My Taylor Hicks at Hard Rock Live experience started a couple months ago, when tickets went on sale and SpenserJ and I discussed going to the show together. She subsequently bought the tickets for us, but as it turned out, Spense would not be able to go. So she sent the tickets (great front row seats!!) to me, and I tried to find someone else to go with me, but at the last minute, I was unsuccessful. So, I headed off to the Hard Rock by myself because I was not missing a chance to see Taylor live.
First of all, you have to understand this about the venue. It’s at Universal Studios, and it’s a GREAT venue for a concert (big stage and all that) but it’s not all that convenient to access. Those of you who have been to Universal Orlando know about the parking situation. Basically, you have to walk forever just to get from the parking garage to the CityWalk, and then the Hard Rock Cafe is behind the lake on the backside of the property, between Universal and Islands of Adventure. And of course, the Blue Man Group show started at the same time as Taylor’s show, so there were hordes of people walking to that general area when I got there. Not bad, except it was drizzling (gotta love the weather in Florida during hurricane season!). Thankfully, it was just a drizzle and not pouring down rain like it was earlier when I was getting ready. Luckily, parking in the garage is free after 6 pm, so that was no problem.
Now, I’ve never been to a concert at Hard Rock Live before, so I had no idea how the seat set-up was going to be. I knew my tickets were Center, row A, seats 1 and 2. But in a bit of selfishness, I was hoping the seat numbering would go from left to right (from the audience’s perspective) just so I could be on the left side and have a great view of Loren. Ahem. However, this was not the case, as I soon discovered. I was on the opposite side. Sniff. But, as I said, the venue itself is great for a concert. It has a big auditorium style stage, so even though I was on the opposite side, I still had a good view of Loren. And a great view of Taylor, the most important one of course. :)
So, after stopping for an adult beverage, I found my seat and settled in – right in front of the security guard – to do a little people watching for the 10 minutes or so until the show was scheduled to start. I immediately spotted some bedazzler’s and their sparkly, moving-light pins, and a few people with their handy “Taylor Hicks” shirts on. Then, enter the ladies in their short skirts and tight, low-cut tops and roses for Taylor, who had clearly already been having a bit of fun at the bar. So, as I’m taking in the spectacle of the – let’s call them “grown up bedazzlers”, all of a sudden I hear some familiar strains coming over the loudspeakers. As in, I heard this song for 13 weeks straight earlier this year. Yep, you guessed it. Taylor’s sound guy has a great sense of humor. I heard “Home” by Daughtry in the house music mix as I was waiting for the concert to start. I cracked up, especially when someone behind me says “I can’t BELIEVE they are playing this song!” However, all was soon forgotten as the lights dimmed a few minutes later, precisely at 8:00, and the intro music started. It’s almost time for the show!!
At this point, the row behind me stood up. Which of course prompted the two women right next to me to stand up. Which of course prompted me to stand up, because now I couldn’t see. The band took the stage to lots of cheers, and then Loren announced the man we were all waiting to see…. Taaaaaaaaaaylor Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiicks! Here’s where things are going to get a bit fuzzy because I don’t remember the exact order of the songs (you can get the setlist from one of the fansites, I’m sure) and I don’t remember what happened during which song, but there was some fun stuff going on. Taylor was having a BLAST on stage, and it was so fun to watch him up close just letting loose and putting his all into the show.
I do remember that “Give Me Tonight” was the second song (because I was excited they did it – I love that song), and something happened at the end of the (really hot) sax player’s solo, and Taylor and Loren were cracking up. I have no idea what it was, but they were dying up there. During one of the early songs (can’t remember which one), there was a really long lead guitar solo, and the lead guitarist was kicking some major ass. I mean, this guy is GOOD, peeps. Taylor just kept looking at him with like a look of disbelief crossed with a challenging – like a “want to take this further?” – look almost, if you know what I mean. Loren kind of had the same look on his face. It was awesome (ding!). At that moment, I could tell that Taylor loves this – being on the road, performing every night, jamming with these talented musicians. And at that moment, I knew I’d never miss another opportunity to see him live if I have any sort of control over the circumstances.
Let’s see… he did several covers. I can’t remember them all, but the two that really stood out to me were “Medicated Goo” and “Don’t Let Me Down”. Both were fantastic. And yes, this is the second time I’ve gotten to see Taylor sing DLMD live, as I also saw it in Chicago on the AI tour last year. Be a jellus h8r. You know you want to. ;) He also did “Heart and Soul” but I’m not sure he did any more originals that weren’t on the album. Can’t remember for sure though.
“Heaven Knows” followed by “The Maze” was a really fun time. If some of you remember, I was pretty surprised after I saw the concert in February at Universal because I didn’t care for “Heaven Knows” live, which was disappointing because I love that song, and I actually really liked “The Maze” although I was not a fan of the song at the beginning. Well, both of the songs live are great. It was during these two songs that I really missed my dancing partners from the Chicago show, Kerri and PJ. :)
Even though I don’t particularly care for “Just to Feel that Way” as a song, Taylor sings it very well, and did not disappoint with it last night. At the end, some dude did a “bowing down to your greatness” gesture, which struck me as odd. I mean, Taylor is great… but at the end of JTFTW? I’d save that for “The Right Place”, personally. And TRP is totally deserving of it. Although Taylor once again did the “audience sing-along” for the first two lines (sigh), after he got into the meat of the song and it was just him singing, it was wonderful. That song is a gorgeous fit on him. I love it.
He closed out with “Runaround” (another one of my faves) and did a couple teases at the end of walking toward the side of the stage, then coming back until he finally walked off stage. The band finished out playing and they too left, with Loren throwing a little wave out to some people in the front row (not me though, boo. But that’s okay because my crush may have shifted to the sax player anyway. Hee!). Of course, we all cheered immensely for an encore and the guys happily obliged. I actually don’t remember what the encore song was, partially because the two ladies standing next to me started walking up to the front of the stage (there was about a 10 foot space between the front of the stage and the first row of seats). They started to walk up there, then paused and looked at the security guard, who gave his blessing. So, of course, a ton of people followed suit and there’s a big throng of people standing right in front of the stage. I guess this then prompted Taylor to tell the band “Soul Thing… Soul Thing” and they segued into that song as a 2nd encore song. Not sure if he does this in every city or not, but it was cool to get another song in Orlando and the crowd was a lot of fun, for sure.
Once the song was over, the band kept playing as Taylor made his way to the front of the stage to touch hands with fans and sign a couple things for people who had both the item they wanted signed AND a sharpie. This is when the “grown up bedazzlers” had a chance to give the roses they brought for him, which he took, then went to the middle of the stage and put in his mouth and struck a pose. Very cute. Then, he left the stage, and the band finished out the song again and they left the stage and the show was over.
– Taylor was in great voice!
– The venue was pretty full except the back portion of the balcony.
– This band is really good and they are a great fit for Taylor.
– He seemed to be having a blast on stage… even more so than the times I saw him previously.
– The security guards in general seemed pretty laidback. The tickets said “no cameras” so I didn’t even bring one in, but there were people all over taking pics and video and weren’t being stopped by security. So there should be plenty of good video out there.
All in all, it was a great time. Taylor is such a fun live musician and I’ll definitely be at his shows in the future!