November 19, 2021
The Grand Opera House and Alison’s Birthday Party!
Check out the TOUR page for all venue and ticket information for upcoming dates.
The drive from last night's show to this night's performance in Wilmington, Deleware was only about five and a half hours, so the bus stayed later in Virginia last night than I had initially thought it was going to. However, that did not bother me, for my trusty earplugs helped me make it through.
Tonight our show is at The Grand Opera House in Wilmington, Deleware, and to my recollection, I do not believe we have ever performed here before. It really is strange how all of the days and venues run together after a while.
I will have to say that The Grand Opera House lives up to its name. It is a magnificently beautiful theater both inside and out. You know, touring is a big bag of mixed nuts in so many ways. One nut, in particular, is that you can perform in a tiny, sweaty rock and roll club one night and a majestic, beautiful, and awe-inspiring theater the next. When I was young, I assumed that when you 'make it big,' whatever that looks like, and there are a lot of different ways you can 'make it big' in the music industry and still not have a lot of money, that once you played large venues that performing in small venues again would be a large letdown. Looking back through my career, I discovered early on that it is all about the music and the audience. The size of the venue is irrelevant. I will be honest with you. I am kind of embarrassed to admit that. You would think for someone who loves music as much as I do that I 'would have just known.' But, oh well, there it is.
We could all tell that tonight's performance was to be special, but the one thing we did miss almost immediately was the beautiful weather we had in Virginia Beach. It was dreadfully cold all day here, so there would be no walking around, which was disappointing. But on the other hand, this made it possible for me to spend a lot of time in the theater, which I always enjoy. Also, the dressing rooms were numerous and spacious, and they fed us exceptionally well. On top of that, there was a lovely piano in Alison's dressing room. (I know, it should have been in mine) :-).
Tonight's show went very well, and our audience was very receptive. I never get tired of my seat behind the piano, looking out over the people into the beauty of majestic theaters like The Grand Opera House, and though my knees hurt much more leaving the stage after the encore than they did at the entrance, it is still worth the pain. But my dears, the pain and the night was just beginning. Big fun and more was yet to come....Check out the photos below from the gig and then keep reading. We are not finished in Wilmington, Delaware just yet.
Let me tell you a little about Alison Ward. Alison Ward is a show stopping, lead singing rock star with enough positive physical and mental energy to light the entire planet. I have often told her that I want to come back as her in my next life, and I am not kidding. She is also gorgeous, hilarious, kind, gracious, caring, and incredibly talented. The Queen of Fun. The Life of The Party. Alison Ward IS the party, as designed by nature, and she is very contagious.
Several years ago, one year before I joined the band, it was Alison's Birthday while ABBA MANIA was on tour, and the band threw her a party on the bus. The photos from that party are iconic, and it is always one I wish I had attended. Well, as luck would have it, her birthday came around this year while we were out on the road, and we secretly planned a surprise Birthday party for her after the show on the bus tonight. I have to give enormous props to my ABBA MANIA wife, Hana Freeman. Hana basically coordinated the entire party and decorated the whole bus on her own. She also searched out and purchased all of the birthday goodies. Hana, by the way, is just like Alison, and we all love the hell out of her. (More on Hana as time goes by)
The party was a huge hit, and Alison was completely surprised. Hana provided us with our party hats and glasses to create our new party personality. Alison had a badass disco playlist which we played loudly while consuming pizza, birthday cake, water, wine, beer, and bourbon, not necessarily in that order. The party went well into the night, and everyone had a blast, but unfortunately, I had to call it a night early.
Previously that afternoon, I had hit my right foot extremely hard on the back door in the bus, and it hurt like hell. Thankfully, there was no one on the bus at the time, so I could scream and curse loudly without embarrassing myself. After about 10 minutes, I shook it off and went in for soundcheck. I discovered today that after a lifetime of conditioning, even my feet know that the show must go on. My injured foot did not bother me too much for the rest of the day, and it wasn't until the show was over did I start to develop severe pain. By the time I made it to the bus, I could hardly walk. But I wasn't going to let that stand in the way of Alison's party. Unfortunately, the pain increased quite severely, and I became very worried. Being the great wife she is, Hana kindly took it upon herself to take care of me. She gave me some Advil, made me an ice pack, and helped me tape it to my foot so I could stay at the party. Well, I iced my foot for about 40 minutes and realized that I still had two more shows left to do. If my foot did not work, I knew that I would be in a lot of trouble, so I politely excused myself, plopped into my Meat Loaf nightshirt, slipped on my sweat pants, dropped into my bunk, and pulled closed the shades while the rest of the bus carried on in hedonistic birthday bliss abandon. My kinda peeps.
All in all, it was a fantastic day and a helluva party. A day I would do all over again despite the physical pain. Happy Birthday, Alison! You are the best! - Benny out.