I have absolutely no excuse for not blogging in 2 months. None of interest anyway. But – I’m back.
And so is, after an indeterminable dry spell, Clay Aiken.
I had begun to lose interest until I found out about Clay’s one-night show scheduled for March 12. My interest slowly gained after tickets went on sale but I did not buy them until after experiencing an excruciating 20 minute “I Shot the Sheriff” guitar riff by Eric Clapton at Madison Square Garden. [I had gone with husband and a friend. ]
The next morning, I ordered Clay Aiken tickets. Payback? Perhaps.
Clay’s show highlighted “Tried and True”, his soon-to-be-released CD , which was taped by PBS for airing sometime this summer. And man, was this a production.
So, we get to the concert hall (nice place – Memorial Auditorium in Raleigh), and we wait in the packed lobby and I notice we are standing next to a cute guy talking to a middle-aged woman. Hmm, I have seen this guy’s picture before. He is thin, he has a head of curly black hair… I nudge husband, whisper “That’s Clay’s boyfriend!” Husband says “No, that is some guy on a date with a cougar.”
Um. No. People start coming up to him to take pictures and get his autograph. It is the boyfriend, Reed, and the cougar is his mother. Ha.
Anyway, we finally go upstairs to our top left corner balcony seats – Ticketmaster’s “best available” – and it does not take long to realize that we had been had. No way were these the best available, the balcony was virtually empty, and the sides downstairs were only half full. The usher that approached me to see if my binoculars were a not-allowed camera said he was surprised because he had heard the concert had been sold out.
Something went awry with ticket sales to this show. I am still pondering – what. Unsold broker tickets? Clay fans throwing away balcony tickets for better seats? Whatever it was, the concert started late because the staff was trying to move people to fill the side seats. We moved to the front center section of the balcony, where the TV camera crane no longer obscured our view.
Finally, the stage lights up in an array of color. Purple, gold, pink.
The orchestra swelled.
And there is Clay, his back to us. The crowd cheers. And he turns to face the audience. And opens his mouth to sing. “Mack the Knife?”
His voice was amazing. He used his lower register like it should be used – smooth and deep and chill-inducing. Now I knew why I came to this show, now I remembered what I did not know I was missing. Wow.
He sang the songs from his new CD, which has a Johnny Mathis vibe. Old songs from the 60’s era. Beautiful melodic songs I had not heard in forever. Moon River [which, by the way, Clapton did in his concert as well, what is this Moon River resurgency?] It’s Impossible. [Yes, that is Perry Como, but I don’t care, he wrapped his voice around this one, it was amazingly good.] Unchained Melody [off the charts fantastic!] The Beatles’ “In My Life.” “Misty.”
There was a surprise guest …… Ruben Studdard! Ruben sounded great, and looked great, he lost over 100 lbs. They will be performing together this summer.
The best thing about a concert that is being taped for TV? Do-overs! After the show ended, Clay was instructed by the music director to redo 4 songs. We got to hear them again, yay!
It was a great night. I have only one nagging regret, that we did not wait outside for him after the show. I figured, there are no buses [this is in his hometown, this is not a “tour”], so we just left. I was wrong. He came out and shook hands, so I hear.
Oh well, I guess I am just gently dipping my toe back into the whole Clay scene.
It was well worth it.
Maybe next time…
[photo by Jim R. Bounds, AP]