Redwood City, California
Wednesday, June 25, 2003
Fickled Finger Faults Fogelberg A chronicle of events
Dan Fogelberg and Band for the second year in a row played, the once Vaudeville then movie house now concert venue, Fox Theater in downtown Redwood City. A two day heat wave in the San Francisco Bay area made the venue stifling hot!. Dan commented on the heat and it reminded him of last year's show, which was equally as hot. Dan ever the eagle -eye on sailing conditions noted the S.F. Bay was smooth as a mirror.
In attendance was a small audience of less than 500. Most were fans of Dan and sat quietly savoring each song as Dan performed: "Part Of The Plan", "Heart Hotels", "Crow", "Hard To Say", "Full Circle", "Reach Haven Postcard", "Run For the Roses", "The Reach".
Band and audience were in a comfortable groove. Dan sat down with guitar for the solo section of the performance. I suggest, at this time, we all entered the Twilight Zone or better yet, Ripley's Believe It or Not.
Events then spiraled into the bizarre, but started with a few innocent finger picking mistakes on "Lazy Susan". Followed by a nuisance fingernail and sound trouble interrupted Dan singing "Make Love Stay". With emery board in hand to file down the faulty fingernail Dan used the down time to converse with the audience. One fan yelled, "Are you single"? Dan replied, "No; happily married, Finally"! He asked "Are you single?" "You should get together with other singles . . . you know . . . San Francisco.
The next fan commanded, "Play Part of the Plan." Dan responded with a laugh "Where were you?" (Song opened the show) "You must have been a late arrival?"
Wait!, not bizarre enough. More follows: The conversation with the fan about her request for "Part Of The Plan" lead to a story from the road, not Dan's road story but a Neil Young's road story. Neil Young, as Dan elucidates, was performing his new material in 1975 from Tonight's the Night album. This album followed the hugely successful albums: "After The Gold Rush" and "Harvest". Neil Young's show set was to perform "Tonight's The Night" album in its entirety, which begin and ends with "Tonight's The Night". The crowd became increasingly hostile through the show wanting the hit songs from "After The Gold Rush" and "Harvest". Neil leaves the stage. He asks his manager what he should do? His manager nonchalantly says play something they know (he probably meant play some of the hits). Neil returns and plays "Tonight's The Night" for a third time. Ha. Ha. Friendly laughter.
Not done yet! Dan's part of the story begins. It continues . . . With the story done and the fingernail repaired Dan plays "Leader of the Band". Off to the piano for 'Same Old Lang Syne'. The bittersweet prelude solo on piano leads into "Same Old Lang Syne". In fine voice Dan sings the verses that will lead to an unexpected twist to "Same Old Lang Syne". He sings: " Took our groceries to the check out stand the food was totaled up and bagged . . . again Took our groceries to the check out stand the food was totaled up and bagged . . .
His voice trails off as the piano notes ring alone off the ornate scrolled walls, when he sheepishly states "I forgot the song . . . I can't do this" "sooner or later these things happen, so I'll bring the band out".
The Band cranked up the electricity to the amps and ripped through performances of "Missing You", "Crow" and "Power of Gold". Fans dancing, running, singing along. Wild applause.
The encore brought all of us full circle as the Band hailed the anthem and took Neil Young's managers advice 'to play something they know' and performed an excellent reprise of "Part Of The Plan".
Afterwards, the Band and about 400 of the fans went for coffee and a laugh. Not many of us got to order coffee. The line was too long. All true, except for going out for coffee.
I rate the show a 4 out 6 strings guitar. If you're a fan and recorded the performance I would rate it a 6 out of 6 guitar strings because of the rarities of the events.
Part of the Plan
Hard To Say
Reach Haven Postcard
Run For the Roses
Make Love Stay
Leader of the Band
Same Old Lang Syne
As The Raven Flies
Power of Gold
Part Of the Plan
Review And Set List By John Trapani
A (little bit bizarre) Evening With Dan Fogelberg 6/25/03 Redwood City, CA
When dates for Dan's tour started dribbling out, no dates dribbled out for the San Francisco Bay Area, and I thought maybe the only chance I would have would be if my wife and I decided to go to Tahoe for our anniversary weekend, where Dan was going to play South Shore. Konocti Harbor was another possibility, but more difficult. And then, when the final schedule got release, in late March or early April as I recall, there was a concert listed on June 25 at the Fox Theatre in Redwood City, located roughly halfway between San Francisco and San Jose, where Dan played last year. I went to their website to find ticket information. I found nothing about the concert. I couldn't find anything anywhere on the web about this concert.
The Fox Theatre in Redwood City is a real mom and pop operation. The box office at the theater is only open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays 12-6, and I could never remember to call when they were open. The recording when they were closed had no information about Dan. I would forget to call when the box office was open, and I would occasionally check back on the website and find... nothing. Finally, on May 12, I found reference to the concert on the website. Since the box office was closed, I went ahead and ordered on-line, even though I couldn't find out what seats I had. The on-line ordering just pays for your tickets, and the seats get assigned by the box office employees the next time they come in. And they won't mail out tickets, you have to pick them up at the box office, which you can do the night of the concert. When I made my order, I asked for two tickets, one for me, one for my wife. When the order confirmation came back, they had gotten me one ticket. Great. I couldn't call the box office, because they weren't open. I got too busy the next day, so I had to wait until Thursday. On Thursday, they actually called me first to confirm my order, and I told them they had it wrong. They said they would fix it, although it would put me two rows further back (yeah, who cares about two rows?), and they would charge my credit card the money for the extra ticket.
Well, I never got around to picking up the ticket, but when my credit card bill a month later (and barely over a week before the concert), it didn't have the additional charge on it. So, I talked to my wife about this, and then she realized that she had a crucial meeting she really couldn't miss that night, which we had forgotten all about when first deciding to go to the concert. After forgetting to do it on the first two days the box office was open after getting the bill, I finally called them four days before the concert, and yes, they had a note that I needed another ticket, but nobody had ever done anything about it. Well, that made life easy, we decided that fate meant I was to go to the concert alone, and my wife would go to her meeting. Simple. My mom was already set for babysitting, the good news is that she would only have to be on for as long as my wife's meeting, and not from 6:30 to 11:30.
One unfortunate thing about the mom and pop operation that is the Fox Theatre Redwood City is that unless some outside organization is putting on the concert (like last year when Montalvo Winery was putting it on), they do a horrible job of ticket promotion and sales and advertisement for concerts. As indicated, they didn't even put the concert on the website until almost mid-May, and tickets weren't available until then, the box office is only open Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday 12-6, and tickets could only be bought through the box office, either in person or by phone or fax orders, or through their own website software, where someone sees the internet order when they come in to work when the box office is open, so you don't actually know where you will sit until you get your tickets, and if you ask for two tickets, it might only give you one, and so on. If someone else is handling advertising and ticket sales, things are OK, but not when the Fox Theatre itself is doing it.
The advantage of this is that when I got to the concert, I got a ticket in the second row without trying. Note that from the front row, you can touch the stage, the second row is almost on top of the front row, and the band played right at the front of the stage. So I was extremely close to Dan. I was actually a little closer to Jim Photoglo, right in front of him, but still, very, very close. Close enough to get a very good look at his sandals, that I know sunnyday would not like, a good look at his wedding ring and his watch, etc. The disadvantage of this is that the crowd was very small. I'm going to guess no more than 400 people in the 1400 seat theatre. And that might be an overestimate. Now, unlike all the other Dan concerts I've been to, these were mostly enthusiastic Dan fans. But still, not many.
It was hot again like last year -- it was hot at my house when I left, and the radio at 6:50 said it was 97 in Redwood City. Ouch.
The opening act was a woman singer and her husband playing the guitar. Sort of slow jazzy stuff, that musically was pretty much the same from song to song. You had to actually listen to her lyrics to appreciate her, and she had some interesting lyrics. The best was her last song about her infatuation with TV detectives. It was quite humorous. But as with all good opening acts, she was relatively brief, starting right on time at 7:30, and ending before 8:00. When she finished, she asked if her time was up or if she had two more minutes. Nope, time up.
And then, it was time for songs from "Full Circle" to come over the speakers, starting with "Whispers in the Wind" and running through to the last track on the CD, "Earth Anthem." And as soon as "Earth Anthem" was done, at 8:23 p.m., we got the announcement.
And the first sign came that the evening would be a little different. No "Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Dan Fogelberg." Rather, some other generic introduction, like "The Fox Theatre is please to welcome recording artist Dan Fogelberg." Something like that. It was just wrong. I had never heard him introduced any way but the traditional way. Strange. But, OK, I can deal with it.
Dan was wearing light tan pants with cargo pockets, a shirt with vertical stripes (from the back at least they probably hid some of that small paunch he's got), and sandals. They came right out and opened with "Part of the Plan." The good news, Dan was in great voice. The sound system was good (although being so close, it was weird, because I was so close that I could hear Dan's actual voice as well as hearing him over the speaker!). The band was in good form, although whenever there were any minor problems, I could tell from the look of concern on Robert McEntee's face.
Second, Dan went to the piano for "Heart Hotels." Done just fine.
Then, Dan finally talked to us. He mentioned that it was hot like last year. He talked about how he had never seen San Francisco Bay so flat as it was earlier in the day. In response to some comment about his wife, he said something about his wife being in a much better mood this year. He told us he would do a song from "The Innocent Age." He played "Hard to Say."
Then he said that last year, he celebrated thirty years of playing music. This year, he is celebrating 31. He said he would do a song he wrote in 1975. He said wrote it when he was 10. It was, of course, "Crow."
Then, it was time to mention the new album. When he mentioned he had a new album, the crowd applauded. He said he liked it, that he was proud of it, and that he had listened to it A LOT. He said it was designed for those who liked his sound in the 70's and early 80's, it was a return to that sound. He introduced the song written by Gene Clark of "The Byrds," "Full Circle." It was very well done.
Then he said that not every song from "Full Circle" was so perky, and he was about to prove it. He said that the next song was written about a house he used to live in in Maine, that the song really perfectly captured the living room of that house. The house was called Reach Haven. He said, "The house no longer exists. But I still exist." And he played "Reach Haven Postcard" quite well.
Then, off to the piano for "Run for the Roses."
Then, back to his guitar. The guy next to me yelled out, "The River, Dan!" and Dan said, "We don't know no Rivers" and looked over at Robert McEntee and shrugged, and said, "Do we?" He said the next song was about the same place from two songs ago. He realized at some point that he was doing two songs in the same set with the word "Reach" in them. He mentioned that the stretch of water in Maine where the house was is called the Reach. And he said that it still exists. "The Reach" was quite well done, but as was the case last year, I thought that the keyboard/synthesizer that Robert McEntee was turned down way too low, so I couldn't hear all those notes that I like to hear near the end of the song very well.
Then it was time for Dan to take a minute to get his chair out and play a little solo acoustic. He sat down and started to play, and obviously was not happy with the sound. He kept looking off stage, shaking his head. Finally, he stopped, and said something more (it meant nothing to me, so I couldn't understand it, even though I was closer to him than the stage hand). Some adjustment must have been made, because he played a little, and then he was satisfied. He went on to play "Make Love Stay."
When it was done, he asked the stage hand if he had an emery board. The stage hand brought out an emery board. Dan started working on his nail and said, "OK, what do you guys want to talk about." The crowd was surprisingly quiet at this offer at first. The small size of the crowd did enable it to have more of a living room feel, and I think Dan felt that way. It was a very enthusiastic crowd, and generally respectful of him, mostly fans of Dan, except for a very few locals who will go see just about anyone because the theater is so close. Maybe not a full house, but much better than playing to a casino crowd, or even to a bunch of people who only want the hits. Dan mentioned how hot it was, and did point out that he at least had a fan on the stage to keep him cool. And finally, someone yelled "Tell us about the black eye you had last year." Dan had played last year at Redwood City with a black eye. So he launched into a long bit about how he hit himself in the face with the guitar in Las Vegas. The stage guy looked at it and said it would be OK. So he goes on and plays The Reach, and blood starts gushing down his face, and they have those big video screens in Vegas so everyone could see it close up. Dan said he was fortunate because he was in Vegas where they have fight doctors, so they could just put Vaseline on his eye cut and send him out for the next round. Dan then complained that people always take his picture and post it on the Internet "and I HATE THAT," but the one time he would have wanted his picture posted, when he was being heroic and playing with blood streaming down his face, no one took his picture and posted it on the net. Darn.
Then someone yelled out, "Are you single," and Dan said, thankfully, no, finally he is happily married. He asked her back, "Are you?" And the woman who had asked the question wasn't paying attention, and Dan made a remark about being ignored by her, and she finally perked up and said, "What?" So he and the crowd repeated the question. She said that unfortunately, there were several of them who were. He said, well, then, why don't you get together. This is San Francisco after all. Then he said "I have to repair a nail, so that's why I'm bull*****ing with you." A woman yelled out, "I'm a nurse," and he said, "I don't need a nurse, I need a manicurist." Then people started yelling out song titles. The guy next to me yelled out, "Looking for a Lady, Dan!" And Dan said, "No, not any more, thank God!" Then someone, I think the same woman who asked if he were single, asked for "Part of the Plan." Of course, Dan led off the concert with "Part of the Plan."
So this inspired a story about when Irving, his manager, got sent by David Geffen to a Neil Young and Crazy Horse Concert. They started the concert with "Tonight's the Night," and pretty much played everything off the "Tonight's the Night" album, and ended (pre-encore) with "Tonight's the Night." The crowd was somewhat hostile, having only heard the songs off that one album and not the stuff they knew, and backstage, Neil asked Irving what he thought he should do. Irving said, "Go back out and play something they know." So he went out and played "Tonight's the Night" for a third time. "True story" says Dan.
As a result of the lengthy banter, I suspect Dan decided to skip "Nature of the Game," because it was on Jim Photoglo's set list right after "Make Love Stay," so it was due next, but he did not play it. Instead, he went into "Lazy Susan."
Then for the last scheduled song of the solo acoustic set, it was time to go to the piano for "Same Old Lang Syne." But partway through the song, after already having sung the lyrics about taking the groceries to the checkout stand and the food being totaled up and bagged, he sang those lyrics again. I thought, "wait, didn't he already sing those lyrics?" and Dan got a very puzzled, disturbed look on his face, and he tried to continue, but he was lost. He stopped. He said he didn't think he had ever forgotten the lyrics to that song before. He said maybe he should do "Part of the Plan" instead. He got up like he was going to get his guitar for "Part of the Plan," sat back down, sang the title words to Neil Young's "Tonight's the Night," in his best Neil Young voice (Dan can't do Neil all that well, but he did only do three words), and he tried to play more "Same Old Lang Syne" so he could finish it, decided he couldn't recover the lyrics, so he gave up and called the band back out. The audience was more than willing to help Dan with the lyrics, but it was too late. After introducing the band, he said, "I did write these songs, you know," in his effort to sort of be funny about his giving up on the song.
So then it was time for the rocking set, "Missing You," (which is toward the bottom of my favorite Dan songs, but I really enjoyed the rocking stage version) "As the Raven Flies," and the 12 minute version of "Power of Gold." The whole band was rocking really well, and seemed like they were going to go on forever with the song. Then they finished, and the band left the stage as Dan said, "See you next time." Robert McEntee pointed his mom out to one of the other band members as the left. The kind of close up details I have just never had before.
Jim Photoglo's set list said that "Gambler" was the encore. However, Gambler is a slow, mellow song, and Dan had the place pretty well rocking with the 12 minute "Power of Gold," so what do you think they played for an encore? Yeah, you got it. "Part of the Plan." As Dan said after they had launched into it, "You asked for it." He then looked over to the woman who had requested it and winked with a sly grin on his face. First time I ever saw Dan actually play a request. Of course, it was a song that was on his set list, but still, it is fair to say, he played a request. How very odd. And part way through, Dan broke a guitar string, so he played the rest of the way with a guitar string flapping around pretty badly, but he was able to continue anyway. At 10:08 p.m., they finished, walked off the stage, the lights went up, and Robert McEntee looked at his mother and shrugged his shoulders.
It was generally a good concert, Dan was in very good voice I thought. But it felt sort of bizarre. But I hate to have the same experience every time I go to a concert, so I'm glad that, although a bit bizarre, it was a different experience. And it was bizarre in a funny way. It was nice to see Dan interact with the audience for such a long period of time. He didn't interact much more after his failure with "Same Old Lang Syne," and I think felt like he was somewhat embarrassed by it, and didn't know how to deal with it.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I would say that Dan's voice was a 9.5. The band was a 9, and Dan's playing was a 9.5. And in terms of the outside intangibles, I would say it was a 10, with all the odd goings on that kept things very interesting.
After the concert was over, I took a look on stage at the set list, and saw where the changes had been made - Nature of the Game left out, and Part of the Plan instead of Gambler for the encore.
On the way to the car, a woman in her late 50's or so was saying she was sorry he didn't finish that song, because she likes that song, and it is about the only song he did that she knows.
On the drive home, there was more strangeness, as I tuned to check on the baseball game and got the post-game show. The Giants got beat 6-0 by the Dodgers in what the announcers said was a boring game, since it was pretty well over by the bottom of the third. At the end of the Giants' post-game radio show, the announcers from both TV and radio get together and to the "post-game [w]rap," which is pretty free form, and they talk about whatever they want to, usually from the game, and the only real form to it is that they usually each make some pick for a player of the game. But this night, after the game, there was a slumber party on the field for people who paid $300 a piece, and they were showing baseball movies on the screen. So, since the game was so boring, they talked about baseball movies, and instead of picking a player of the game, they picked a baseball movie. One announcer picked "Fear Strikes Out," which was the Jimmy Piersall story, especially going over the season when he had a mental breakdown. The announcer said it was the worst baseball movie ever. This inspired Jon Miller, the Giants' announcer who is also the lead baseball announcer for ESPN, to launch into a story about how when he was announcing for the Texas Rangers (probably in the late 1970's), Harry Carray and Jimmy Piersall were the announcers for the Chicago White Sox. They had been doing something strange, and Jon, inspired by Dan Akroyd and Steve Martin, whose "Two Wild and Crazy Guys" bit was popular on Saturday Night Live at the time, said that Harry and Jimmy were "two wild and crazy guys." The next day, Jon heard that Jimmy was looking for him and saying he was going to take his head off. So Jon found Jimmy, and Jimmy said he heard Jon had called him crazy, and I guess being a guy who had actually had a mental breakdown, Jimmy didn't like being called crazy, and Jimmy was going to throttle him. So Jon started to explain, but Jimmy didn't really want explanations, but Harry Carray played peacemaker. Jon Miller does great impressions, so he did his best Harry Carray impression as he's telling the story of Harry playing mediator and telling Jimmy to listen to what he has to say. So Jon tells him about Dan Akroyd and Steve Martin and how because they are so fun lovin', they describe themselves as "two wild and crazy guys," not to say that they are crazy, but fun lovin', and he was just taking it from their comedy bit to compliment Jimmy and Harry and say that they are two fun lovin' guys. So Harry says it sounds reasonable to him, and Jimmy decides it is OK not to take Jon's head off. This all in the middle of a post-game [w]rap that took about 3 or 4 times as long as usual because they just kept going on about all sorts of baseball movies, good and bad (they discussed "Bull Durham," "The Natural," "Field of Dreams," "It Happens Every Spring," "The Babe Ruth Story," "Cobb," and a few others too). And during most of it, I was stuck in traffic because the San Mateo bridge had two out of three lanes closed for some bridge work, and it took me about 25 minutes to go a mile and a half. I'm just glad I've never had to have any bridge work.
I think there was something in the air in the Bay Area that night that made unusual things happen, which is why we got long banter with Dan, why he botched "Same Old Lang Syne," and why he played "Part of the Plan" instead of "Gambler" for the encore. All in all, a memorable night, a good concert, and a fun time.
Part of the Plan
Hard to Say
Reach Haven Postcard
Run for the Roses
Make Love Stay
[Nature of the Game omitted from concert]
Same Old Lang Syne [quit halfway through]
As the Raven Flies
Power of Gold
[Gambler omitted from concert]
Part of the Plan - Reprise [not on original set list]