Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Tracy Chapman Concert #2- The Fillmore in San Francisco

After a pretty good breakfast at the Best Western, and much needed coffee at Starbucks, my wife and I head for the City by the Bay for concert number two planned for Sunday night. The first stop was the San Francisco Zoo, a location that we both hadn't been to since elementary school.

Neither of us were terribly impressed by the zoo, which is unfortunately because we were really looking forward to it. The problem wasn't the animals. Those that were out seemed content and the active exhibits were well done. The problem was that about a quarter of the exhibits weren't running, some looking like they had been unkept for a long while. It was as if the zoo spent time focusing on certain areas of the park, while leaving others to run down. It sort of spoiled the zoo visit.

San Francisco was in the middle of Fleet Week when we arrived on Sunday afternoon. This created an interesting vibe in the city. Pulling up to our hotel in Japantown, we were greeted by the Blue Angel's F-18 Hornets, in all their screaming glory. Some people find the sound of fighter jets scary, or even annoying. I find it liberating and awesome. Something about the roar of the jets makes me safe and proud. We stayed at the Radisson Miyako Hotel, about 3 blocks from the Fillmore. I found that when I called them on the phone, I got a better rate than using the Internet. The room was on a private floor and was nice, with a huge bathroom containing a whirlpool tub. Hey, after the Mill Valley Experience, I've learned my lesson. I'm spending the extra cash for an upgrade. The days of Motel 6 are over.
Dinner was sushi (Japantown, duh) that was reasonably priced and actually quite good. After a coffee run, it was off to the Fillmore to catch the glorious Tracy Chapman.
The Fillmore is rock history, and the venue is ran very well. This was my second concert there and the staff is friendly, yet direct. The sound is clear and vibrant, the lighting is excellent and enhances the bands. The crowd at the concert was in a much better mood, rather polite and very into nice conversation. The problem was actually getting into the damn building.
Doors to the sell out were to open at 7:00 p.m. At 7:30, we were still outside, getting a little ansy. A member of the Fillmore staff came around and said that Tracy was still doing sound checks. Fine and dandy, except that my wife and I were a little tired, and we were really looking forward to the early start and ending times. Finally, at 20 minutes to eight in the evening, the line started it's entrance. Ben Taylor started only 15 minutes late (8:15) and once again did a nice job. He only did 5 songs (including the great "Boyfriend"), but he manages to really connect with the crowd and is an excellent set up for Tracy.
On this night, Tracy Chapman, wearing the black blouse and blue jeans, came out at 10 minutes after nine. With Tracy was Joe Gore (guitarist) and Quinn (drums). The Asian bass player was absent.

Tracy was the same energetic person that she expressed in her music the night before. I know, you might think that it was my wife and I that were tired. That might be true, but the signs of mistakes were evident many times (Quinn and Tracy would often start over each other, it seemed like the Quinn and Joe started a different song than Tracy at one time), and Tracy's energy level seemed much lower. She seemed either content or tired. I don't want to seem like I'm bashing on the concert, because I would still pay for a concert of this caliber a million times, but the difference needs to be noted. Here's the setlist, more or less:

-Why? (Strong, simple beginning yet again)
-Baby, Can I Hold You Tonight (Softer tonight. More tenderness)
-Change (This song was done well. It's growing on me.)
-Fast Car (Seemed unsure about the song. Not really into it)
-America (Started way off. Quinn jumped it. Seemed to distract most of the song)
-House of the Rising Sun (Mellower showing than last night)
-The Promise (Did a very nice job on this one.)
-Knockin on Heaven's Door (Duet with Ben Taylor. Nice work with good crowd participation)
-Telling Stories (Not bad. She seemed a little stoic)
-Be And Be Not Afraid (Interesting song. It got better as it went on)
-Talkin About a Revolution (Crowd pleaser, but she didn't seem really into it)
-Say Hallejuah (Energy seemed much less than last night)
-Another Sun (Someone started wrong, but the song worked up. Still, not as much energy until Joe Gore gave a bellowing yell to get people hyped up)
-Give Me One Reason (Blues version, then rock version. Blues version was great, the rock version was forced and rushed. She dropped an entire stanza in the rock version and seemed ready to be done.)

ENCORE

-Come As You Are from Nirvana (Totally out of left field. She can do the lines of the song, but the chorus sounded like a mess. Didn't really work)
-I am Yours (Nice mellow ending, although most of the people were still stuck on the Nirvana song)

So the concert was not as good as the one on Saturday, but I'd still go back for more. Joe Gore was a treat to watch as he once again seemed to totally live within the music. On our way back to the hotel, we stopped outside of the Boom Boom Room to listen to the jazz tunes making it out to the street. Note to self, hit up the Boom Boom Room. It sounds like the perfect time.

So that was the Tracy Groupie Weekend. We had a very nice time, and reminded ourselves that Tracy Chapman sings like a goddess, even when she has an off night.

If you are a Tracy Chapman fan, go hit up About Tracy Chapman, a website that is the most comprehensive around in all things Tracy. Aurelie maintains the site on a regular basis, with everything from concert reviews, to up-to-the-minute news. Link it, bookmark it, visit it.
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