Saturday, November 15, 2014

Mama Rocks the Fox: SPeCiaL GueST BLoGGeR!!!!


Mama Rocks the Fox!!

Thanks for the invite to guest blog on my recent concert filled week. I hope the vast reading audience will like it so much they clamor for more. About the blogger, I am mother of one half of rawk talk and I have a long history of concert attendance. In fact, my very first concert was September 16, 1964. As a sixth grader I traveled by Greyhound bus from High Point, NC to Baltimore, MD to see the Beatles on their first American tour, but that story is for another episode of Rawk Talk. 

Saturday November 8, the spouse and I attended the Aretha Franklin show at the grandly beautiful FoxTheater in Atlanta. This was the day after my birthday so as a part of the festivities we splurged on orchestra seats and dang, scored second row, center. The crowd was mainly silverbacks, like us, but there was a sprinkling of 30’s and 40’s as well, which always makes me happy for some reason. I also noticed those pathetic few who wanted to introduce the grandkids to classic soul. Sad for all of them. They had the poor little urchins dressed in their starched khakis, mini Brooks Brothers, Sunday dresses and hair bows. I guess just to make sure the evening was an unforgettable trip into the fires of hell for the little ones. The groups were the usual mix of single ladies, gay couples, multi-cultural, mixed race, and plain vanilla like us. Hats were a frequent fashion statement as were bald heads. But unlike most Atlanta events, people dressed up. They were here to see a Queen.

The deservedly named Queen of Soul was looking good. She has experienced undisclosed health issues and whatever it is has not damaged her voice one bit. She has, however, lost a shit ton of weight. Her breasts, previously the size of large watermelons are now down to the size of large cantaloupes. 

She danced, played the piano, and sang like it was 1971, never missing a high or low note. She opened with a Jackie Wilson tune (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) and the crowd stood and moved their (mostly) arthritic bones in excitement. Arriving center stage she shed the first of 3 fur coats that eventually landed on the grand piano. I was kind of hoping she would get carried away and toss one to the crowd but no such luck. 

 She was backed by a 19 piece band and three great backup singers. The classics mixed throughout the show never failed to bring the crowd to standing while singing along and finger shaking, fist pumping and dancing in place. Chain of Fools, I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Loved You) Freeway of Love, and she closed with the requisite RESPECT. But there were some great surprises. Her rendition of Sam Cooke’s You Send Me was flawless and left me wanting a much longer version. And she really delivered on Adele’s Rolling in the Deep, a song that is perfect for her strong, powerful voice.

 Aretha was the first female artist inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She grew up singing gospel like so many of her peers. Her career includes 112 charted singles and she has won a total 18 Grammies. The show we saw reflected both her otherworldly talent and the beauty and assuredness of a woman who knows she is loved and revered.

Contrast that with Wednesday night, November 12, 2014. Again we are out of the house and off to the Fabulous Fox Theater. This time to see an all-star tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd. Because we spent so wildly on Aretha tickets we had decided to pass on this show but then slow ticket sales forced them to reduce prices. I think they needed a crowd since this concert was filmed. Anyway we bought tickets the week before the show and ended up 10th row orchestra. Our seats were on the far right aisle which turned out to be a great thing. Due to so many artists participating in this show the side door of the Fox (facing Ponce) was turned into stage door for the night. So here comes all the stars, standing beside us, posing for photos with fans and looking rough as hell.

The crowd was so interesting that I randomly noted sights seen on the Facebook for all to enjoy. Let me share.

As for the demographics? A few folks our age, no people of color, mostly 40 and 50 something from (I hope) far, far OTP. They stood for most of the show and raised one arm in the air, either pointing to the sky or fist pumping. This was the pretty universal audience stance throughout. And really, people did yell Free Bird. Of course it was kind of legit and not a joke. 

The entertainment started early, 7:30 and went until almost midnight.

The show opened with Randy Houser rocking Whiskey Rock a Roller. Every act following delivered flawless versions of Skynyrd classics. Blackberry Smoke (from Atlanta) tore up Working for the MCA and Jason Isbell killed I Know a Little. Trace Adkins rocked What’s Your Name. A duo of Charlie Daniels and Donnie Van Zandt energized the tiring audience with guitar solos on Down South Jukin. The spouse and I loved Peter Frampton’s wild bluesy Call Me the Breeze. 

Rickey Medlocke and Johnny Van Zant crank up the “Free Bird.” Photo: Getty Images/Blackbird Productions

We saw also saw Cheap Trick, Gov’t Mule, moe, Alabama, John Hiatt, Robert Randolph, O.A.R., Warren Haynes, but I’m saving the best for last. Greg was there. If you have to ask Greg who, stop reading now. He played organ and sang in a vaguely gospel style, Tuesday’s Gone. 

  Gregg Allman offered a lovely version of “Tuesday’s Gone.” Photo: Getty Images/Blackbird Productions

Then of course as you would expect it was time for Lynyrd Skynyrd. First every single performer in the show for full stage, rousing, Sweet Home. This nearly drove the crowd to frenzy. And as you would expect, they closed with the redneck anthem, the southern siren song, the heckler’s chorus, Free Bird. 

The evening was one of hair whipping and amazing guitars. It was late and we had to work the next day but we stayed until the lights were up and Roy Rogers was singing Happy Trails to You. 

Reflecting back on this stunning week of concerts I am amazed that I have been lucky enough to see some of the most influential musicians of all time. Their talent and inspiration has been a constant with me as I grew up, raised a family, and worked hard. It has put me to sleep and helped me wake in the morning. And now I am sharing with you gentle Rawkers. Rawk on. 

1 comment:

  1. This makes me want to quit Rawk Talk and just let Nancy do it. She's a better writer, is cuter, and goes to see more relevant shows. Meanwhile I will start a new blog called Who Remembers Khajagoogoo? and continue with my random thoughts that should never be read. Well done, Nancy.