House Of Blues
Atlantic City, NJ
May 5, 2007
I asked Jackie to drive down so I could work on resizing the few pictures I managed to take before and after the Verona and Stroudsburg concerts, and in return, I’d drive us home There was no traffic at all on the ride down, and after I finished the computer work, I even took a short nap, so that was refreshing after much touring and driving.
We arrived in Atlantic City about an hour before the show, and parked in a surface lot, and then walked through the shady bus stop at the Showboat to the casino. I wasn't overly impressed with the Showboat, but once you've been to Las Vegas, Atlantic City looks pretty anemic in comparison. We found the escalator that led to the House of Blues right away, and decided that we had enough time to get something to eat.
We ventured out onto the boardwalk and despite our best efforts to find some food off the boardwalk and away from the wind, we failed, and ended up eating at a pizza stand right in front of the Trump Taj Mahal. The pizza wasn't great, but it was good enough to hold us over. The most amusing part was that the little girl at the table across from us had really low-riding jeans, so I was able to apply the "ask me some stupid question about my butt-crack" line in context.
Right as we were finishing dinner, Adrian called me on my cell phone, and asked where I was. He and Anne were close by, so we met up at the pizza place, and walked back to the Showboat together, passing some Elvis Presley murals on the Hard Rock Cafe, and picking up some free newspapers that had Al on the cover, on the way there.
We made our way up the escalator, and into the most mismanaged line I've ever seen. Nobody knew where to go, and someone was randomly collecting tickets while we were still in line. I did see Mike Minnick in one of the lines at one point, and managed to say hello, but before I knew it, he was gone again.
While security was doing checks on people in line, it was nothing better than random at best. I was convinced that if you moved around enough, you could avoid security all together, but eventually, we, being the outstanding citizens that we are, listened to security's threats that people who tried to smuggle cameras into the venue would wish they had never been born, and walked our cameras back to the car.
After another pass through the shady bus stop, we found out that Adrian and Anne literally parked right next to us. We dropped off our cameras and other stuff we picked up along the way and made our third pass through the shady bus stop into the casino.
When we got back inside, most of the line had entered, so there was no way to avoid security. We knew security was on an ego high when they searched the ten-year-old girl in front of us as if she was a hardened criminal. I've been through less security the last time I flew. "Spread your legs. Put your arms out to your sides. Anything in your pockets? You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to an attorney. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law." Thank you House of Blues security for protecting me from the evil pre-teen girls taking photographs of "Weird Al" Yankovic for their personal scrapbooks. The security guards at the Stroudsburg show and the Atlantic City show were polar opposites.
Once inside, the venue actually looked like a nice place to see Al. The floor was standing room only, but even though we entered so late, we still could have had a great place to watch the show on the floor, had we wanted to. However, because sitting is so much better than standing, and because I had never seen a show from the balcony before, we had decided to get balcony seats for this one. Adrian and Anne went to get some merchandise, and then we made our way up the stairs to our seats.
I wasn’t responsible for buying the tickets this time, but I was following along at home, and there was so much confusion with tickets going on sale in multiple places, missing passwords, and ticket designations that didn't line up with the seating chart, that I should have seen it as a sign to come. The balcony looked like a nice place to watch the show, but unfortunately, the tickets we had on paper sounded much better than the actual seat location was when we arrived. We were way off to the side, so it was impossible to see Steve Jay or Rubén Valtierra, and most of the video screens, and we had to sit at the edge of our seats and lean forward to see Al.
There was a couch two rows in front of us, and we briefly contemplated moving up there, just to spite the venue, but we didn't. About halfway through the show, the rightful owners showed up, so we would have had to move anyway. From our vantage point though, I got to see a lot of what goes on in the sidelines. For example, I had no idea that Jim West had so many guitars! And he must really like them tuned to perfection, because every free moment the stage manager had, he was tuning Jim's guitars. We had a nice rare unobstructed view of Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz though. I'd like to try the balcony again at another point, except not so far off to the side.
During the actual show, the monitors in the balcony showed a zoomed out single camera shot of most of the stage, which was convenient when I wanted to see Steve or Rubén, or when Al went over to Steve side of the stage.
Fortunately, the bad experience at the venue doesn't translate into a bad show by Al. It's a testament to him that he can put on an entertaining show night after night after night. The setlist was unchanged. The first noteworthy difference in the show came at the end of "Canadian Idiot," when instead of red and white streamers, red and white confetti were dropped onto the audience, making me wonder what prompted that change in procedure.
Al brought back "Bob" for the show, and the sequence of t-shirts for "You're Pitiful" were the same as in Verona, so, it appears that he'll switch both up every other show. Although it’s unnecessary, it's nice to see a little variety in the show. I think it probably keeps the band a little fresher too.
Al emphasized the lyrics, "I sued Delta Airlines, ‘cause they sold me a ticket to New Jersey. I went there, and it sucked!" and then paused a brief second and stared out into the audience to see their reaction. He was met with mostly cheers, peppered with a smattering of playful boos. Oddly, no dollar bills fell onto the audience at the end of the song.
During "Yoda," he asked the audience to sing the chorus. The second time trough, he said, "Now just the invertebrates!" and it took me a few seconds to remember back to high school biology, and realize that meant that I should stop singing! I was not alone though, as the vocals coming from the audience took a bit to fade out.
A really odd moment came during the "Fat" jam. All at once, all sound dropped out, as if everything plugged into one big extension cord backstage that someone tripped over. Sound was restored within a few seconds, and the band played on through it, though Al looked a bit surprised and worried.
Al extended the donuts sequence in "Albuquerque" again, and he added some new pet names for his sweetie pumpkin, calling her darling and sugar elbow also. He tried to go for a fourth name, but blanked, so instead he kind of smiled and looked over at Steve and Jim, so they could all find their place in the song. He improvised a little bit at the end where he loses his train of thought. He said he hates it when he gets ten and a half minutes into an eleven-minute song and forgets the lyrics. White confetti dropped onto the audience to signify the end of the show.
After the show, we headed down to the floor and hung by the stage. Helen came over and found us, and then out nowhere, I was surprised to see an old concert buddy, Sharon. It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen her, and she was in town for a convention, so she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see Al here.
Sharon went off to find another friend, and the remaining five of us hung around the stage until they kicked us out. Surprisingly, there were very few people waiting outside the doors. We waited, and waited, and waited, and waited. After some more waiting, we moved to another door, and waited, and waited, and waited. Some time passed, and Jon came out one of the doors. I don’t think he saw us, and immediately met some people and they walked off. We waited and waited, and waited a little more, and it became pretty apparent, this was a lost cause, so we gave up and left.
We made our way through the shady bus stop towards the cars, and Helen let us know she was parked in a parking garage, and had come in a different way. Rather than walk through the shady bus stop again, we took a long way around the outside of the building to the parking garage, and walked.Helen back to her car. She then politely drove us to our cars and we all split and headed home.