Did'ja ever have tickets that were supposed to be
waiting for you at will-call, but when you got there, the people
just kinda looked at you funny, like "Yea, right. You have
tickets waiting." Well, that is how my first experience at the
Rosemont Theater started, and it didn't get much better, well, all
except for Jo Dee Messina, Toby Keith, and Joe Diffie - they were
cool. But, back to the start of the trip.
Keith & Jo Dee Messina
A Concert Review
There I was,
trying to impress Trash, and I look like a stooge with no tickets. (Trash
here - I'm still trying to determine which of the three stooges The
Dude on the Right is!) Luckily for us (or maybe unluckily in
some retrospect), a nice man came up with a couple of tickets for
us, and we were able to see the shows. Why unluckily? Well, this is
The Rosemont Theater is a nice place - too nice for a country
show. We're running a little late so Trash and I didn't get a chance
to eat. We figured we could grab some eats, maybe a hot dog or slice
of pizza at the venue. Trash, too, had a rough day and was looking
for a little alcohol. She just wanted to kick back with a beer or
two and enjoy the shows. Low and behold, we arrive. Finally with
tickets in hand we get in, we find that the food choice consists of
tiny bags of potato chips, and movie theater type food, i.e.
Raisenettes, Goobers, etc. So much for dinner. Alright, on the
starvation diet-plan, beer is liquid food. Well, it seems the
Rosemont Theater won't let you to your seats with food or drink.
Nope, you're stuck in the lobby chugging beers between acts and
munching on food for squirrels. There I was, a bigger stooge - Trash
didn't get food and couldn't get drunk. What a fun date I was,
she'll probably never go out with me again. I'm sure her boyfriend
will be happy about that! (Trash here again, about this Rosemont
place - One thing I found truly amazing about this yuppie paradise
theater was all the hard liquor available. They had a better
top-shelf bar than most I have seen, and I've seen a lot of them.
One big clue…no real food + a lot of alcohol = major drunk fools.
It sounds like a fraternity party!)
Enough about that, we were there to see shows, and the theater
didn't get any better.
The theater has a huge stage, so huge in fact that with the band
set so far back, it's almost like seeing a band play in a cave. It
didn't sound like a cave, the acoustics were great, but with the
microphones set up about 20 feet back from the front row, all of the
artists had a hard time connecting with the crowd. (Trash here -
There was a band? Too bad you couldn't see them either from the
altitude height or the banners hanging down blocking your view. I
felt like I was watching TV, and it seemed to annoy the performers
also). First to try was newcomer Jo Dee Messina.
Ms. Messina has a purty voice, and right now, one hit - the
"Heads Carolina, Tails California" song, so it's good for
her to go out and get some more exposure - which she did.
Highlighting some songs from her new album, I was really digging the
"We're Not in Kansas Anymore" and a cool up-beat song that
kinda reminded me of the old 70's classic "On the Cover of the
Rolling Stone." But, just as she was starting to get the crowd
up and going, she hit the crowd with "Even God Must Get the
Blues." Now, this is a good song, but it's a crowd-killer in
terms of attitude. My helpful suggestion is to leave this song out
of rotation until you get a little bigger in your shows. It just
blew my already kinda pissed-off mood into a total tailspin, and I
didn't get back into it until she "Flipped a Quarter" with
her hit. (Trash: Yep, we both agree it is a pretty song, but I
still wanted to go home and poke my eyes out with tooth-picks. We
can only handle so much depression in one evening, and I couldn't
even stew in my beer 'cuz they won't let me bring one to my seat.)
As for Jo Dee, she did her best to work a crowd that seemed miles
away from the band on that stage. She didn't do too bad, and I
believe I'll give the newcomer ONE THUMB UP! Her confidence
is growing, and she had a voice that should take her far. I look
forward to more from her in the future - I just wish I could have
seen what she looked like better from the nose-bleed seats we were
Next up was the Toby Keith man. The last time I saw Toby was
opening up for Reba almost a year ago,
unfortunately, that show was better than this time around. And you
know, I think it wasn't Toby's fault. Again, Toby was a victim of a
stage set-up that was not conducive to entertaining a crowd. His
band, who is a lot of fun, was set back in the stage, and since he
normally hangs around the microphone, playing guitar and singing,
unless that mike is at the front of the stage, he can't
"touch" the crowd. His song list hit from all of his old
albums, as well as touching on his new material from his latest
album. There was the "Big Ol' Truck," "Upstairs,
Downtown," and "He Ain't Worth Missin'" to try to
entertain the crowd, but from so far back, he couldn't connect, and
the crowd seemed so dead that it was almost sad. (Trash here - I
like "Upstairs, Downtown," it's a good song, but (he has a
nice one by the way!) do we need to remind people in the crowd their
life sucks - and I can't even bring in my beer to cry in it.)
Finally, he kicked into "Should've Been a Cowboy," and
it hit him, ditch the band and move the mike stand to the front of
the stage - which he did, and the crowd came to life like it should
have been all along. The sing-alongs came in on "Cowboy"
and "Ain't Much Fun Since I Quit Drinkin'," and Toby began
to work the crowd even more by losing the guitar.
With the encore of "Blue Moon" from his latest album, I
really realized what a powerful voice this almost a football player
has. He is usually a good entertainer, but it took a little long to
get the crowd going. It's ONE THUMB UP for the Toby-man.
Good, but I know he can do better. (I'll rate him too. I really
had a blast when I last saw him in concert. In fact, it was that
show that made me like him. Unfortunately, he played the
"theater!" That says it all. A theater is a place you go
to see a musical with men in cute costumes - not to see a cowboy!
Toby gets a DOUBLE MARGARITA TOAST for trying and for being
great in the past. Sincerely, Trash.)
And then came who I was waiting for - Joe Diffie. I've always
liked Mr. Diffie, and know the show he is capable of putting on, and
he picked up quickly that he was set way too far back for the crowd
to enjoy the show. Right away with "Third Rock From the
Sun," he bounced to the front of the stage leaving his band (a
quite talented band I might add) far behind. He's always had fun
songs, songs like "I'm In Love With a Capital U,"
"Good Brown Gravy," and "Devil Danced in Empty
Pockets," but it's his ballads that show off his talent and his
voice. Yep, "Ships That Don't Come In" was great,
showed me once again that this man can sing! I guess I really don't
know what to say about Joe Diffie's show, other than he jumped from
the get-go to the front of the stage to work the crowd. He's a fun
performer, and does his best in any situation. And, the crowd
responds - very well I might add. He took a potentially disasterous
situation at the Rosemont Theater, that being the stage set-up, and
worked it to the best he could. The crowd had fun, the band had fun,
and Joe Diffie had fun. It's TWO THUMBS UP for the
"Pick-Up Man." (Trash here - it's my turn. Now, I have
never seen Joe Diffie, and I was really looking forward to this.
Unfortunately for him, he played at the "theater." He
tried his hardest to bring me into the show, but from where I was
sitting, we were all busy trying to get some oxygen. The air is
thinner than on a mountain top! If we let ourselves get too excited,
we might have lost consiousness or spilled a beer - oops, we don't
have any. It was humorous to hear Joe tell us to have fun and spill
beer. Guess he didn't know how things worked there. Joe gets A
MARGARITA TOAST. He's a good singer, and I hope next time I see
him is better).
Oh yea, I almost forgot about Bill Engvall. He's a comedian, and
kinda played emcee for the entire night. Where Jeff Foxworthy has
his rednecks, Bill Engvall has his stupid people. His act was a
laugh-riot, and a welcome addition to waiting between acts. His
comments about making love, pets, and stupid people are sure to make
anyone laugh, and he has a CD coming out soon, which as long as it
is close to his live act, I will recommend without even hearing it.
He's funny, and I give Bill Engvall TWO THUMBS UP!
Oh well, that wraps it up again. If you are ever in Chicago
seeing a show at the Rosemont Theater, be sure you eat before you
get there, do your beer-chug practicing before you arrive, and hope
the dude or dudette you're going to see is one of the better
performers, or at least sets up at the front of the stage, because
it's going to be a lot of work for them to make you have a good
That's it for this one! I'm The Dude on the Right!!