U.S. Tour '99
June 20, 1999
We saw the GK last night at The Woodlands. It was fantastic, as always. We got an extra encore--Volare. They followed the play list you all had printed. The crowd was full house, about 13,000. Carl Lewis was on stage playing the "shaker" (gourd like thing) for the last half of Bombaleo.
We enjoy reading about the GK and feeling on the "inside" of the tour.
Wow, it seems like I've been beaten in getting my Houston review in, but here it goes.
First of all, I was so thankful it didn't rain on us. 3 hours before, the weather channel showed a clear picture of the US map except for a big green blob in the middle of Texas, heading east. I was sure we were going to get poured on, but God must know how good this music is.
We were in the middle of the last non-grass row, and I think the sound was inferior to either Concord or Berkeley. I think it took the technicians a couple of tries before they brought the microphone levels up (you could hardly hear Andre or Patchai when they did their first couple of songs). With the same lineup they've had all throughout the concert, they did:
The biggest surprises, of course, were Carl Lewis on stage for Bamboleo and they doing Volare after taking bows one time. I guess they must have really loved the crowd. It was really cool because after Majioui I just expected a typical ending and was actually kind of bummed the concert was ending... The bad thing is that, for Volare, Tonino didn't play, and I think it was very obvious. Oh, Patchai's son also was on stage towards the last songs.
I was really, uh, make that REALLY, pleased with their instrumental song selection. Ritmo Apasionado and Salsa de Noche were already favorites of mine, but the performance for both at the concert was much better. They just filled the air and the rythm was so natural. It makes you understand why they named the Compas like that.
You are not going to believe this, but not only were the Kings in The Woodlands at their absolute best, so was the crowd. The place was almost as lively as Austin; and the sound system that night was just perfect. The crowd was enthused and the Kings were quite enthused; quite. In fact, they were so appreciative of the night, they did two encores, with "Volare" at the end. Austin was still the far more 'personal' event from this side of the stage, but with the cool night and no distractions of competing sporting events (note to readers: in San Antonio the big Spurs game was going on--someone even had it on her little TV at the Kings' concert!) and so forth, The Woodlands was quite the scene.
Here is the part you really will not believe, but it is true: Gladden, or at least her friend, came through after all! They never did really try to make arrangements for a pass for me. Yet, that night they met one of the Kings' underling stage managers who said I would be allowed backstage after they told him what I fan I was. Gladden would have to accompany me to the back part of the stage and I would have to wait until the VIPs were allowed in, but the arrangement was made. Lo and behold, the two found me at my seat before the evening started, as they recalled where I was sitting, and informed me of as much. Lo and behold, further, Gladden ended her working shift, the Kings did Bamboleo, and off she and I were to the back of the stage. We had to wait for the Kings to do their two encores which we watched from the gate, but when it was over, the main Kings' stage manager met me and allowed me entrance, even before some of the VIPs.
Some ten minutes later, out came the youngest of the Kings, the kid who is mostly in the back, down the few steps to the hall/pit we were in. I did not talk to him. He disappeared into the small gathering. Then Georges, son of Nicholas, the 'new, official' King, came out, but not down the steps. He waved and walked away. But then Andre was there, the coolest of the Kings (or so I always thought, despite the glasses!). The people there did not even seem to know Andre was a King, but when he appeared on the steps and began his very congenial entrance to the scene down the steps, I alone applauded and shouted: "Andre! Bravo! Bravissimo!" He seemed to appreciate the fact that someone knew his name. He started milling about, but almost no one was saying anything at length to him, so I approached him. I shook his hand and said in French: "Monseiur: Je suis honoree. Est possible que je puisse avoir une signature?" (Sir: I am honored. Is it possible that I might have an autograph?) He said: "Oui." So I gave him my (then borrowed ballpoint) and a dollar bill, the only paper I had, for which I apologized, and he signed it. I shook his hand again and just then Paul (the oldest) appeared just above over a railing. He seemed quite tired and not into the social scene, but I said much the same to him, reached up and shook is hand, and received his autograph also. Then he disappeared.
Time was the problem, of course. I was not sitting near Melanie and Charlotte, and as Gladden never got back to me in those intervening weeks, I had no idea I might get backstage. When Gladden told me I might, I tried to find the others on the lawn to inform them of as much, suggesting I might be late in our meeting at the car. Anyway, I felt the desire to stay, of course, but the duty to leave quite soon as I knew the others were waiting. I saw Tonino at the top of the stairs, but he gave no impression that he would be meeting the masses at all. I saw no other Kings, so I returned to talk to Andre again, since I always liked his manner most anyway, and almost no one was saying a word to him. He was being kind, but silent, just sort of moving in small circles, as if here were a Chinese diplomat who spoke little of the language. So, I approached him again and I shook his hand again, this time with a prolonged handshake, as it was obvious I was leaving. I thanked him again, and informed him, this time all in Spanish, that I had seen the Kings in Austin and San Antonio and Houston that week. He continued the handshake, but was a bit speechless, and somewhat nodded humbly. I wanted to say more, of course, about playing them on my own Takamine and so forth, but as I continued to shake his hand I heartily grabbed his arm also, and continued the thought saying I had seen them so often because, (now in English) "You are the greatest......the greatest." At that point he shook my hand that much harder and grabbed my arm also and said, quite sincerely: "Thank you. Thank you very much." We gave each other a pat on the shoulder and I was on my way.
It was a kick.
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