Radio City Music Hall, August 27
I was psyched: my first GK live show, I had my sign for handing out coupons I'd made of GK web sites (#2 on the list: you guessed it!), and my Manitas de Plata Flaming Flamenco album I've had for almost 30 years which I was going to try to get everyone to sign.
The show was supposed to start at 8; my brother (a GK neophyte) and I got there about 7:30. I checked with the manager about handing out coupons and he said "No solicitation allowed." I showed him one, that no one was making any money, that the people who had the web sites didn't even know I was doing this, but no go. He sympathized with me and said he didn't make the rules, but he couldn't let me do it. The only people who could advertise were corporate sponsors, namely Mercedes Benz, who had some model or other in the lobby I didn't even bother to look at. Not having several million $$ at hand, and not wishing to be thrown out, I thought it best not to try :-o
So slight disappointment #1 :-(
But there were other things to look at, like the signed Takamine guitar that had been used for the sound check (no wonder: it was horribly out of tune!) and which the band had donated for a silent auction with proceeds for some children's charity!!! All the names were there: Nicolas, Tonino, Andres, Pablo with a flower he'd drawn underneath his name, Canut, and Patchai, who had written "Amitier Patchi des Gipsy Kings" with some flowers drawn underneath his inscription. Nobody had bid on it yet (bidding started at $500, with $200 increments), and I am very proud to report that I was the first!!! :-))))) I can also report that mine was not the high bid (a doctor bought it for $1700!) :-)))))))
Radio City has 6000 seats: a huge orchestra area and 3 mezzanines at the back of the theater. I was in the last row of the VIP section off the orchestra, 20 rows back from the orchestra pit, in the center (Forgot binoculars. Nuts!). About 200 people were seated in the pit, which was at the level of the front orchestra seats. These had to have been by invitation only. My impression is that about 95% of the orchestra was filled, but I couldn't see any of the mezzanines except for the first few rows. A lot of people dressed up (men in suits - could be coming from work? - and women in dresses, but here and there people in jeans and shirts).
Show started about 8:30. Playlist and impressions follow.
During the intermission, I talked with the lighting man about the sound level and he said that a lot of other people had the same comment. Since he was wearing a headset I asked him to contact the soundman. Either he didn't, or the sound guy didn't care, which I tend to believe.
So that was my first Gipsy Kings concert. What a shame it was less than perfect because of one person. We waited until the theater was practically empty before we tried to leave, then went over to talk to the sound guy. Then we thought better of it (he couldn't have cared less anyway), but noticed on one of his cases that someone had put a piece of 1" adhesive tape and written "Helen Keller Audio" on it! He probably felt honored!
I got my album signed by everyone except Georges (but it took two nights!), met some interesting people, Canut's blond was glued to him when he left the theater Friday night but not Thursday, and for Fernando, Efren, and Bob, in answer to my question of when he was going to record a solo album, Maestro said "Despues."
Did anyone happen to notice what I didn't say about the show? That's right! NO PBs!!! No women dancing on stage during any part of the show, in fact you couldn't get to the stage from the theater. Thursday night people moved down to occupy seats closer to the stage, and there was dancing in the aisles. Not so on Friday, when the ushers would not let people occupy the aisles and kept them from moving up.
I'd asked one of the people guarding the signed guitar where the stage door was and she told me. So after the show we went over there. There were 2 vans about 6 feet apart, and metal barriers all around. Lots of security personnel. I walked up to the guy "guarding" the space between the vans, pulled out my album, and told him about Manitas being Tonino's uncle and Jose being everyone elses father and that I wanted to get everyone to sign it. He looked at me with raised eyebrow like "Are you kidding me?" but then decided I was legit and said he'd help me, but I had to wait across the street. So we were waiting there a few minutes, and the guy who'd bought the guitar arrived, with his wife holding a really cool poster that was part of the deal, which they wanted to get signed. Also noticed a couple of about-17yo boys, but no-one else. Above the stage door a window was open, lights on, people milling around, apparently this is where people who had backstage passes went. After a few more minutes, I look up and I see the back of, could it be? Yes! It's Tonino! Then he turns around and looks out the window. I called out to him and held up the album (it's got a picture of Manitas on the front), he recognized it and made a motion with his hand like he would sign it. Then he left and Paul and Andre came to the window with Paul leaning out. I held the album up for him, he pointed at it like he recognized it also, but he may have also been pointing at the guy with guitar, who was holding it up. Well, the guy with the guitar ended up going upstairs, and I gave the album to his wife who said she'd get it signed by the band. (Yes, I got it back!) About this time the gypsy who'd been in the front of the theater showed up. He was wearing black jeans, black jacket with colorful patches, and a huge black cap with loads of silver jewelry pinned on it. Paul seemed to recognize him and may have invited him up (don't recall exactly). So after a few minutes everyone comes downstairs and the band starts coming out. The lady with my album was standing by the stage door so I was keeping an eye on her. But in a little bit I looked around, and here was somebody standing by the van's passenger door wearing a white shirt and a black pony-tail! AND, Canut is talking to a BLOND woman wearing a dress who reaches up and kisses him after a few minutes and then leaves. Now, I will tell you here that I saw Canut leaving the stage door Friday with a(nother?) blond glued to his side, and I think she's the one others have seen him with. If I got a picture of them, it was from their back. After she left, these two kids started talking with him. By now I'd got the album back, it had several signatures, Patchai was approaching and I asked him to sign it which he did. Canut had gotten in the van, I could see Tonino in one seat slumped against the side of the van, and I tried to get closer to get them to sign, but the security guy said "GET AWAY!" So I was standing there feeling disappointed and this gypsy guy came up and I showed him the album. HE recognized Manitas and started telling me about the relationships and I said "I know, I've had this for about 30 years and I'm trying to get it signed." So he yells into the open van, in gitano/spanish, that I've had this for 30 years (treinta an~os) and then Canut raps on the window to pass it in! So he and Tonino and Mickael signed! And with that I thought I had everybody's signature so we left. But there was more to come, like another night where hopefully the sound would be better. I was not disappointed, and you can read about it Man~ana.