Thank You New Jersey!

PNC Bank Arts Center
Holmdel, NJ
July 20, 2003

After having traveled so far for so many shows, it was nice to finally have a "Weird Al" Yankovic concert going on so close to home. And since it was a Sunday, I could relax all day, eat dinner at a reasonable time before I had to leave, and still take my time getting there. And I love New Jersey audiences. They really get into the shows they see and I've never seen any other audience compare, except in New York City. I knew even before I got here that this was going to be a great show.

I was a little disappointed with my seats. I purchased tickets about five minutes after they went on sale was in row T. Shannon, who had purchased tickets a few weeks later ended up with better seats than I had. I donít understand how that worked out. The seats were really tight too, with little leg room. At least my seats were in the center, which I generally prefer to be in the center and farther back than off to the side and closer.

Anyway, about 4:00 on the day of the show I get a phone call from my friend Steve. He has an extra ticket and is looking to unload it. I call my mom and she says sheíll go as long as Steve can get the ticket to either her or me by 5:00 because thatís when I need to leave to pick up Brittany and my mom will only go if she doesnít have to drive. So Steve agrees and Iím waiting around and 5:30 rolls around and no Steve and no tickets. I canít wait any longer so I call my mom, tell her what happened and leave. Steve finally shows up about 6:00 but my mom says itís too late.

I ran into Steve at the show and apologized for not being able to wait any longer and I think he went off to try to unload the ticket in the parking lot before the show started. We meet up with Shannon and her boyfriend Mike, and head into the venue.

On the way to the Wallingford, show, I had noticed that every tollbooth on the Garden State Parkway was advertising Alís PNC show. Adrian had taken a picture of the sign and posted it to the Forum, so the next day I remembered that I had a friend whose dad works for the Parkway. I emailed my friend and explained about the signs and by the end of the day, my friend was mailing me two signs for my collection.

I decided to give my extra sign to Bermuda for his archives, so I put the sign in some cardboard to protect it, put in some newspaper clippings I had been saving to share with him, and a letter of intent for Al to sign giving us permission to go ahead on the Star on The Hollywood Walk Of Fame campaign, and brought all of that to the concert.

At the gate, the security guy gave me a hard time because of all the stuff I was carrying. He made me take out the sign and prove to him that there was no offensive language on it. I guess thatís kind of good because it distracted him from checking Brittanyís bag fully. He didnít check the zippered compartment. We were sneaking in a camera, not to use for the show, but to use for the after show activities. They have a strict no camera policy at the PNC Bank Arts Center.

Once inside we checked out the merchandise booth and I noticed that there was a new red baseball shirt. I didnít have enough money for it, so I made a mental note to bring more money to the next show.

We went to our seats and Shannon and Mike theirs. The venue was entirely full, except for the lawn seats, which is amazing considering the size of the place. But Jersey fans couldnít stay away.

Shannon and Brittany wasted some time calling each other on cell phones, and the opening act came on shortly after 8:00. He was okay as far as acts go, appropriate for the audience, but not overwhelmingly great. His act was a bit of ventriloquism, some magic and some comedy.

Al finally came on about 20 minutes later to a huge burst of applause. People sitting around me were going crazy and from what I could see everyone else in the place was too. Al and the guys seemed especially energetic this show. I love it when Al plays off the audience and the audience plays off of him.

"Party At The Leper Colony" was dedicated to none other than Mr. Erik Estrada, Ponch from the CHiPS television show. Since Ponch couldnít be there, he phoned Al before the show and asked that at some point in the show he did a song about leprosy.

The crowd really enjoyed "A Complicated Song." There was so much laughter for that one you could hear it over the singing.

After "Melanie" Al told the audience that although they usually stuck to a setlist, they were going to do something different and stray from the setlist and take a request from the audience. All at once everyone screamed as loud as they could for the song they wanted to hear. How Al heard through all that screaming Iíll never know, but ultimately, "One More Minute" won out, and they performed that.

"Dog Eat Dog" seemed to confuse more people than it entertained. "Itís All About The Pentiums," "Amish Paradise," and "Couch Potato" were definite fan favorites. It was really fun to see everyone waving his or her arms for "Amish Paradise" in such a big place. And the crowd went crazy for "Couch Potato."

Al sang straight through "Smells Like Nirvana." In Philadelphia and a few earlier shows, he would stop singing at an appropriate part of the song. Due to the high energy everyone had on stage, I guess he felt it better to keep the momentum going. This was the most energetic Iíve seen Steve Jay on stage in a long time.

There were video cameras set up to broadcast the show on a big screen over the stage. I tried to watch once in a while, but most of the time the lights were too dark to show up well on the screen. All the video clips were shown on the big screen, so people in the front few rows couldnít see them.

After "Fat" Al and the band were treated to a standing ovation. The ovation remained throughout the rest of the show including "The Saga Begins" and "Yoda." The whole place was standing and dancing and singing along by that point. Some people even crowded the aisles down by the stage for the encore. I was happy that Al thanked all of New Jersey, because all of New Jersey was there and having a great time.

After the show, I gathered my stuff and we met up with Adrian and Anne and Shannon and Mike. It was Adrian's birthday so we all wished him a super happy birthday. I had an extra pass so I gave it to Shannon. We tried to sneak Mike in, but security would have none of that, so he went to wait out front for us. We were herded into a tent set up behind and to the side of the stage.

After waiting for what seemed like forever, Skip let us know Al would be delayed a bit because he was fulfilling a young girlís Make A Wish dream. Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz came out about the same time and was immediately surrounded by people from the record company. Jim West came out for a brief second, but couldnít stay because he had to leave with Ak & Zuie to make it to a show in Asbury Park.

After a while I made my way over to Jon because I wanted him to see that I had stuff for him. He talked with the record label people for about 10 minutes then chatted with us. He thanked me for bringing the sign and showed us an article about him in the September 2003 issue of Modern Drummer. He posed for some pictures with Brittany and me and everyone else in our little group.

At some point while we were talking to Jon, Al came out and was seated behind a table. A line had formed at the table and by the time Jon left, the line was almost finishing so we hopped onto the end. When Al saw me, he playfully shouted, "You! Again!" I showed him the letter of agreement, reminded him why we needed it, and asked if he would sign it, which he promptly did. That was my main goal for the evening, and I was finally relieved to have Alís agreement on paper. That meant the star campaign could go full speed ahead!

Al posed for some photographs with everyone in the group, and we left to find poor Mike, who by now was waiting alone in front of the venue. Luckily there was no traffic on the way home, and it was nice to be able get home at a reasonable hour.

More Pictures!!!
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