I love watching Taylor Hicks perform music live. So when I recently moved to Canada, I sadly assumed those opportunities were behind me. He barely dipped his toe in Canadian waters in the past, only steering the tour bus over the Rainbow Bridge into Niagara Falls, Canada. (Now I'm distracted by an image of him sticking his foot in the rapids over the falls. Not exactly what I meant. ha. Anyhoo-)
Two years ago I got a "Save The Date" card in the mail from my nephew, who was getting married in New York in July 2010. So, of course we planned our yearly trip back home to coincide with the wedding. To my delight, Taylor very thoughtfully scheduled a show during that visit to Long Island.
You've all read the reviews and seen the videos from The Highline Ballroom in NYC on July 25. I doubt there's anything new to say. But today I came across my ticket from the show which I had printed out on letter-sized paper. All along the margins on the front and across the back were scribblings I had made during the show.
I never intended to write a review, take pictures or video. I just wanted to experience the music. But shortly after the show started, I found myself fumbling for a pen. It was too good to forget.
I believe that was the best Taylor Hicks show I've been to. I've seen him display skill, confidence, playfulness and joy in the past but not to this degree.
Maybe all those nights performing in Grease helped kick his stage presence up a notch. Maybe being away from the clubs gave him a new perspective. Maybe he was just damned good and ready to sing his own music again. When the music started up and Brian called out, "Give it up for Taylor Hicks!" he danced out. Yeah, he was ready.
Let's see if we can make some sense out of my scratchings on the back of my ticket:
Jeff Lopez got applause when he came out on stage.
Before Taylor sang "The Deal," he said it was an ode to Stephen Bishop and the movie, "Tootsie." *pause* Taylor added, "I know what you're thinking and that ain't it."
I think he's gonna have to be cut out of his pants.
Taylor: "This looks like a 'Storyteller's' room. You want a story? How much time you got?"
Taylor: "Because of you guys I don't have to work. This isn't work."
Where's his Ray Charles doll? (Do me a favor? Don't bring him another one. Let it go!)
Standing ovation for "Battlefield."
During "Soul Thing" I could swear he couldn't find his harmonica again. ("Play the piano," he quietly told Brian)
Taylor: "I'm breaking out some older songs that I hope you'll like. If not, I may be out of a job shortly. I may have to put that Teen Angel suit on again." *laughter* "Which wasn't such a bad gig, by the way. The other actors would come off stage with their tongues hanging out of their mouths and I'd be sitting there in my robe and slippers." He pantomimes smoking a cigarette. "What's that? You want me to sing a song for five minutes? Sure. I can do that."
Taylor: "Rob Shuter's here. The only journalist that likes me. And I'm not kidding about that." In a deep, gruff voice: "It's not about them. It's about us, right?" (Movie reference? It got laughs but I didn't get it.)
Taylor: "My good friend Mandisa's in the house! Give it up for Mandisa!"
He tried to do a New York accent at one point. "I got some weird looks up here. And I don't think it was because of my accent."
During "Seven Mile Breakdown" Taylor closed his eyes and sang, "Let me get right down to it..." A guy next to me yelled out, "Get down to it!!" Music played as we waited for Taylor to sing the next line. Eyes still closed, he slowly smiled and said, "OK." *laughter*
What a great night. Taylor Hicks has matured as an entertainer. There was a moment during "Hold On To Your Love" when I thought to myself, "this is brilliant." I remembered what it was about his performances that made my toes curl. Taylor Hicks, the musician. Man, I've missed you.
And now, if you're wondering about that Stephen Bishop reference, here ya go: