We awoke at 9:00 am and made coffee in the room while we took showers. We wanted to make sure we had enough rest so that we wouldn't feel sleepy at the concert. We headed downstairs and were wondering what to do for breakfast. I had my heart set on biscuits and gravy, and we were going to go in search of them. It turned out that the hotel served a breakfast buffet with eggs and French toast to order. We looked on the buffet, and there were my biscuits and gravy. So we sat down to eat. We enjoyed the buffet, and Craig ordered a ham and cheese omelette while I ordered French toast. It was a very nice filling breakfast that should hold us over on the drive to Columbus.
We hit the road at 11:11, with Frank's Wild Years playing on the CD player. At 1:30, we arrived at Joe and Jan's house in a Columbus suburb. It was a very cute house in a residential neighborhood which had a park and a soccer field behind it. We talked to Gary and Vicki on the phone, but they wouldn't be in town for hours yet. Joe and Jan were very welcoming. They showed us to our room, which had been decorated for their niece and nephew who often stay with them. The beds had Scooby Doo sheets and there were color-coordinated paw prints painted on the walls. It was very cute. We went downstairs and hung out with Joe and Jan and their cats. We had been wondering whether we should head into Columbus and check out the ComFest, but we were so comfortable and were enjoying their company so much that we decided to just relax at their house for the afternoon. Their son and infant grandson came over, and we all had a great time chatting.
We left their house at around 4:45 to head into Columbus. Gary and Vicki had still not arrived, and we were starting to get a bit worried, as show time was approaching. The Raindogs would be meeting at the Tip Top for drinks prior to the show. We were hoping to find someone who wanted our extra tickets there. We weren't the type who usually had extra tickets for things, and we would feel a whole lot better once we had sold them. We were looking for face value and nothing more. Driving into town, we were caught in a huge thunderstorm. The rain was absolutely torrential. It was a good thing we hadn't tried to spend some time outdoors at the ComFest.
We arrived in Columbus and paid a whopping $3 to park (just a little different from Boston!) and then set out to find the Tip Top. Luckily, it had stopped raining by now. We knew we had found the right place when we heard “Tango Til They’re Sore” coming from outdoor speakers. We went inside and wandered to the back section where there were some booths. Weimmediately met the MatchMan, who had some very nice wares for this tour, custom designed Glitter and Doom matchbooks which he gave away to fellow fans (Thanks again!) The juke box in the back corner kept serving up selections from "Raindogs" and we had a drink. Craig drank a Thirsty Dog, and I had a vodka and cranberry. We met Pi, who was in need of a ticket. We were happy to have an extra to share with him. We soon ran into Ken(adian), Tim (not from Iowa), and Jerry, and made some new friends including Skip and some others whose names escape me right now. It's always fun to hang out with these folks. We wondered if we should eat dinner, but neither of us was especially hungry (did I mention that we had biscuits and gravy for breakfast?) and we thought we should get over to the venue in case someone needed our one remaining ticket. At 6:45, we walked over with Pi, having a nice chat. This was his first Tom Waits concert, and he was very excited. His niece is also a Tom fan, and he texted her to let her know where he would be going tonight. She responded with envious mock disapproval. As we walked toward the Ohio Theatre, everything was glistening as the late afternoon sun appeared to dry the rain.
There was a large crowd outside the theater, and we saw Tom's name on the marquee. We heard our names and turned to see Gary and Vicki driving by in search of a parking garage. We were glad that they had made it in time for the show. We were able to say hello to Stuart (Tom's tour manager) as we wandered around. Everybody seemed to already have tickets; apparently the box office had released some just minutes before. We were pretty much resigned to the fact that we wouldn't be able to sell the ticket when we saw a young woman holding a fluorescent pink poster board sign which said, "I'll do the Cemetery Polka for a ticket...just need 1 PLEASE!" We waved them over and we told them that we had an extra ticket. The woman's name was Jeanine, and she was thrilled because she and her husband and friends had driven from Philly with no tickets. Everyone else had been able to get one but her, and she was resigned to sitting in a bar crying into her beer while the concert went on. She was ready to pay any price, and was thrilled and amazed when we said we only wanted face value. And the ticket wasn't even too far away from where her husband and friend were sitting. Everyone was quite happy with the resulting transaction, and we were all very excited for the show.
We all went inside together and I immediately headed to the merchandise table. Tom waits never sells merchandise, so this was a treat for all of the fans. Subsequently, it was a mob scene, but well worth the wait. There were three different designs of tee shirts (each with an oil stain design on the front, reproduced from photos which Tom had taken himself), each available in 3 colors: white, asphalt, and black. They were quite reasonably priced at $20, and there was an adorable interview “chapbook” for $10. After buying a few items, we went to our seats, which were the third row of the orchestra (6th row total, because there were 3 rows in the orchestra pit), just off center. The stage was a delightful tease of what was to come, decorated with bullhorns and old-fashioned loudspeakers of all shapes, sizes, and colors.
We went to our seats, and soon saw Gary and Vicki in the next section over. The show started just after 8:30 and the crowd went nuts as Tom hit the stage. It was amazing how different this show was from the ’04 and ’06 tours. Having a woodwind player seems to provide Tom with the flexibility to do some extremely different arrangements, and we loved every minute of it. Tom stomped his boots, kicking up dust and kicking floor-mounted wood blocks and a pedal-operated school bell on "Lucinda" and "16 Shells". He was bathed in red light for a sax-heavy jazzy "Down in the Hole". He channeled the old-school soul singers in "Falling Down", and did some great comedic dancing for "Cemetery Polka". "Cold Cold Ground" was amazing, with an Unplugged-style arrangement. It was a definite highlight. I finally got to see "November", which has eluded me for 10 shows over the years. Wow! Well worth the wait!
"Black Market Baby" was a nice surprise, and it was fun to see Sullivan Waits [Tom's youngest son. Eldest son Casey Waits was on drums] adding percussion on "Hoist That Rag" and clarinet on other songs. He really seemed to be enjoying himself. The megaphone was used for a testifying "Chocolate Jesus" where Tom posed, postured, and tipped his hat, and a very fun arrangement of "Big in Japan".
Tom’s jokes during the piano set were quite amusing, and one of the funniest moments of the night was when a woman yelled something to Tom and he said “I knew as soon as I stopped talking, you would start!” She followed it up with something else, but Tom used his hand as a puppet and said “bababababa” over her. "Lucky Day" was more subdued than usual, and it was a nice interpretation. It was followed by an "Innocent When You Dream" sing-along and a melancholy "Lost in the Harbor".
Tom then left the piano and kicked into a rocking "Lie to Me" where he kept repeating the mantra “I have no use for the truth” which was punctuated by the percussion. He got the crowd chanting “Everybody row!” to "Misery’s the River of the World". "Dirt in the Ground" was amazing. During "Make It Rain", he summonsed a shower of gold confetti which rained down on him from above. He introduced the band, and woodwind player Vincent Henry hurried Sullivan back onstage. But Tom didn’t introduce him, which caused Vincent and Sullivan to start cracking up. The two of them seem to have a real bond, and Vincent was repeatedly encouraging him throughout the show,
Encores were a soulful "Jesus Gonna Be Here", "Eyeball Kid" with Tom wearing his mirrored hat making for some very cool effects, and the always moving "House Where Nobody Lives".
We were quite surprised and delighted by a second encore: Tom singing "Time" with an acoustic guitar. "Time" has never been a song that particularly grabbed me until now (I know! I know! All my Raindog friends think this is a travesty. What can I say?) It was amazing and literally brought tears to my eyes. It was the perfect ending for the show.
This is the only show we are able to attend on this tour, and we couldn’t have asked for anything more. An absolutely perfect night. Thanks once again, Tom.
After the concert, Gary and Vicki (who were parked closer to the venue) drove us back to our parking lot. It was a little difficult to figure out how to get out of town and onto the highway, and we ended up needing to loop around a couple of times. We passed a church which had a spotlight fixed on a small statue of Jesus, projecting his image larger than life on teh side of the building. We thought that Tom would approve.
Since we had had neither lunch nor dinner, we were suddenly starving. A week or so before the trip, we had seen a tv show about the history of fast food. It said that White Castle was the first fast food hamburger restaurant in the USA. It's a chain we don't have in Massachusetts, but we had seen several since we arrived in Ohio. We decided to try one out. We ordered a pack of 10 "sliders" (White Castle mini hamburgers), 2 fries, and an order of "chicken rings" because they sounded so intriguing. Why rings? We scarfed it all down with the zeal of a high school midnight trip to Denny's. The burgers had cheese, a single pickle slice, and were steamed in onions. Yum!
After gorging ourselves on fast food, we drove back to Joe and Jan's house, arriving at 12:45. Joe and Jan were in the living room chatting with Gary and Vicki. We all hung out until 2:00. I wrote in the journal until 2:25, and then went to sleep.
Craig with the Matchman
Steph and Ken(adian)
Pi and Craig
Jeanine will do the Cemetery Polka for a ticket