Hawaiian Shirts And Raspy Voices

Garde Performing Arts
New London, CT
February 3, 2000

I left work at 3:00 PM to head to the show. On a normal day it should have only taken two and a half hours to get from Newark, NJ to New London, CT. However, there was a horrible five mile delay on Route 95 North in Connecticut, in which, pretty much, no one went anywhere for an entire hour. An 18-wheeler had flipped and taken out three lanes. All three lanes were being diverted to the shoulder. Delays like this are why I always plan extra travel time. I was expecting traffic, but I would have expected it around the George Washington Bridge or in the Bronx, not there. I wasn't worried about missing the show, because venues like this always had an opening act. I was actually more annoyed at having to miss dinner. I was supposed to have dinner with Jackie and Laurie and her family, but there was no chance of that with the traffic. I feel bad about that. Sorry folks.

The merchandise table had nothing new, except for two shirts that now had 2000 tour dates on them. The front designs were still the same. There also appeared to be a red Close Personal Friend Of Al hat, but upon closer inspection that was not the case. It was actually the blue cap oddly lit with a red bulb.

I went inside and Christina was already in her seat. I feasted on a healthy and filling dinner of an entire piece of a Breath Savers. I can't believe I ate the whole thing. Christina gave me these tiny little scissors that actually worked. Well, they move, but I doubt they cut. A voice from three seats down asked me, "Are you Dave?" In the first of three really coincidental seating arrangements during my trip, it turns out to be Richard E Green. We chatted and talked a little bit before the show started.

There was an opening comedian with a bullhorn who really wasn't all that funny. Someone did announce the show was sold out and that they would have Al back at a later date because of it, and then after a brief intermission, the show starts.

The set list was exactly the same as the tour the last year but there were some new video clips. Al's voice really cracked on a few songs. I later found out that he was sick. Someone should have told Al that Hawaiian shirts may cut it in L.A. this time of year, but in Connecticut you better have a warm coat, gloves, and a hat. I bet Al won't make that mistake again.

In "Germs" Al actually came out into the audience, something I had never seen him do during that song before. For about a verse he sang to some people and then returned to stage. Right before "One More Minute," Rubén was playing some interlude type music and instead of thanking Rubén, Al points to Steve and says "Steve Jay on the bass. What a guy!" This totally catches Steve off guard and he scrambles to the spotlight to take his bow. Al didn't appear to give out any boxers this evening, but it was kind of hard to see him as he went far back into the audience and walked up the other aisle. And, in what is still one of the funniest bits, Al shot poor Rubén twice again this evening.

The medley gave Al a little trouble. His voice started to crack again in "Free Delivery" and by the time he got into "Pretty Fly (For A Rabbi)" his voice was entirely gone. The last verse was done entirely instrumental. I felt really bad for Al, and while he could have stopped there, he continued for the rest of the medley.

Al's voice gave him much trouble again during "Smells Like Nirvana." The high notes really got to him. I was wondering if he would be able to finish the show. The only other song that gave him noticeable trouble was "The Saga Begins." You could tell Al's voice was really strained by the end of this song. Al apologized after the song and said, "I'm a bit rusty, sorry about that. Here's Rubén." During "Yoda" there were two fans in costume up near the stage dancing and singing. Al went over and handed them the microphone and they sang part of the "Yoda" refrain.

Even when Al's sick, he still gives it his all. He aims to please his fans and even Al at 75% is better than 98% of the rest of the entertainers at 100%. It was a great show, or as Al called it, dress rehearsal.

The theater cleared out quickly, but Richard, his friends, Christina and I waited around and headed towards a crowd of people at the front of the theater. Diva and Connie, who flew in from California, came over and introduced themselves and everyone chatted for a bit about the Al Team. Security kicked everyone out who did not have a pass. Those that remained were instructed to not ask Al any questions if possible and try not to make him talk so he wouldn't have to strain his voice.

Jon came out and called out for me. I was way near the back of the line and Jon tried to head his way over but kept getting stopped by fans for autographs. I decided I might make better progress by heading his way. On the way over, I got to meet Whitney Cohen, who did the artwork on the fake album covers for the latest Al TV. I got to talk to Jon for a couple of minutes, but he was really jet-lagged so we kept it brief. He was carrying a pillow so I suspect he headed right off to sleep either on the bus or in a hotel nearby.

We got in line to see Al. Christina gave Al a few little gifts and then showed Al her tattoo. She has a tattoo of Al from the self-titled album on her ankle. Al seemed surprised to see it. Christina then asked Al to sign her arm in big chunky letters. He got extremely nervous and jittery, but eventually got his name on the arm.

Al and I chatted for a little bit. He told me that he would probably take "Pretty Fly (For A Rabbi)" out of the setlist for a few shows and then he asked me some questions about "You Don't Know Jack." I didn't know the answers offhand but I gave him my best guess and that seemed to line up with what he thought too. Al obviously didn't give much weight to his gag order as we talked a little bit more and he asked me what other shows I'd be at.

By the time we left, snow had really started to fall. It was starting to get slippery and my car was covered. It was coming down faster than I could clear it. The roads were pretty bad and entirely covered. The snow was really falling pretty hard that night. We headed off because Christina and I had more than an hour drive ahead of us to Providence, RI, and we would have to get up early to go to the tattoo parlor and head to Albany, NY.