This road trip would be my first multi-city trip that I didn't drive to from home. After a long period of testing various itineraries I decided to fly into Phoenix and do a circle trip to El Paso, Albuquerque, and Tucson, with a return home from Phoenix. The flights and car rental worked out the best, even though it was a rather circuitous route. I also planned on doing a little sightseeing along the way. The trip out was uneventful except for my Chicago departure to Phoenix. After push-off from the gate and while heading for the taxiway I noticed a large amount of fire equipment all over the airport. After waiting for about 10 minutes I saw an airplane with the Presidential Seal on the tail taxi past us. After that, all of the fire equipment went back to their stations. Perhaps Michelle was visiting Chicago?
I arrived in Phoenix shortly after 9pm and headed for Tucson for the night. I drove the rest of the way to El Paso Saturday morning and met Rick at the hotel. After a quick bite we met up with additional forum members and headed downtown. All together there were about a dozen of us; I'll let Scott give a roll call in his review because I'll probably miss someone. After dinner we hung out in the hotel bar across from the venue until the doors opened. It's amazing how many stories people have about their CW adventures.
The Plaza Theater, like most venues on the fall tour, is a beautifully restored old theater. It is done in (obviously) a Southwestern theme, with lots of Mexican and American Indian themed carvings and paintings. Most of the ceilings are painted with lovely borders and designs. The ceiling of the main theater is painted to look like a night sky with small pinpoint lights that represent stars. The effect, when the house lights are down, is quite breathtaking. There are plants along the upper walls which silhouette against the sky and add to the beauty. There are also functioning organ pipes hidden in alcoves on either side of stage.
We had almost the entire front row of the orchestra pit and with the stage being quite low (one of the lowest I've seen) the view was awesome. Not only was the stage below eye level, but almost the entire platform was at or below eye level. While the stage was not huge, it wasn't the smallest I've seen either. Máiréad had plenty of room to move and she used it all. The show started after the usual recorded announcement and the girls quickly recognized virtually everyone in the front row. We got plenty of interaction from them all throughout the show. Like in the Spring, the girls start getting a little juiced as the tour draws to a close and they were showing it tonight. Máiréad did 10 spins during Cost of Galicia,
although she could have squeezed in an eleventh one if she really wanted to. The “sit on the piano bench” bit is apparently now a standard part of At the Ceili;
it got a big laugh from those who hadn't seen it before. Another new move came during The Contradiction
. Part way through, after Ray and Nicky have switched sides, Máiréad tossed her head and hit Nicky in the face with her hair. It was hilarious and she was laughing as much as we were!
Tonight was, of course, LynnFest and Chris and Gabby (the original twinnies) provided everyone with signs to display during the show. Lynn did see them and I think was a little taken aback by the attention. I believe she prefers not to be in the limelight too much, but she deserves the recognition just as much as the other girls.
Some other miscellaneous items: Lisa has changed her hair again. It is now curled and the bangs are gone. It is very fetching and looks good on her. Chloë was her usually bubbly self and made lots of eye contact with us. Her speech prior to O, America
was once again very heartfelt and was frequently interrupted by applause. Alex's power was on high and she nailed both of her solos. Despite the signs, Lynn flirted with the guys during Dulaman
more than Meav did. On the perennial complaint list: The venues still can't seem to get the lighting right and each performer was in the dark at least once.
Highlights for me were, of course, all of Máiréad's solos, especially Last Rose Fantasia.
I want that on DVD so
bad. Chloë gave me chills during Nella Fantasia
and Lisa's The Voice
brought us all to our feet. O, America
hit me especially hard tonight and part way through, while I had tears running down my cheeks, Máiréad looked at me for several seconds and gave me that knowing smile that told me that she understood what that song means to all of us.
The Meet & Greet was with Alex and Máiréad and both were positively delightful. I mentioned the new hair toss move to Máiréad and she said, “Yeah, I really got him didn't I!” The M&G was not rushed like Columbus and we chatted about some other things, none of which I remember. Every time I think I can hold a normal conversation with her, unaffected by her charm and beauty, I go right back into Zombie mode and blank out. One of these days I'll get it. I have another chance in Albuquerque tomorrow.
Hey, I actually got this posted before the next show; I think I may have even beaten Scott this time. Now that's a rare event!
By the way, I should add that I sat next to the twins, "Columbo junior" and "Scott junior", and my ears survived, although it was touch and go for little while!
Just kidding, girls!