ready to change into my Christmas Hanson shirt at any time.  Fortunately that was the only theme you could really “dress” for, unfortunately it never ended up winning.  So we had 3 full-band Hanson shows, 1 solo show from each Hanson (which I could as 1 Hanson show because Isaac + Taylor + Zac = Hanson, of course) and then 1 show from special guests Andrew Ripp and John Fullbright.

Night 1 – Rock All Night  (Setlist)

This was the kick off show and I was exhausted by the time we got to it. I don’t think I had ever wanted a Hanson show to be over so badly before, which is so out of character for me but I needed to get some sleep! They kicked the show off with the chorus of Back to the Island acapella and welcomed us all back to the Island (although there were a LOT of first timers there based on the screams whenever they asked!)  I liked that this was a rocking set and it really kicked things off.  The setlist had some rarer songs in it as well which I liked and I loved the throwback to Ever Lonely which they had done every night on their first tour in 1998 but much, much, much less more recently.   I was on the right side of the stage for this show (Taylor’s side) as opposed to in the handicapped area on the other side because no one ever brought chairs there!  I couldn’t see Zac unless I squatted down and looked through Taylor’s keyboards and kept saying I just wanted a “small fix” of Zac, so when they finished off the set with Zac coming up front for I Believe in a Thing Called Love I was very happy 🙂  That is, until he told my friend he couldn’t give her drumsticks because he only had 2 pair and then walked off stage only to give the drumsticks to someone else instead.  I’m sure there was a logical explanation, but it rubbed me the wrong way.  (Also pretty impressive was that they did not have any in-ear monitors so they had to turn the speakers in on them and Zac mentioned he couldn’t hear much at all, but they still managed to put on a great show!)

Isaac’s solo show (Setlist)

Last year, Isaac was very late for his solo set and made it a request hour which a lot of people didn’t like. (I liked the idea of it, even though he didn’t play anything I shouted out at him)  This year, Isaac was relatively on time and was very prepared for his set.  He also told us a little bit of the back story with a few of the songs he played, which I always really like hearing. He once again did “A Life Without You” which has only ever been played at the solo shows at BTTI. I also got 4 new songs out of him – Beautiful Eyes – which he explained was about dying during child birth which I never actually realized listening to it before and he had played back in 2000 a few times but not at any of the shows I was at and then he did 3 songs that had never been done before – David Garza’s Too Much as well as Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah (which I do feel is covered WAY too much but I let that slide) mixed in with Amazing Grace.  Could Isaac have won the solo show for the year again?  Yeah, I think he did.  Most of the time Isaac’s set ends up my favorite.

Night 2 – Acoustic (Setlist)

When we sat down and saw that the stage was set up for an acoustic set I had 2 feelings.  The first was “Yay! I should be able to see Zac tonight because he will be up front!” and the 2nd was “Oh crap I think they may play With You In Your Dreams”  My Dad passed away 2 months before and I knew my first time hearing it was going to make me cry.  Throughout the set I kept counting how many songs they did and knew that the show was almost over and THOUGHT we were in the clear – but they stuck it in as the last song.  Good thing it was last because I was such a mess during the song I’m not sure I would have been able to make it through the rest of the set.  Instead I had some time to regroup before Cards Against Humanity with Zac started.  There was nothing too remarkable about this setlist – acoustic was not one of my choices for the sets but I mean, any Hanson show is better than being anywhere else and any Hanson show on the beach is better than any other Hanson show. (Maybe.)

Taylor solo (Setlist)

The 2nd solo show was from Taylor. Taylor always has more songs to choose from than the other two since he sings lead on the most songs.  Before he started his 3rd song he talked about how it had almost been a single from Underneath and then didn’t end up making the album and something about it having “Bubblicious” in the lyrics.  There is one song from the 2003 era that I had NEVER before heard live.  In fact it’s part of the reason I started keeping track of how many times I had heard songs live and perhaps is the reason I now run a site that calculates that for everyone (hansonstage) and this was the song that Taylor was about to play. The song that I posted about on Hanson.net every time there is a “what do you hope they play?” thread.  I honestly do not know what to do with myself now that it has a “1” on my list.  What song do I obsess over now? I feel like that was the ultimate achievement.  Then 5 songs later he did it again – with another song that probably would have been my next obsession – another song from the same era that they had only ever really teased in concert before (and only a couple of times, at that) – Breaktown.  I didn’t even get video from the beginning because it took me so long to process what was really happening in front of me when he started it.  Taylor also did a couple of songs solo that I thought were a little bit weird – You Never Know was weird in a GOOD way with him solo and Get The Girl Back was weird in a.. not so good way with just him doing it solo.  Taylor also did a ridiculous set of 15 songs.  I kind of thought it never was going to end and I think I would have been ok with that.

Special Guests Set

I was very excited for Andrew Ripp to be a guest at this BTTI.  I had seen him previously open for David Cook and chatted with him about Hanson after his set and I knew that he would be a fun time and was a lot of fun on stage and had a great voice.  I didn’t realize how awesome he would be throwing a setlist together on the spot while I laid in a beach chair looking up at the stars with the waves crashing behind me.  It was perfect!  Of course, then I got sick and after 1 of John Fullbright’s songs I ended up having to leave and missed the rest of his set.  He didn’t really grab me with his song and I could hear some of it from the room, at least.  But it seemed like Andrew Ripp won a LOT of people over and I hope he is in consideration to be an opening act on a future Hanson tour because even though he’s just a guy with a guitar he has ENERGY which is what so many of their openers seem to be lacking.

Zac solo set (Setlist)

Zac’s solo set was probably my least favorite set. That’s not to say I didn’t like it, but I did have trouble getting in to it because a lot of the songs were about loss so I was just struggling with keeping it together for his set.  I did like that he told some background stories about the songs and what they were about because a lot of times they are so vague about those things.  He also did Juliet and Do You Believe In Love which are a couple of my favorite Zac leads, but even that couldn’t really redeem things for me.  He also didn’t give me any never before heard songs.  Sad face.  He is getting better and better at being on stage alone, I think though.  There’s definitely been an improvement since his first solo set back in 2014.

Final show – Members Only (Setlist)

The last time they did a members only themed setlist was 2014 and I think that if you ask anyone who was there they will say it was one of their favorite Hanson shows ever, if not THE best.  I am not sure that it will ever be topped, but they did try with the setlist they put together for the final night.  A lot of the Members Only songs have never been played live before, but unfortunately only one such song made it into this setlist (Freak Out) and everything else I had heard.  They did end up doing I believe all from the “Sound of Light” EP which is probably one of my favorites of their members only EPs.  The show started out with no lights on the front of the stage being on – which was strange.  Then they were completely in the dark before the 3rd song so we turned our cell phone lights on them until things were fixed.  That was weird and I wasn’t sure why they had them go onstage if the lights were an issue, but I guess they had to somewhat keep things on time.  Feeling Alive on the beach was amazing – I love that song so much in general but just putting it in the beach setting brought it to a whole other level.  They seemed to be having trouble starting out with Roller Coaster Love and I’m not sure Isaac wanted to play it or remembered how to play it but they worked it out.  They finished the encore out with some album songs (singles) that hadn’t found their way into other sets.  We did see they skipped “Ive Got Soul” from the setlist, but no great loss there.  For the finale they brought up Andrew and John to sing Back to the Island and Andrew even did a rap (the lyrics were on the stage in front of him but either way, totally impressive) and then our 5th year at BTTI was over and only Taylor’s after party was left before we’d all have to head back to the real world.

 

I thought that this year had some really solid setlists and some really good performances.  Things seemed a bit more polished than last year and I am ready to fork over all my money for year 6.

 

 

 

Concert Review: One Tree Holiday

Thursday night Kate Voegele and Tyler Hilton brought their final show of the 2016 leg of the “One Tree Holiday” tour to the Wolf’s Den at Mohegan Sun.  Fun fact – the first time I had seen either of these artists was when they opened for Hanson (4 or so years apart).  Rather than have one perform first and the other perform second, both Kate and Tyler were on stage for the entire set, playing and singing on each others songs which was pretty cool!  They alternated between Kate’s songs and Tyler’s songs and had a few covers thrown in for good measure as well.  One of the covers was one that Tyler did of Elvis’ “That’s Alright Mama” which he had done in the movie Walk the Line.  He also talked about how he had used to play in our area a lot, but not so much anymore.  Hopefully that changes! Back in college I used to see him all the time and now it is fewer and farther between (if you’re not counting seeing him on my TV since he’s currently on the show Pitch and before that was on Extant – which I only started watching because he told us to and said it was about robots!)  After the show I opted to pay $40 for a Polaroid with both Tyler and Kate. I suppose if I knew how much it had cost before I got to the merch table after waiting for about a half an hour I wouldn’t have bothered to stay, but at that point I figured what the heck.  Kate told me we had the “best name ever!” and I told Tyler how I went to a lot of shows back like 10 or so years ago and didn’t see any girls I had recognized from back then and I felt like I was getting older but his fans were getting younger and he said “ME TOO!” and how he and Kate sometimes talked about that.  Then I mentioned how I had first seen them both open for Hanson and Kate said that was like a rite of passage for the singer songwriter to open for Hanson and how they were such cool guys! They had mentioned wanting to come through this way again and I really hope that they do!

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96.5 All Star Christmas 2016

Thursday night TIC’s All Star Christmas moved from The Oakdale Theater (currently booked with the touring production of WICKED) to the Mohegan Sun Arena.  This allowed for them to get some bigger names for the show and the acts were supposed to be Lindsey Stirling, James Bay, One Republic and Meghan Trainor.  However, Thursday morning it was announced that Meghan had been put on vocal rest through the rest of the year and she’d have to cancel all her shows.  (Meghan had previously canceled a tour last year due to vocal issues and underwent surgery.)  TIC announced that refunds would be available if you no longer wanted to attend and that they would be adding Nick Fradiani to the bill.

While I was excited to see Nick over Meghan (I wasn’t all that interested in seeing her to begin with) as far as it being an equal trade off on a bill I paid $90 to see – that’s debatable.  As far as it being someone I’d much rather see, that was awesome.  One Republic got bumped to headliner and I assume they ended up doing a bit longer set than they would have.

Nick opened the show at 7pm and did several tracks off his debut album, Hurricane.  He also did a remixed version’s Meghan’s All About That Bass.  He only knew the chorus so he frestyled the rest about being back home in Connecticut.  He also did a brand new song that he had just written a couple of weeks ago which according to his twitter is called “We Live Forever”

Next up was Lindsey Stirling and boy oh boy did I wish I strapped my step counter to that girl before she hit the stage.  If you’re not familiar with her she plays violin. Which some may find boring but when it is Lindsey, it is not.  She is all around the stage dancing as she plays and is very, very impressive.  She even got a standing ovation once her set was over! I think we were all exhausted from just watching her.

James Bay was the next performer and the one I was most interested in seeing. He was really, really high energy. And has the cutest accent! He called for fans to stand and clap along, although he wanted us to try and clap for a whole song and I just couldn’t do it, though I did try.  (Confession: I was hoping clapping would trigger my step counter so I could finish the race I’ve been working on since June. shhh. It kind of worked.)  He had everyone sing along for “Let It Go” which sounded so awesome!

One Republic seemed to take forever and a day to take the stage after it was set up.  I thought at first maybe they weren’t actually in the building yet (although technically their on stage time would have been earlier if Meghan didn’t cancel so that didn’t really make sense) but Ryan Tedder commented on hearing us all singing “Let It Go” from side stage – so he was there at least for some of James’ set!  The women in front of me got fed up and left saying “This is stupid!” on their way out and when the track played over the speakers stopped for a second and then went into another song, people started yelling “Cmon already!”  Then when they did try to turn out the house lights, they turned them up all the way for a split second instead!

This was my 3rd time seeing One Republic although for the life of me before the show I could only remember seeing them at Mixtape Festival in 2013 with Hanson.  Turns out they were also at one of the Christmas shows back in 2012 when I did 3 back-to-back-to-back.  They are all kind of a blur so I can see how I lost track.

One Republic did a 10 song set and I knew pretty much all of the songs but 1 that was a newer one for a movie? I also didn’t realize that they had been having singles on the radio since 2008 – so it makes sense that there were so many I was familiar with.  I remember when their first song came out and it was Timbaland featuring One Republic but Timbaland was just doing his patented “aaa oo ooo” on the track.

One Republic’s set was also high energy with Ryan jumping on a piano at one point.  Like Nick, he spoke a bit about Meghan and how the vocal issues could lead to permanent damage and he hoped she had a speedy recovery and then had us do a call and response – my name is NO my sign is NO my number is NO…

Something I learned during One Republic’s set was that Ryan has family in the nearby town of Mystic and he used to spend a lot of summers there growing up! He thought he might have had cousins in the audience and girls 2 rows in front of me flipped out so I guess they were cousins or knew of his cousins?

Overall it was a great night although the show did go a bit later than I was hoping, leading me to not get home til 12:30am.  Not usually the case when the show is at the much closer Oakdale Theater.  We’ll have to see what next Christmas has in store, but at least it didn’t snow!

 

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Hanson at Disney

I finished out October and began November by heading down to Orlando to see Hanson at Eat to the Beat at EPCOT as part of the Food & Wine festival.  Each night they played 3 sets for a total of 9 shows over 3 days.  The middle day happened to be Halloween – where I was dressed as Snow White and Hanson and crew dressed as The Avengers.  Zac was Thor, Isaac Captain America and Taylor Iron Man. Backup musicians were Black Panther and Spiderman with crew dressed as Wolverine, Hulk and Loki.

The first two days seemed to be a bit similar with several repeats over the two days. By the third they seemed to find their groove and varied things up a little bit more!  I was hoping for MMMBop at each of the 9 shows since prior to arriving I had heard it live 91 times and it would be nice to hit 100, but instead they did it at 2/3 of the shows each day.  100 will be coming up soon though! (I just have to remember to pay attention)

More details and pictures from my trip to come in the upcoming days. I’ve just had some trouble adjusting back into the real world since I returned.

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Carrie Underwood 10/28/16

Friday October 28th Carrie Underwood brought her Storyteller tour to the Mohegan Sun Arena.  The show was “in the round” and the stage took up almost the entire arena floor, with 3 different circles – one in the center and one on either end.

Opening for the show was the Swon Brothers who walked out to the stage through the opening right next to our seats! We had hoped Carrie would do the same, but only the openers.  Carrie and her band and crew had a tunnel set up on the other side of the circle near us to get to the stage area.

I had never seen The Swon Brothers before and I had never watched their season of The Voice either, but i enjoyed them.  The only bummer was that since they were the opener they kind of stayed in one spot on the stage – which happened to be with their backs to us.

Easton Corbin was up next and while he hung out mainly in the center circle, it was spinning around the whole time of his set so that was pretty cool! He walked a bit to the outer circles as well.;

Then it was time for Carrie! It seemed as though everyone loved the circle farthest from us the most, and Carrie was no exception, but she did come to our end of the stage a few times.  It was also my first big arena show with the new camera so I was playing around with all the settings and I think I had found a winner! (Which was perfect timing with my leaving for 9 Hanson concerts the next morning!)

Carrie’s stage had a lot of fun tricks with the stage raising, lowering, spinning, etc. which is always so much fun to see! She changed outfits several times as well.

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Kris Allen Danbury Fair Mall

Kris Allen recently released a new Christmas album and has been doing some shows to help promote it.  Saturday he came to the Danbury Fair Mall in Danbury, CT.  The set was a mixture of Christmas and non Christmas songs since he was going to be playing for an hour and didn’t want to play only Christmas music the whole time.  He did a mix of songs off the new Christmas album as well as songs off of his previous albums.  He did a mashup of one of my favorites, “Monsters” with “Hit the Road Jack” which I had not heard him do before that was a lot of fun.  Two of the original Christmas songs that he performed I thought were hilarious and absolutely loved – Baby Won’t You Wait Until the New Year about having your boyfriend or girlfriend waiting until after Christmas to break up with you so the holidays won’t always remind you of the break up and Mommy, Is there More than Just One Santa Claus written from the perspective of a curious child who seems to see Santa everywhere during the holiday season and wonders if there must be more than one of him.  He forgot the words – on 2 of the verses – during Alright With Me which was pretty funny.  A few fans helped him out and got him back on track 🙂   Since this was at a mall, there was a video game store on the floor above where the show was happening and Mario (from Mario Bros.) was hanging out there and watching the soundcheck when I got there.  He mustve also watched part of the set because Kris asked if he was seeing things or if Mario was at his show lol

Kris played for about an hour, met up with VIP M&G winners (which somehow I didn’t manage to win!) and then he came back to sign for the non VIP winners.  It was so nice to see him again! (Especially so close to home!)

Kris Allen Setlist Danbury Fair Mall, Danbury, CT, USA 2016

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Throwback Thursday: David Cook 11/12/08

Headliner: David Cook
Opener(s): N/A
Venue: Hard Rock Cafe
Cost: $158

Setlist:

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