That was the theme for this weekend. Unfortunately, I don’t bounce back from that like I used to.
Absolutely ages ago, Bob mentioned that Carole King and James Taylor had announced a reunion tour, and he would really like to see it if it came anywhere near us. Since he *never* says “I would really like to…” I naturally said “sure.” I then dismissed it from my mind, figuring that he would investigate tour dates and locations and such.
I’m foolish that way sometimes.
Somewhere around April, it occurred to me that nothing more had come of this conversation, so I did some lunchtime internet research. Lo and behold, they were playing two dates at the Mohegan Sun Arena, just an hour and a half away. Crap – tickets went on sale in January. Predictably, they were sold out. I investigated other regional dates, and the “best” alternate I could come up with was the TD North Arena in Boston. That was really farther than I wanted to go. So after several days of contemplation, I went out and got tickets on StubHub. I didn’t *quite* pay twice the face value. My comment to Bob was “Happy Father’s Day. Happy anniversary. Happy birthday. Oh – some Merry Christmas also.” I got the best seats that I could afford in the nosebleed section, and imposed on our friend yasmeanie to watch Charlotte. It’s VERY good to have good friends.
Saturday we dropped Charlotte off, and headed down to Mohegan. Due to some confusion about the best route, we were longer on the road than we should have been (next time I’ll listen to Cassandra – or at the very least I’ll mention that she has a different plan.) Then to ice the cake, we missed the turn off for the garage that I wanted to park in. Bob saved the day on that one – he spotted a way to get us turned around to go back for a second pass. Given the amount of creeping traffic we had been stuck in to get turned around, I was shocked at how empty that garage was – I guess people were just following the herd. Unfortunately, that left us with slightly less than thirty minutes before curtain, and I didn’t think we had time to catch the burger that I had been planning on. But you know what? Being a grownup means that you *can* have donuts for dinner if you want/need to. Some sugar, some carbs – that was good to hold me over for a few hours, and we went looking for the entrance to the arena.
I don’t go to that many concerts, but is it usual for all the guys to be patted down before they’ll let you in? And what are they looking for?
With assistance from the staff, we made our way to the correct entry door and headed up. Given the way I bought my tickets, we got incredibly lucky – we were right on the aisle. I always try to get us an aisle seat for Bob’s legs, but this was just luck. I’d never been in the Mohegan arena before. The stadium seating is rather… steep. The backs of the seats in front of you are at just about ankle height. That’s nice, because no one with a hat or big hair is going to block your view. On the other hand, there is nothing in front of you to block the sensation that you’re about to hurtle to your death. We were seated with plenty of time to spare, and I spent the time wondering what the median age of the crowd was. Oh – and wondering about some of the other seating. If I, up where the oxygen gets thin, was sitting in a $100 seat, how much did the seats at the little cabaret tables three feet off the stage cost? A co-worker pointed out that those may be a perk for the casino’s high rollers, which hadn’t occurred to me. It didn’t make it any better though.
They stepped off pretty much on time, to what I thought at the time was a thunderous ovation. What was truly impressive was the band – they had managed to get the original musicians from their tour thirty odd years ago. That’s a neat trick, and I’m still impressed by their bass player. He is Leland Sklar, and apparently he’s something of a legend. He also looks JUST like Gandalf the Grey. That is a serious beard. That is a beard that means business. That is a beard that says “I could play with ZZ Top if I wanted to, but they don’t take their beards seriously enough.” You can tell that it made an impression on me. His playing also made an impression. At one point I looked at him and realized that *all* of his fingers were going on the strings – and he was having a conversation with one of the backup singers at the same time. It reminded me of a filk song called “The Guitarist” that I heard performed a couple of decades ago. It was set at a sci-fi convention, and involved passing a 12 string guitar around, and an alien costume that involved a lot of extra fingers – “looked like twenty four.” The line that came to mind watching Leland play was one about when they realized that “all those little fingers really worked.”
It was a fabulous show. It was actually worth the money I paid for the tickets. I have to tell you – that’s how I want to get old. Carole King was dancing and doing high kicks in six inch heels. The woman is sixty-eight. They both still have good voices – hers has gotten somewhat gravelly, but it works with her songs. She was obviously working hard for the high notes, but she was landing them. They performed twenty-eight songs and three encore pieces for a three hour set. Taylor commented at one point that when they decided to do the tour, they sat down and made a list of the songs that they absolutely *had* to perform – and came up with a six hour set. He said that taking songs off the list was “like leaving your children at camp.” The arena has big screens that the people in the “cheap” seats can watch, but I discovered that you shouldn’t get sucked into them. They were nice for when it was just the two of them playing on piano and guitar, because you could watch their faces/fingers. But when it was the whole band, the screen would be showing a close up of King, and you’d miss seeing Taylor dancing with the guitarist. Besides – if I wanted to watch it on television I could’ve stayed home and watched it on PBS.
The commentary from the two of them on various pieces was interesting. Taylor commented that the first time he heard Russ Kunkel play “Fire and Rain” with brushes, he knew it was something special – which was fascinating to watch when they performed it. King said that the first time she heard Karen Carpenter sing “It’s Too Late,” it made her version sound like a demo tape. Bob said that he’d never realized that “Been to Canaan” was written about Canaan, CT – and that made a whole lot more sense.
Being me, in addition to enjoying the show, my mind was working away at all *sorts* of things.
* Like Bunraku – traditional Japanese puppet theater. “Eh?” I hear you say… I can’t remember when it was first explained to me that the puppeteers are in full sight on stage, but people don’t see them because they’re wearing black – it was a convention that anyone on stage wearing black isn’t there, so people just don’t see them. As a child, this made NO sense to me. How can you not see them – they’re *right there.* Saturday night I finally understood it. There were three cameramen on stage at any given time. One filming King, one filming Taylor, and one roaming. I had to concentrate really, really hard to notice them. When I wasn’t concentrating on them, I couldn’t see them. Because they’re cameramen. They’re ubiquitous in all media in this country, but they’re not really part of the action – so we don’t see them. The mind edits them out. I get it now. Neat.
* I also wondered if the wireless mics and such had a large enough range to require a FCC license, and if so, do they have a permanent license, or do they need a Special Temporary Authorization for each show?
* We wondered if the rotating stage would need to reverse to unwind all the cables, or if it had a slip ring.
I know – I’m not right on a lot of different levels.
It’s always hard to tell with people who are performers for a living, but it certainly seemed like they were having fun down there. Certainly we were all having fun up the stands. They wrapped up the set with “You’ve Got a Friend,” which was terribly poignant. They ended the night with “You Can Close Your Eyes,” which was enough to bring even a troll to tears. *That* is when the ovation was truly thunderous. For once I scored a slam-dunk gift for my husband. I had forgotten that the first concert he ever went to was when Taylor and King toured back in the ‘70s. For once, I got it completely right.
Since yasmeanie had volunteered to keep Charlotte overnight, we decided to catch a bite to eat that was more substantial than a couple of donuts, and hit the burger joint. The line looked terrible, but we only waited fifteen or twenty minutes for a table, and the service was fast. I figured that the extra hour would allow the departing traffic to thin out. I figured wrong, but after we managed to creep our way back to the interstate, it was clear sailing through the rain to home. We got in just past 1:00am, which is WAY past my bedtime.
Sunday morning we slept until we could be human, and went over to retrieve our offspring. No matter how much the squeal that can bend metal offends your eardrums, it’s terribly endearing to be greeted with such delight. She had a good time, but I’m certain that Ginger (the dog) was probably quite happy to see her go.
We accomplished nothing else for the rest of the weekend. Complete loss.