When the Foxboro, Massachusetts show at Showcase Live was announced, I didn’t plan on going as I knew this was a seated venue with first-come-first-seated privileges, ‘casino-style’ (we’ll seat you where we feel like seating you), and I had seen an Arena tour show back in December from the first row, so figured anything else would be a disappointment. However, when tickets went on sale, they indicated this was going to be a general admission – standing room show, and the ticket price was only $26, so how could I resist?
I hightailed it down to Foxboro after work through the rainy rush-hour traffic, arriving 15 minutes before the doors were scheduled to open at 6pm, to find 50 people already in line in front of me.
I saw Michele setting up the vendor area, all by herself and went to talk to her – she told me people had been talking to her, but had all started lining up and left her to finish setting up. I took a “me & Michele” picture before getting into line.
Soon after I was joined by a couple of people who I was waiting for and they started letting us into the show room. We were surprised to see the floor of the place filled with tables and chairs – evidently the venue had changed their plans, possibly based on the number of tickets sold (with tables in place, they can sell a lot more drinks and food). The tables directly in front of the stage were filling fast, so we grabbed one close to Jesse Gress’s side of the stage, the last one available with seats directly next to the stage.
With two hours to wait before the scheduled show start, there was plenty of time for food and drink and saying hello to old friends and new acquaintances. The usual discussions of what Todd shows others had seen took place – amazing to meet people who went to the same shows you did years ago! Shortly before the show started a guy walked around handing out Todd and Kas ‘heads’ on sticks – a drawing of Todd’s face that said ‘RUNT” and a computer-done Kas face - copied on paper and stuck to paint-stirrers. Everyone got a big kick waving these around and at the band later. Not sure who the guy was who did these, but it was an appreciated “extra”!
Todd and the band (Jesse, Prairie, Rachel and Kasim) came on-stage at about 8:15 and started the show out with the usual opener, Love in Action. We quickly discovered that the venue people didn’t want us standing up (directly in front of the stage) , blocking people’s views who were further back in the place.
After the opening song, Todd quickly introduced the band by first name, explaining that he didn’t want the audience yelling up to the band “Hey you, what’s yer name, let’s see yer ass!” – he wanted everyone to know who they were yelling for!
The set list was the same as previous shows in the latter part of the Arena tour – including Trapped and Black & White in the first part of the show, but not Love is the Answer in the encores.
The overall sound was pretty good, even right in front where we had the direct effect of Jesse’s guitar. All the vocals were at a decent level, and Kasim’s guitar and keyboards were not buried in the mix. Others further back in the seats will have to comment on how it sounded back there. Todd and Jesse wailed on their guitars, as usual, Prairie’s drumming was it usual exemplary quality, and Kas and Rachel continued to supply the tight rhythm and vocal backing to fill out the sound.
The band was in good spirits – having moved from the tiny Ironhorse club in western Massachusetts the night before to the relatively posh trappings of this year-old facility near the New England Patriot’s football stadium (we were told that Todd even had his own dressing room at this venue!)
For Mountaintop, we all got up to dance and cheer for the whole song, doing the ‘higher higher’ – when the song segued into Panic, we sat back down because everyone behind was sitting, but when the final song of the Arena set, Manup, started - screw the rules - we got up on our feet and stayed on them for the rest of the show including the encores, the usual Couldn’t I Just Tell You and Just One Victory.
With just a few more shows left in this part of the Arena tour, we are left with the post-TR tour blues, but the knowledge that Todd is going to keep on touring as long as he can – New England will welcome Todd back every time and every place!