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Concert Reviews:
Joe Diffie:
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Joe Diffie
with Toby Keith & Jo Dee Messina

A Concert Review

May 4, 1996

The Rosemont Theatre

Rosemont, IL

A Review and Photos by
The Dude on the Right
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.

There I was,Joe Diffie Photo 1 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 why.

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 in.

Next up was the Toby Keith man. The last time I saw Toby was opening up for Reba almost a year ago, Toby Keith Photo 1and 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, Joe Diffie Photo 2and 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 time.

That's it for this one!  I'm The Dude on the Right!!  L8R!!!


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