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O-Town Long Island

O-Town recently had a show on Long Island that happened to be on Trevor’s birthday.  I decided I would make the trek to go since it was a special day and also because it was at Mulcahy’s which is home to the boyband tribute group Larger than Life and I had wanted to check them out.  Ryan Cabrera was also on the bill and Lance Bass would be hosting.  Since I couldn’t get an answer on if Lance’s M&G would interfere with O-Towns I only did VIP for O-Town. (Turns out, I could have easily done both, but was happy to save some cash)  Traffic was horrible and I ended up getting there about a half an hour late only to be told that I had missed nothing and that VIP had been delayed.  Part of VIP was a soundcheck – which couldn’t be done because the venue’s sound guy was MIA.  We ended up doing photos first and then hanging around until we could see some of the soundcheck.  Unfortunately the venue said I could ge a seat but didn’t inform me it would be in the way, way back of the venue (when my fellow VIPers were able to snag front row) but fortunately O-Town’s team is awesome and worked with security to get me a good spot. (And then had the nerve to tell me not to try to jump on stage.  Um, dude, did you see the trouble I had just getting onto this high chair you gave me to sit in? You have *nothing* to worry about)

Larger Than Life was on first and while the crowd seemed to be into them – I’ll stick to the real deal. Thanks.  (They kind of blew it when they totally butchered MMMBop.)

Ryan Cabrera was up next and I am pretty sure I have been hearing him tell the same stories for the last I don’t even know how many years.  Security ended up giving me his setlist which he kind of drew out all of the songs so that was a pretty cool thing to have.

Finally it was time for O-Town – they ended up playing until almost midnight (or maybe later? That’s the problem with taking so long to write these reviews lately!) and put on a great show, as always, and we even got to sing happy birthday to Trevor.  Just like in NY – Lance joined them for Bye Bye Bye and the crowd went wild.

I ended up skipping the selfie line so I could get a head start on the trip back home. I was exhausted so as much as it stunk not getting to see the guys again, I made the right choice.

Not sure if this setlist was right as I went off memory instead of keeping track…

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Hanson String Theory: Boston, Philly, NYC

Recently I had my last 3 US String Theory shows for the year in Boston, Philly & NYC.  Since they are all big (obnoxious) sports towns, I was a bit curious to see how that might transfer to the catcalling during the shows since Zac had to write a blog post on Hanson.net about how to behave at the shows (that were probably just preaching to the choir.)

For Boston we were 3rd row in front of Zac, which may have skewed the sound just a bit and made the drums a lot louder than intended.  Crowd wise there was some catcalling but everyone at least in our general area followed the “don’t stand until the last 3-4 songs” rule.  Boston gets a bad rep for being overly obnoxious but my eye rolls were limited.  The seats however must have been original to the 1800s – next to 0 leg room (and I am SHORT! A guy in front of us had to be 6’4” OR MORE and I felt so, so bad for him) and were practically on the ground.  Once I sat I had no idea how I was going to get back up – it definitely took effort towards the end of the show!  Zac was super smiley and looking at us a lot – I think because he is so used to being so far away and blocked from everyone, this tour he really got to goof off a bit with the people up front! He seemed to be having a blast!

For Philly we were 3rd row in front of Taylor, which honestly may be the best angle to get.  Positioned correctly, mics won’t be blocking the piano and cymbals won’t be blocking Zac. (I had a few shows this tour where I fell victim to ‘cymbal face’) If I had to guess before the show I’d have thought his crowd would be the worst (they are known to boo Santa!) but honestly I think this was the best crowd – despite many not being even let inside the doors before Hanson had already started. (I love that there’s no “Hanson Time” this tour – but when there is a line of people nearly around the block, you can’t push things back 5-10 minutes?  They didn’t come on until 8:10 in Boston!)  I knew something was up when the 3 didn’t take a bow after bowing with the maestro and backup musicians.  Since it was Veteran’s Day the 3 came back out and did the National Anthem.

New York City was back at the Beacon after 21 years! (Not 20, the first show was August 1997. It’s math, people.) I had not won my way in back in 1997 (not for lack of trying!) so it was awesome to finally see them there after wishing it would happen for so long!  This crowd was by far the worst, standing wise.  A few people here and there would pop up during the songs they knew (ie MON songs) and by the 2nd act everyone was up from the start.  I knew that the mood of the songs would lead to an up-down-up-down reaction so I opted to sit until I knew we were supposed to be “up”, per Zac’s post.  This show we were around 8 rows back on Zac’s side and you know I had seen it “too many times” (no such thing) because I started watching the orchestra more than Hanson (and maybe because we were a bit further back and I could see them pretty unobstructed without the guys right in front of me) and found myself a fun, cute violinist to watch and also a cute clarinetist (when he wasn’t blocked by Isaac.)  This show I also finally “got” MMMBop being included – at my 6 previous shows it just didn’t seem to fit in with the orchestra but somehow it sounded totally different at this show.  Being further back + a venue made for really great acoustics may have made the difference. (My first show I was the furthest back, 10 rows, but I may not have picked up on everything since I was taking it all in for the first time.)

 

There is still one more (non string theory) Hanson show for me this year, then it is off around the world to see them in Jamaica and Australia in 2019.  I am getting so close to my 200th show… I currently have tickets for up to #199!  Where will #200 end up being? I’m guessing Tulsa but we’ll see!

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David Cook Ridgefield Playhouse

David Cook returned to the Ridgefield Playhouse – which is apparently where Idol winners go after breaking their hand/wrists and are unable to actually play guitar. (Kris Allen played there just after his accident!)

Before the show I had a meet and greet and before David’s injury I had bought him a mini Kansas City Royals corn hole game.  I told him I wasn’t trying to be a jerk and had bought it before he was injured.  He assured me he would still be able to play it and he would win because no one else on tour would play with him.

During the show David was chatty as usual and made me crack up – as usual.  He talked about how if you were single maybe you could meet your signifigant other at his show (I’m listening…) and then went into this hypothetical story about how you would leave the show together in your RAV4 (uh, wait, that’s MY car?) and go to your apartment in what used to be a lighthouse and run up the spiral stairs (ok, you lost me) and quickly clean up the place before bringing the date upstairs…  He also told a story about how Chris Cornell had written one of his songs and how he met him at the ENT and then spit into the sink. He said he should never tell the story again but they decided just the spitting part had to go.

When he first came out on stage he said that he thought his shirt was a little bit too aggressive for the show but he doesn’t do costume changes – of course someone yelled for him to just take it off and he said we wouldn’t like that because it is a “dumpster fire under here”.

He told stories about both of his brothers – about Adam before Goodbye to the Girl where he explained about how he never really properly dealt with his death initially and took a couple days off for the funeral but just continued on his tour and later ended up going to therapy and kind of sorting things out and thats what led to him writing Goodby to the Girl.   Before a cover of Day is Gone he gave props to his brother Andrew who had mentioned Noah Gundersen and thought that David would like him, but he never really gave it a second thought until he heard the song in Sons of Anarchy and said if he could make the arrangement work for the acoustic tour he would give Andrew props – which I think kills him a little bit inside every show.

The set was a little bit short and since David was injured he did not play anything at all. (And he could not sign during the M&G either, bummer.) It was also interesting that there were two different songs titled Heroes in the set and I was glad that I was not in charge of the database for that setlist!  I am totally loving David’s new single Death of Me and as always am looking forward to seeing him again soon!

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Hanson String Theory – Atlanta & Nashville

Near the end of October I made a trip to Atlanta and Nashville to see Hanson’s String Theory Tour.   We had Friday in Atlanta to sightsee so we hit up World of Coke (pro tip – if you have a free ticket in your coke app, screen cap it because it will eat it before you get to the museum to redeem it!) and the Georgia Aquarium.   World of Coke was fun – we had a lot of fun in the tasting room trying all the different sodas from around the world and trying to not stick to the floor.  I really liked the blue raspberry Fanta and of course SURGE… both from North America but I think I did try at least 1 from each of the areas available.  The aquarium was a lot of fun too, we hit up the dolphin show, saw some otters, lots of fish, penguins… and finally found Nemo in the last place we looked! Saturday we took it easy until it was time to leave for the show, found a spot for dinner and headed to the Symphony Hall.  We had 3rd row center for this show and it was my closest show yet, we were between Isaac and Zac and the show was a lot of fun.  Not as great of sound as Denver, but good!  After the show we hung around for a bit to see if we could catch a glimpse of the guys getting on the bus (we did) and then headed to Chattanooga, halfway to Nashville, for the night.  When our hotel breakfast had the tiniest cinnamon rolls and “bagels for babies”, we hit the diner across the street for a real breakfast before heading to Nashville.  We got ready for the show, ubered to the wings mural and took some pre-show photos before grabbing dinner and heading to the venue.  It was FREEZING in Nashville. I had brought my winter coat and was glad I did!   For this show we had front row, all the way over to the side and it turned out to actually be a really great view – no symbol face for Zac and not as far over as the seating chart on the website had led us to believe.  I spotted “Slim” who plays guitar for Lady A (but used to play for Curtis Peoples) and Paul McDonald in the crowd and I’m sure there were more familiar faces around as well.  While the setlist is the same every night the show is not – and Zac sang “now that I’ve started…” at the beginning of chasing down my dreams but… no one else had started so he had to start again.  In addition to the mishaps, there is also a different feel with each orchestra and each maestro. (And Nashville’s happened to be adorable)  talking to Isaac after the show he said that he could notice a difference with each orchestra, their timing, loudness, etc.  I think my favorite shows in order are: Denver, Nashville, Atlanta, Pittsburgh.  I probably won’t be able to keep a ranking up with like 9 or 10 more shows to go. (Though I bet the Sydney Opera House will be up there. Yeah… I’m going back to Australia!)

 

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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.

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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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