Wilkes-Barre 2003

F.M. Kirby Center
Wilkes-Barre, PA
August 30, 2003

It was a fairly long ride to Wilkes-Barre. Although I had been there before, I hadn't thought about how long of a drive it was because the last time I was there, I had stayed in a hotel across from the venue. But when I checked for directions earlier in the week, that's when I realized it was farther than I had remembered. Luckily, the ride didn't seem as long as it actually was though because I was in a car full of entertaining people with entertaining stories. Brittany, Jackie, and Allison were my passengers and I was the driver.

Before you knew it, we were there, riding over a purple highway (seriously!), and a really winding and hilly road, that reminded me of the winding and hilly road on the way to Kelseyville, to get there. As we drove around town, careful not to be cruising, we saw Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz walking with Tara Lyn, and Adrian walking with Anne. We parked right behind the venue and went to get some pizza at what appeared to be the only open restaurant in the entire town.

Once inside the venue I bought a anime Al t-shirt and attempted to buy a Close Personal Friend Of Al sweatshirt, which was on sale for an incredibly cheap $10.00. The woman at first refused to sell me the sweatshirt because she said they were sold out. I asked her if I could have to one on display and she said she didn't know if she could sell that, but she would ask, and if I came back after the opening comedian she would let me know. So after the opening comedian, I went back to the merchandise stand and she sold me the sweatshirt.

I ran into Insane Ian again at the show. We both weren't expecting to see each other there and had the same surprised look when we saw each other. It was nice to see him again. He was hoping to have Al pose for a picture with the tribute CD. It turned out Ian never got to see Al after the show, but he had a good time.

I ran into Serge at the merchandise booth as well. So Serge came back with me to the seats and we took some pictures and I introduced him to Allison and Jackie, who he wanted to meet. Serge was hoping to have his guitar signed by the band. He had Al's already and he did end up getting everyone else in the band to sign that night.

Our seats were off to Jim's side of the stage more than a few rows back, but were actually pretty decent. It was probably just the right distance from the stage to be able to take in the whole stage and still feel close enough to the stage that we weren't too far back.

When the show started, for a moment, I thought I was seeing triple. It turned out that there were three video screens on stage, right next to each other which made for some interesting sights when the video clips were playing behind Al singing.

Almost immediately, Al ran into a little trouble. He totally blanked on the Taurus verse of "Your Horoscope For Today," and just took a step back from the microphone, mouthed some words, looked around at the band, and picked up again on the refrain.

During "A Complicated Song" I began to wonder if Al was sick. It was in the last verse where he started to sound phlegmmy, almost like he needed a drink of water, or to cough something up. People in the audience started to feel bad for him as well, but as for voice problems, except for a few high notes in the medley that gave him trouble, I didn't notice any others.

Al said that they had reached the request portion of the show. A few people started yelling out a few songs, but Al walked over to Jim West and asked him what he'd like to hear. And Jim said, "How about 'One More Minute?' and that's what they played. Al did come out into the audience, and this time, instead of giving away his usual boxer shorts, he pulled white briefs out and gave them away instead.

"Wanna B Ur Lovr" was probably the highlight of the evening. Shortly after the song started, Al left the stage again. As we walked down the aisle he started singing different lines in the song to different women in the audience. At one point, he jumped up onto an empty seat and kneeling on it, started to sing to someone. Then he climbed over a few more seats into what was probably an empty row and just laid down across a few seats and kept singing. This went on for a while, then he got up, and walked back towards the stage.

"Smells Like Nirvana" got a good audience reaction as Al this time intentionally forgot the lyrics to a verse. The audience really liked that, given what had happened earlier in the show.

The biggest reaction to a video clip came during the Eminem interview. Quite a few people liked the fact that Al made Eminem look like a hypocrite, and made him look like he was trying to pick up Al. "Couch Potato" was great as well. It's starting to become my favorite song to see performed live, ahead of "Smells Like Nirvana." I do hope that the lack of a video and resulting slow album sales doesn't make Al feel that the song wasn't a hit. I hope to see this song on many tours to come.

There was a glitch with the video clips that introduce "Fat." The video never came on, so the audience had to sit in the dark for the entire video break. Al came out in his fat suit a little earlier than usual to make up for it.

I started to feel a little sad during "The Saga Begins" and "Yoda" because I realized that would be the last time I'd be seeing the band and the show until next year at the earliest. And despite Al being sick, he really held the "he" during the "he's a ghost" line for an incredibly long time.

After the show, we waited around for Al, but immediately someone came out and said Al was really sick and on the bus already resting, and he wouldn't even be meeting his special guests that evening. I was a little sad that I wouldn't get to say goodbye, but given the circumstances, I would rather him rest. I know how much energy a show takes out of him if he's healthy, I can't imagine what it must be like for him if he's not feeling great.

I did get to see Jon and talk to him for a bit. He's in pretty good spririts considering that he's still got partial paralysis in his face. He was gracious and did mention that it is getting better and while he had taken the second show of the previous night off, he was now able to sing when needed. He's looking forward to going to Australia and it sounds like he has a few days available to do some sight seeing while there.

We met back up with Jackie, Adrian, and Anne, and I let them know Al was sick and wouldn't be coming out, and Jon wouldn't be either. So they decided not to hang around to see if Jim, Steve Jay, or Rubén Valtierra would be coming out, and we said our goodbyes and headed home.

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