The Forum Whitaker Center
Wednesday, June 11, 2003
Thanks to Bob Wireback For The photo!
I just returned home after a night away to see Dan in Harrisburg (I live in Philadelphia about 2.5 hours away). I wasnít going to write a review as I had already posted one for the Keswick show. But the experience last night was so powerful that I feel compelled to tell about it.
Powerful indeed! That is the word to describe Dan in Harrisburg. I believe a lot of it had to do with the venue. Dan had never played in Harrisburg, nor had I ever been to The Forum, which is part of the world class Whitaker Center cultural complex in our stateís capitol.
Without a doubt, this house is the most beautiful place I have ever seen Dan. It is a Romanesque building with lots of marble and bronze staghorn door handles. The walls were painted with scrolls depicting the centuries and the history and achievements of humankind. Most dramatic was a blue and silver ceiling containing all the astronomical constellations. One could have spent days in the place just reading, deciphering and studying all that was depicted on the surfaces of its interior. It was spectacular. I can understand why Dan and Jean had their picture taken there and posted on the website. It is certainly a place I will never forget.
I think all this splendor dazzled Dan and created the powerful effect his performance had on everyone present. I overheard 2 men behind me discussing all aspects of Danís life. One of them follows him around the country to see him in many different states. Others were curious about his recent marriage. It was wonderful to be surrounded by fans as devoted as I am to his music. The crowd was also obviously delighted in the fact that at long last Dan was here and they could claim him as their own. The evening had that kind of feel to it, and Dan basked in that adulation. He was also teasing the hell out of us with his extra long introductions to songs.
Iím not going to review again all the songs. I will only say that Dan performed with a freshness, power and inspiration that I havenít seen in him in many years. The voice resonated from a place deep within that shone forth (And how we applaud and encourage when he does this!). His guitar playing is incredible and the sheer depth and breadth of his work is superlative. As I watched, I felt a renewed sense that this manís music is indeed a blessing. It was warming to be among so many kindred spirits who really ďgetĒ the vision Dan tries to communicate as an artist.
One treat for me was his performance of Nature of the Game. This was only the second time I have heard him perform that song. His voice was deep, gravelly and forebodingónot my favorite, but he definitely creates a mood with it.
Notably, less than half way through this yearís tour, Dan changed the order of things. He began this time with the band and waited until the middle of the show for the acoustic set. There were lots of standing ovations and applause after his incredible guitar riffs. Harrisburg will never be the same again.
I left the theater full of his music and the glow has stayed with me all these hours. I hope all your shows will be as grand. Happy Danning!
Wednesday, June 11th - Dan in Harrisburg
Sometimes I wonder (and my family and friends ALWAYS wonder), how I could go to so many Dan shows year after year, traveling hours in cars or planes. I always say - it's friendships, it's live and anything can happen. Maybe it is because we all lead such structured lives and it is just fun to jump off the merry go round and just let life happen for a day or two. Sue came in from Michigan and we began our journey across the PA turnpike. With a full backpack of Dan CDs, we opened the moonroof and sang outloud - probably much to the amusement of the adjacent truckers. We met Sue's friend for dinner, escaped the rain and headed over to the Forum a very cool piece of their science center complex. I returned to see Tim who sells all of the collectables this year who remembered me from Fraze and added two new items to my collection. As I walked inside, my heart began to race as I realized that for the first time in over 20 concerts in 7 states, I was going to be front row center - right in front of Dan. I thought I might just jump out of my skin! I actually wanted to run up on the stage and yell - YES!!!! Sue was right behind me which facilitated us duly noting every additional or modified note enhancement or voice inflection. We were treated to an enjoyable couple called Naked Blue from Baltimore who were the opening act. They are a husband/wife team who write and perform with a couple of acoustic guitars. They were very good.
Then the guitars started to come out along with the three microphones and then I realized that Dan mixed it up a bit. Fortunately, he was starting with an acoustic band set. This made for a much stronger opening to the show. They all sounded so much better tonight than last week right from the start. What a difference a week made. Last week Dan wanted to secure North Face as a sponsor, and tonight he asked for a fan. Dry guitars and warm hands made for a great opening set. The set list has been posted and didn't vary that much. I found Michael Hanna to be especially strong on the keyboard tonight and Robert enjoying great jamming on the guitar. Michael Botts and Jim Photoglo also seemed to be a little more into the show and both played well. The interactions between Dan and the band were also more evident over last week's show. Not the extreme smiles and obvious fun of last year, but Robert and Dan came together on stage to jam more together. The Crow and The Reach were the highlights of the first set. Then Dan came out and rewarded the VERY appreciate audience with his hits. You could hear a pin drop on every note. I loved the Nature of the Game. I hope Dan includes this on a CD someday. It would be a shame to lose this song to only those who have gotten to hear it live. At one point, Dan made a comment about playing a song from the 70's and the audience cheered. He joked about it and said he hoped we loved the 70's that much when we got there. Dan finished up with Lang Syne with a delightful piano introduction. It surprised me that he didn't promote his new CD with Half Moon Bay which would have demonstrated his often forgotten ability to take a piano to new heights.
Anyway, then the band came back out and my favorite part of the show was about to begin. Perhaps this is because I've had so many opportunities to hear Dan acoustically in the last several years. But whoa - that electric set... well they opened with a rocking version of Missing You. But the next song was the pinnacle for me - As the Raven Flies. It was long, the jamming of Dan was intense, Robert excelled and it was probably the most I've ever enjoyed a live Dan song in years. All I could say was WOW! Power of Gold followed and I thought to myself, I hope Dan plays that electric for as long as he can, because he is so good at it. An encore of Gambler followed with a little extra intro. When it was all done, I was reminded of just why I go to so many shows - it's live, it's fun and anything can happen. I got Dan's set list as a souvenir and gathered up my newly acquired mug and t-shirt and couldn't wipe the smile from my face. I turned around to Sue, gave her a hug of mutual understanding and just savored the moment. I thanked God for my ears to hear the music, my eyes that I could watch it all take place, and for hearts that can share these experiences with friends. After the show, Robert graciously came outside the bus where a few of us were standing and thanked us for coming. Thanks for that Robert - we appreciated it. Sue and I returned to hotel, relived the show, and I was serenaded to sleep by Sue playing The Gambler on guitar. We even sang it with our favorite inflections. She started my next day with Nexus and we just enjoyed our whole trip back.
As I look forward to Durango, I have a few items for the wish list. I wish Dan would add a few more songs from Full Circle - especially Once in Love. I hope Dan loves playing in his back yard and doesn't want to stop that night. I hope he has fun playing with the band and finds that this tour renews his belief in his talent and a recognition that his work is still appreciated by so many folks all over the country. I hope that it is a beautiful dry night with stars in the sky. I wish for the safety of all those who travel there and back. Maybe he'll even close with our traveling prayer - Along the Road.
Until Colorado, blessings to you all...
Cindy from Pittsburgh