Saturday, May 31, 2008

Take It To The Limit...

So, after a 4 day weekend celebrating Memorial Day that included what was, to me, the ultimate concert I've ever attended (within my limited realm of concerts) in the Clapton show, I returned to work to find an email looking for takers for tickets to the Eagles Friday night show at Madison Square Garden.


Holy Hannah in a Handbasket!!!!

FREE tickets in the Dow Jones LUXURY BOX?!

My very first thought was "I can't go...I don't have anyone to go with or any way to get down there". Then I wondered...there were a few tickets, and I was told there were NO would my parents like to go too? I knew my mother liked their music, but my father thinks music stopped after 1950. So I phoned and asked. Since they knew how much I wanted to see them, but how the cost was always so prohibitive, they agreed.

So, I scored 3 tickets to the a Luxury Box.

I did a happy dance!!

I decided to work thru lunch and leave the office at 4. Good thing I did, because of the crane accident up on 91st there would be mega traffic no doubt. We decided to drive, to avoid sitting in traffic in the city in a taxi with the meter running. We ended up sitting in traffic on I95! Took us almost 2 hours to get to the FDR Drive! Once on the FDR, it was smooth sailing to the Garden, kamikazi pedestrians notwithstanding.

We arrived at MSG around 6:15 and paid $43 for 10 hours of parking that I was sure I wouldn't need. We decided to get something to eat inside the arena, and waited for the doors to the Lux Boxes to open. Once inside, we had to take an elevator up to the 10th floor. There were 2 buttons in the elevator: 3 and 10. So, we pushed 10 and zipped upstairs to a nice open lobby. We then were directed to a narrow hallway. Our box number was 1024. We stood at 1000, and started our trek...uphill. Yes, we were indeed in the attic of Madison Square Garden. Even the ceilings were slanted like in an attic.

We got to our box and were the first to arrive. Inside a waitress was setting out chaffing dishes with hamburgers, hotdogs and chicken fingers in them, along with condiments and wraps. There were chips, dips, cheeses, crackers, fruits and bowls of M&Ms. There was also a fully stocked bar with top shelf liquor and juices and sodas.

The Lux box was at the very top of MSG. I swear, if I had the nerve, I could have reached out and unscrewed the bolts from the ceiling, thats how HIGH we were. And while I knew that MSG has the worlds largest suspended roof, I never knew it was concave. I know it now!! Wowza!

The one thing that freaked me out was the seating. The booth was open, with maybe a foot high piece of glass that came up to around my waist being the only thing between me and a certain freefall to the blue seats below. No thank you. There were two rowes of stadium seating, and I opted instead to sit at the bar behind those two rows. I kept my back against a solid wall and felt much better about it.

It started to get very warm in our box, and we looked for the air conditioning, but were informed that the Garden had turned the a/c off, as requested by the band. Thanks guys! Heat, as we all know, rises. So by the time the arena filled up and the band took the stage, we were doing a slow boil. But it was all worth it.

The Eagles took the stage at 8:30, wearing black suits, white shirts and black ties. They played for about an hour, a mix of their classics and some selection from their new album, The Long Road Out of Eden, their first full studio album in 28 years! They took a short break after about an hour, and returned, jacketless, to play a GREAT acoustic set! The rest of the night was a mix of old, new, and solo music. Joe Walsh brough down the house with his version of Lifes Been Good and I finally got to hear Boys of Summer live!

The ending was the best though. They closed on Desperado and the stage was dark, except for the spotlight on Don Henley, in his suit, singing. Just beautiful!

Heat aside, this was a fabulous concert. Not as musically awakening as Clapton was, though, because unlike that show, I knew 90% of the songs sung at this one! My father had NO idea how good they were and totally enjoyed the show. My mother was surprised at how much of their music she knew, but never realized it was them.

I loved it! The show ended at around 11:45 that night and by the time I got home, I was just exhausted...from excitement? or maybe heat exhaustion? Whatever it was, I dropped like a brick and slept until after 11 this morning!

I would SO go see them again, except this time in an outdoor arena where I have a chance of catching a cool breeze somewhere ;)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Wonderful Correction...

So, it's been brought to my attention that the set list I posted for Saturday's Eric Clapton show at the Borgata was incorrect...what I posted was the set list for Sunday's show. As I said, I only knew 5 songs by name LOL To be honest, not knowing the songs names did not diminish my complete enjoyment of the show. Musically, it was the single best show I have ever seen. Ok, he's not a showman like Ricky Martin, but hey, will Ricky Martin have a career in music that spans 40-odd years like Eric? I think not. Hip shaking is not an art. Eric Clapton lets the music speak for itself. So much talent. I'd go see him again tomorrow if I could!!

So, here is the correct set list...

1. Tell The Truth
2. Key To The Highway
3. Hoochie Coochie Man
4. Little Wing
5. Outside Woman Blues
6. Double Trouble
7. Don't Knock My Love
8. Drifting
9. Rockin' Chair
10. Motherless Child
11. Travelling Riverside Blues
12. Running On Faith
13. Motherless Children
14. Little Queen of Spades
15. Before You Accuse Me
16. Wonderful Tonight
17. Layla
18. Cocaine

19. Crossroads

Thanks to Eric Clapton Online for the correct list.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Wonderful Tonight


As some of you know, my mother scored free tix to a private Eric Clapton concert in Atlantic City this weekend.

Now, I am familiar with Eric Clapton, and I know some of his music, and I even have one of his cd's but I'd never consider myself a 'fan'. I simply went because it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the man considered one of the ultimate guitar players of the rock era, in the "Event Center", small venue. Plus, it was free.

We went down to Atlantic City Saturday morning, and had to pick, up the tickets. They changed both the location and time of the pickup. I got to the line (yes, they stand in line, but now I know why) and there were maybe 100 or so people ahead of us. We had to go into one of the nightclubs at the casino to pick them up, and it was the first time I was in one...I'm far too old, too fat and too clothed to go into those places LOL Once inside, the lines were broken down by you last initial, and we picked up the tix. They didn't look like tickets from ticketmonster. They were just glossy bookmarks that said ERIC CLAPTON with the date. I looked on the back and it said "SECTION 200" with a seat number. So I moseyed on over to the box office and checked out the seating chart. I was in the back of the floor section. Not too shabby when you consider the capacity was only around 2500.

We were told "the show begins at 8 PROMPTLY, so make sure you are IN YOUR SEAT by 8!" several times by those in the ticket pickup, so I had my kiester up there by 7:30. Come to find out, the "Event Center" was nothing more than their grand ballroom with temporary risers set up and a bunch of banquet chairs strung together in front of them. By banquet chairs, I mean those little scalloped back chairs they squeeze 10 of around tables at weddings. The kind not made to be comfortable, just functional.

Now, anyone who knows me knows I don't have an ass made for "functional". To say we were squished is an understatement. None of us knew where to put our arms, since we didn't know each other and decorum dictates that you not squeeze your neighbors bewb unless you know their name. Happily, the people next to us didn't show, so we spread our big butts out LOL

8:00 pm promptly came...and no Eric. People start chatting. The woman in front of me scored front rows at Newark for the Eagles the following night (hate her!) the one along side of me had a son in law who worked at PNC Art Center who said Clapton sucked the big one the night before at PNC. The tall girl on the other side of me knew the waiter we knew from Ballys. Yakkity Yakkity Yakkity. Mike Rowe would have loved it. So, it was pushing 8:20 and still no Eric. Tall girl decided she needed a drink (open bar for the big gamblers, don't ya know!) and when she came back in she said "NO WONDER he's not onstage...HE'S OUT THERE GETTING A DRINK!" :)

Anyway, 8:30 rolled around and the house lights finally went down. Eric Clapton stepped out on stage. Now, I'm not familiar with a whole lot of his work, to be honest. I know some songs by name, and others by sound, but the entire body of his work is too vast and too before my time truthfully. I knew the sound of the song he opened with, but not the song.

But from the opening chords, I was mesmerized.

I have never, in all of my life, heard anyone play guitar like Eric Clapton.

While I was expecting a lot of rock, what I got was a much more mellow blues oriented show. He switched guitars several times, and seemed to have a designated 'guitar wrangler" who took care of it all. He even did an acoustic set.

I was a tad bit disappointed when he didn't do the acoustic version of "Layla". However, when he broke into "Wonderful Tonight", he thoroughly redeemed himself for that. What an amazingly beautiful version!! And of course he did play the rock version of Layla, so all was right with the world.

I did kind of feel bad for him. Here he was playing, his heart out, putting emotions and feelings into his guitar playing. But, because this was an "invited guest" show, it was not a rabid Eric Clapton fan fest. Rather, it was a bunch of people, ranging in ages from I'd say late 70s-early 80s to about mid 40s. I was among the youngest there. The really old folks sat there for a song or two, then left. In the beginning, the response from the crowd was a mix of wild applause and reserved clapping.

As the disinterested went back to the casino to begin losing money toward the next invitation only show, those of us left started to really get into the show. I knew he was winding down when I heard "Running on Faith" and realized that it was the first song that I knew the name of. He was surely ending by playing his bigger hits. By the time he got to "Wonderful Tonight", the audience was singing and starting to come down from the risers to move to the front of the stage. When he closed with "Cocaine", everyone was singing along with him.

Here is the set list...the date is Sunday night's show (the paid prices were $500 and $400 for floors (my seats were $400 ) and $300 & $200 for the risers, but when you factor in that it's only 2500 seats, it makes it worth it for a real fan to pay that for the intimate setting), but I do believe it was the same show we saw:

25 May 2008 Set List / The Borgata, Atlantic City NJ:

01. Motherless Children
02. Key To The Highway - EC started the song on slide, then switched guitars mid-song
03. Hoochie Coochie Man
04. Little Wing
05. Outside Woman Blues
06. Double Trouble
07. Don't Knock My Love
08. Drifting
09. Rockin' Chair
10. Motherless Child - EC used a 12 string Martin in open tuning with a capo at the 5th fret
11. Travelling Riverside Blues - EC used a black strat set up for slide with open tuning.
12. Running On Faith
13. Tell The Truth
14. Little Queen of Spades
15. Before You Accuse Me
16. Wonderful Tonight
17. Layla
18. Cocaine

19. I've Got My Mojo Working (with Robert Randolph)

Some random musings:

~Saw several older audience members who sat there with blank expression on their faces for most of the show. I doubt they knew who he was, and probably weren't even sure what kind of music he played when they got the tickets.

~Gamblers can be arrogant s.o.b's. The ticket distribution was random. Basically, the earlier you got there, the closer your seats. And yet, there were still some kicking up a fuss because they felt they should be closer than they were. Seriously, its a free ticket. Sit back and enjoy!

~Older women like Eric Clapton. There was one old gal behind me screaming WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! into my ear for half the show. Ouch. There was another who started dancing the second he came out and didn't stop until the show was over. She's a huge Clapton fan. At one point, a couple of random younger guys were dancing with her. It was too funny. I saw her the next day and she was STILL on a cloud LOL

~Eric Clapton is God. I said this to my friend after the show, and just found out tonight that that is actually a statement made by fans. If you said to me tomorrow "You want to go see Clapton?" I would say YES!!!

~MY MOTHER, who never likes anything, is now a fan of Eric Clapton. Enjoyed the show thoroughly!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Hotty Toddy

So yesterday, Shepard Smith gave the commencement address at his beloved University of Mississippi~Ole Miss.


As you can guess, I'm quite proud of him.

But not everyone seems to be.

I read a few negative editorials prior to the commencement, and in some ways, I could understand their point of view.

No, no one was sore that someone from the dreaded FoxNews stable was giving the address.

What they were a little perturbed by was the fact that Shepard Smith, while an alumnus of Ole Miss, was not a graduate.

While Shepard attended the University for 5 years, he never moved his tassel from one side to the other and heard the words "you are graduated". He never received a diploma. And yet, he is probably one of the most successful people to ever attend the university.

A man without a college degree was giving an address to those who graduated...with the degree he so obviously lacks.

I could definitely understand why those editorial authors were a bit distressed by the choice of Shepard Smith as speaker. How can you possibly have someone who dropped out of college and became successful address people who worked very hard to earn their degree at their own graduation.

As Warner Wolff would say, let's go to the video tape.

Shepard is highly regarded as the most successful, most watched anchorman on cable news. Recently, FNC rewarded him for this with a huge payraise~an estimated 7-8 million dollars per year. He is top rated, highly praised and easily recognized. He is authoritative, funny, charming (that damn impish grin that totally sucks me in every time!) and unquestionably the best reporter on his feet when on the scene.

But...did he learn the skills to be the best at Ole Miss? Or is it something that lies more within his nature, some skill that he honed and nurtured on his own?

I have nothing against education, as I myself am a college graduate and would not have the job I hold without my degree.

But, is a degree in Journalism something that Shepard needed to do his job? According to Smith himself, he took all of his journalism classes, and was missing only a Spanish class to graduate.

The whole point of a college education, one where we not only take the classes required for our chosen major, but also other required classes in subjects we aren't majoring in, is to get a well rounded education. To be able to be versed in other subjects, which do indeed all come into play at various times in our lives.

Shepard is missing this.

I'm not saying hes not qualified to do his job. I KNOW he is. But, I do know that it nags at me a tweak at times that I know he doesn't have his degree. And it makes me wish he'd just take the darn class online and get it done. But then something happens~a Hurricane Katrina or a war in Israel or a bridge collapse in Minnesota~and there he is, the best reporter on his feet, giving me the details from the scene. And I know that Shepard Smith is the best that there is. He has honed and fine tuned his skills to be the sharpest out there.

And that's when I think, while I'd like for him to have his degree so that he could say YES I DO HAVE A DEGREE IN JOURNALISM FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI, I know that having a degree in a subject does not MAKE person good at it. I can assure you, there are reporters out there with degrees in Journalism who are NOT good reporters, just as there are accountants out there with degrees who can't set up a spreadsheet if their lives depended on it.

No, Shepard Smith is a damn good reporter, degree or no degree, and those who graduated yesterday at the University of Mississippi were damn lucky to have him expound on life for them.

I hope they listened and learned.