Taylor Hicks is at Ballys. This is last Monday night's performance. It's an hour before show time. The line begins to form, the buzz begins to swirl. The excitement is palpable. "Have you seen him before?" "Oh Yea, lots of times and he's great! Have you?" "No, never but I've heard about this and I can't wait to see it!"
So it goes....The excitement continues to climb and swirl, and soon, they are letting us in! Immediately, I knew I'd landed in Taylor Hicks Twilight Zone...this was truly going to be an out of body, out of mind experience. I have a front table. As I glance around me, I see many difference expressions on many faces, but they all spell A.N.T.I.C.I.P.A.T.I.O.N. They've heard about it, they've read about it, they've seen snippets of it....and now they are about to LIVE IT!
The band walks out onto the stage and waits. The Jimmy Fallon "Friday" clip begins to play. Those of us who know what is in store, or think we know, are already shaking with energy. Those who have not seen Taylor Hicks before are waiting, not knowing what they are going to be hit by in just a few moments. And then.....the Soulman is announced by his fabulous keyboardist, Brian Less....and Taylor literally bursts onto the stage. There isn't time to prepare adequately, no time to breathe deeply or call for oxygen....the barrage has begun and IT'S GOOD!
Taylor Hicks in concert at Ballys, Vegas is an experience no one who loves live music should miss, if at all possible to see it. As he takes the stage and the mic, his pure and powerful voice full of soul captures you and enraptures you, and from the first notes and quirky Taylor moves, you are mesmerized.
Tonight is no exception! He begins with "Living For the City," an immediate snap back to his past Idol performances and win. The crowd goes crazy. From there on, it's just great stuff! Saturday night, Taylor sang "Minute by Minute," a nod to Michael McDonald. On this night, he changes that nod to "Taking It To The Streets." Everyone is dancing in their seats and again, as I look around me, the smiles are big enough to light the entire casino. I am smiling and also, tearing up, because I am back watching a young man on American Idol who has captured us like no other due to his odd and often goofy, but so endearing style. And then watching this same musical genius headline his own show in Las Vegas, and my own goofy emotions just take over.
This Taylor Hicks show delivers like all his shows do, but there is just something extra magical about tonight. The band is rocking out, especially Brian Less on keyboards and Jamie McLean on guitar. And Taylor is singing a funky, bluesy, and masterful version of "The Ghetto." When he finishes, the crowd goes crazy! Earlier in the show, he blew us away with "Back To Louisiana," but this performance of that much loved Elvis song is so amazing, it tops it all for me. And the ever poignant "Nineteen" brings its customary and moving standing ovation for Taylor Hicks and his talented band, with Brian Gallagher adding his soulful sax at the end.
We end with "Seven Mile Breakdown," which has the entire audience dancing and screeching and cheering. There is a couple from Mississippi who is familiar with the Florabama, and they are just enthralled with this song. People are dancing in the aisles, people are clapping til their hands ache and singing along, and most of all....there is F.U.N. in abundance! When Taylor leaves the stage, the audience is pulsating with high excitement for his encore. And then, he bursts back onto the stage and gives us what we all feel after seeing him there..."Viva Las Vegas!"
There is no doubt...Taylor Hicks is a FEEL GOOD show! There is also no doubt that he is a consummate professional and probably one of the best live stage musicians around. If you are in Vegas and miss this show, you have missed the coolest musical opportunity on the strip. He is there one more week and then off to Harrah's in Reno, so GET A TICKET to the most amazing and enjoyable musical ride you can find!
Just a personal note....after the show as Taylor Hicks stands among adoring fans, both present and new, to sign items and take pictures, I am filled with pride, albeit a small pride. I am not his family, management, or intimate confidant. I am just a fan of the man and his music....a very PROUD fan.
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