Saturday, May 26, 2007

A night with Anita Baker

I’m part of a couple Vegas show tickets clubs: House Seats Las Vegas and Vegas Seat Fillers. It’s a great way to get comp tickets to Vegas shows. The only thing is you have to be spontaneous and willing to jump on last-minute opportunities.

As a former performing arts producer, I understand the value in having a full house. That’s just what these seat filler organizations have capitalized on. They make arrangements with the individual producers to get free tickets to help fill the house. Besides, there’s plenty of mark-up in Vegas show ticket prices to more than accommodate for a few comp seats.

So, yesterday we had the opportunity to get tickets to see Anita Baker at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. I seized the chance early yesterday morning, as soon as I received the notice they were available. Anita Baker is one of my favorite vocalists.

I informed Vickey and my folks that we were going to a concert and to make arrangements for the kiddies. I figured it was a terrific opportunity and would be a good memory for my parents' visit. And boy was it!

First off, thanks to Ellen for being willing to bring her girls over and hang at our crib while we were out partying.

I went to the Hard Rock about an hour early to pick-up the tickets and secure good seats in the general admission seating area. I managed to get seats at the back of the first section at the Joint, about 30 feet from the stage. Vickey and my folks joined me in time for the comedian opening act. He was okay.

Once Anita Baker took the stage, around 9:30 p.m., the show was off and running. This is a low-resolution image captured by my mobile phone.

She was a bundle of energy. I’m not certain if I’ve been that impressed with a singer at a live concert. She was really spot on, on everything. I’ve been to a dozen or so concerts and for the singing, I think I can say Anita Baker was the best.

My critical mentions?

First to The Joint, for cable tying small folding chairs together for the seating and making the space between rows so small. My 34” waist could barely be comfortable on the seat’s surface area. There was a guy on the row in front of us that took up two chairs, easy. And the people next to him just had to suck it up and be squashed.

Second, to the production of Anita’s show. She was calling off instructions to the lighting and sound engineers pretty much throughout the show. It didn’t bother me as far as the songs go, again because she was just about vocally perfect. But without the stage direction the show would have been better.

Also, she was in command of the musicians, waving her arms and signaling the end of songs, transitions and the like. She let on that this was pretty much her first gig with the band, that she had pulled musicians together from Vegas and other parts of the country to play the concert. But that was even more impressive to me.

Musically, her show last night was a solid 10.

She was terrific in her interaction with the audience, dedicating songs, answering call-outs and even singing happy birthday complete with back-up vocalists who joined in on cue.

The evening, although much later than I’m accustomed to, turned out to be a highlight. It was a wonderful 100 minute concert. We all left very impressed with Ms. Baker. And my parents left with a better knowledge of Anita Baker and her music. They recognized a few of her songs as she sang them last night, they just didn’t know beforehand who Anita Baker was. Vickey helped them yesterday afternoon by playing part of the Rapture album for them.

Anita Baker admitted to the audience that at 49 she felt too old to be singing and dancing around. She also admitted that she loved her job and thinks it’s the best one in the world. One couldn’t help but agree that she loves music and it loves her right back. She was stellar.


Betty said...

Wow, I am so glad you went to see my favorite singer. Art and I saw her at the MGM and the arena did not do her justice. While waiting for my mom while she had heart surgery, it had taken an extra long time. I had just put down my book when the TV became apparent to me. Anita Baker began to sing my most favorite of songs and the door to the room opened. Tears came to my eyes. I knew the nurse was for me and my mom was gone. It took a number of years before I could listen to her songs again. By the way, the nurse took me to a closet made to be an office to meet with the doctor. He sat at a desk that filled the room, and behind him on the wall was a picture of one giant white iris. When my dad died three years earlier, a white iris bloomed in a garden where I had not planted any irises. Anita Baker has been and will always be my favorite.

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