Wow! What a night for a show and what a show it was! First, the facts. My girlfriend, Kelly, had taken sick the evening before and had to work the day of the show, nonetheless, so, by the time we were finally able to leave, it was almost 6:30. Amazingly, she started to feel almost miraculously better as we made our way to the car and got on the highway for the 75 minute trek from Baton Rouge to the House of Blues in New Orleans - a good sign! Traffic was amazingly light ( Mardi Gras having just ended two days before ), so I did 80 the whole way - there was no way that I was going to let a chance to actually get on stage with O.H. slip away this easily. Well, we slid into town, parked, and hurried to the HOB, where a long line of equally rabid fans were queued up, anxious for the evening to get started.
A rather large man asked us as if we were there for dinner or for the show. Not bothering to even look at him as I whisked Kelly and myself past he and the adoring throngs, I hollered back, "Dinner!" as we made our way to the front door. Another employee posed the same question and I repeated my rejoinder as we scurried to the ticket counter, then inside. We had made dinner reservations so that we could be in the short line, but, were well over a 1/2 hour late. Our prospects for getting a chance to realize our shared dream of getting onstage with the Master and his court seemed dreadfully dismal as the VIP's and the short line began milling in through the door, I must say. I needed to take action, and FAST. I needed a move that was as equally smooth as it was bold. All of these other people that were being let in earlier than the rest of the crowd had special little plastic bands on their special little wrists. A certain, rather cool-looking dreadlocked individual was halving the tickets. "Wait here, honey. I'm going to talk to this guy", I told my sweetheart.
I sallied forth.
"Um, I'm supposed to meet a guy named Officer Al, here", I said, trying really hard not to sound like one of those dumb guys on the subway who walks up to David Letterman asking, " Uh..... uh..... you got any gum?"
I was, I must admit, happily surprised, when my newly-discovered Rastafarian friend waved me through with a friendly, "Yeah, go ahead, mon." He tore my tickets as I yelled back through the pressing horde, "Kel-LY-EE-EE-EE!! COME ON!" After only a minor bit of confusion created by some guy who thought he could pass himself off as being with her, we were suddenly and magically inside the place, with hardly anyone else around. We had passed a rather tall and loudly dressed individual as we made our way out towards the front of the stage, who asked, "Hey, how you doin'?" as we made our way. We turned and said, "Hi", to which he, in turn, responded by saying, "Well, you two look very tropical tonight" and asking us if we wanted to be in the show. I picked Kelly's jaw up off the floor and said, "We were hoping!" It was Al!! It worked!! Wow! ( Thanks to everybody who submitted reviews and clued me into the password ). "Just be at the stage door 15 minutes before showtime", he instructed us. "Just try and stop me", I thought.
We spent the remaining time counting the seconds going by, and, BOOM! - there we were, looking across the stage at the other happily beaming faces sharing this incredible honor with us. A few minutes went by before, one by one, Jesse, John and Prarie each made their way onstage. Kaz brought up the rear as they launched into "Caravan". This was great!
Musically, the sets were identical to the previous shows on the tour. Todd's voice sounded particularly good, even for him. I was thrilled to hear "Zen Archer" in performance for the first time. Other highlights included an exuberantly executed "Can't Stop Running" during the second set and a solo, acoustic rendition of "Tiny Demons", apparently a reference to South Park.
Anyway, a splendid time was had by all. The looks on the faces Kelly and Gretchen as Todd sang, "Hello, It's Me" while RIGHT next to them, looking them in the eyes and singing soulfully, was worth the price of admission twenty-fold. The fog machine billowed copious pillows of vapor across the stage at the end of the second set. That was pretty cool. Todd spent a little while sharing his views on Saddam Hussein ( a momentary tangent inspired by front-row cigar smoker ), the media's morbid facination with Presidential private parts ( "..when I run for President" said Todd, "...I'm just going to run a big picture of my penis on the internet...That way, when somebody I never met before steps forward to cast aspersions on me by claiming to know for a fact that my penis bends this way or has a mole in this place,..... I'll be able to say,' Yeah! But, everybody knows that! It's on the net!' " ), and, last, but, certainly not least, the Grammy Awards.
Todd seemed particularly amused/disgusted with R. Kelly, remarking, "What was that? Goat-Boy?" Well, hell, Todd, I don't know what the hell it was, but, I do know one thing, at least, and that is that it is a truly an amazing world. Guys like R."Goat-boy" Kelly run around profusely thanking whatever particular higher being they've amalgamated themselves with for the divine guidance they had in making their video about how great high-school level sexuality is; meanwhile, I'm sitting at the feet of a true artist. And, not just any artist, but, one who should, by all rights, be included amongst names like, Dylan, Lennon, McCartney, Hendrix, and the other immortals. Let's face it, on certain levels, TR has taken music and rock and roll to new, previously unimaginable places. He reminds me so much of Mozart, unappreciated and largely overlooked during his lifetime; or, even Van Gogh, as portrayed by Don McLean in the tune, " Vincent " ( ".... they're not listening, still,........perhaps they never will.").
We were still savoring the deliriously delicious moments of the show the following morning and I'm sure we will for years to come. Our only real disappointment was that so few of our usual band of Toddlidites made it to the show? Where were they? Is a little more promotion in order, here, or what, guys?