TWO NOTES: This is a longer entry than usual, and full of tour spoilers, so if you haven't yet seen the show, you may wish to skip this. But I want to record as many details as I can as soon as I possibly can. There are also a couple of video clips from past shows. But for those of you who couldn't make it to the show, I wanted you all to see what went on. And if any YouTube clips from Mohegan Sun get posted, I will post them for you as well. And photos to come soon, too. :)
So last night was THE night. The night that Sister Kitten and I exchanged almost two dozen E-mails over the actual purchase of tickets. The night we both had been looking forward to for so long. Yes, kittens, Conan was at Mohegan Sun last night, and I, along with my lil' sis and BFF, were lucky enough to see him.
And the evening was worth every. Precious. Penny. Sister Kitten even stopped smarting over the $4 fee the casino ATM charged her, as well as the $25 she lost at the slots.
Anyhoo, first of all, about the arena itself. It's a small enough arena that there isn't a single bad seat in the house, but isn't large enough to feel like it's an arena, if you know what I mean. There are about 10,000 seats in the house. Conan said it was the largest room that they played on the tour, and the place was almost entirely sold out.
The show started promptly at 9:00 PM with the opening act, Reggie Watts. He was, in a word, bizarre. Lots of his riff between songs--if you could call them those--were nonsensical. Every third or fourth word he uttered was "shit". He opened his set with a really bizarre song about grandparents, then continued with a "tender" song about lovemaking, and closed with an interesting beatbox mix. I will admit that some parts were laugh-out-loud funny, but man, this guy was weird.
But we didn't come to the casino to see Reggie Watts, no!!! We came to see our favorite ginger!! There was a ten-minute break between the opening act and the main attraction. And then, Conan's band, the LPB Band, came onstage.
The LPB Band consists of almost all of the members of the old Tonight Show band, sans Max Weinberg. And they were tight. Awesome. Seriously, one of the best live bands I've ever seen. The horn section is particularly amazing.
The band opened with an amazing cover of "Move On Up." LaBamba had lead vocals! And the man can sing--more than just the falsetto he used in the "In the Year 2000/3000" skits. And then he, Jerry Vivino (on sax) and Mark Pender (on trumpet) went into the audience and played! It was wild! And then Pender blew his trumpet--and held the note--for what seemed like five minutes! Lots of people were chanting "Blow man blow!" It was a great opening to the show!
And then, the arena went dark and the screens filled with the words, "Two months ago..." (Note: the video clip says "One month ago..." because it's a clip from one of the Vancouver shows in May. Thank you, YouTube gods).
At that very moment, the lights start to flicker. Andy Richter makes his grand announcement. And then, he walked onto the stage, clad simply in a dark grey suit, purple shirt, and a full red pompadour and beard. The audience immediately was on its feet.
Conan immediately went into his monologue, and it didn't take him long to start riffing on the casino's location: “We’ve played a few casinos on this tour, Las Vegas and Atlantic City, but now the crown jewel – Uncasville. There’s a name that rolls off the tongue – Uncasville." (He's not the first performer to make fun of Uncasville's name, trust me. I saw Debbie Reynolds at the Cabaret several years back and about a third of her show was based on that).
There was a Connecticut Sun game in the arena hours before the show, and Conan quipped that when he entered the arena, people thought he was one of the players. That was just one of the many examples of self-deprecating humor during the show. At another point, he compared his legs to "a pair of ivory Slim Jims dusted with paprika." He also mentioned that someone told him he resembled the Brawny paper towel guy after a bone marrow transplant, upon which he quipped, "I'm not feeling very absorbent right now."
Conan also took lots of ample time to make fun of our fair state of Connecticut. He mentioned that there would be lots of raccoons on the drive home giving him the finger. He took time to riff on the robotic wolves that could be seen throughout the casino, wolves that cried out such things as "Your children will never go to college!" He said that he couldn't say, "Hello, Uncasville!" at the top of the show because not everyone was from Uncasville. He told the story of the guy he met who drove fifteen hours, from Maine, to see the show, and started doing an imitation of the man driving, pacing back and forth across the stage. At one point during this riff, a woman screamed out that she was pregnant, to which Conan responded, "That was one wild night in Uncasville!" One thing I love about Conan is how he plays off of the members of his audience so well, and tonight was certainly no exception.
Near the end of the monologue, which was about half an hour, he talked about how he "visited a therapist" and how she told him about the "eight stages of grief for a late-night talk show host who just lost his job." The eight stages started off with...well, rawther than me tell you about it, allow me to show you:
After the monologue, the fun continued when Conan picked up his guitar. There is just something so sexy about him playing guitar--and he can play! The band started playing, and his backup singers, the Coquettes, danced on stage. This is when Conan started to sing about his childhood, to the tune of the Elvis tune, "Polk Salad Annie". Following this very high-energy number, there was another video clip featuring a "generic network executive" (clip from one of the Seattle shows):
Speaking of Conan and women, he said that women have never liked it when he growls and hisses at him. Au contraire, mon frere! That's one of my favorite things about him, and many other women in the arena felt the same way! (And some men, too. At one point Conan asked, "Why do I always get the guys? At the hotel there's always a line of three or four guys waiting for me, wanting me to watch ESPN together.")
After this number, Conan introduced his old sidekick, Andy Richter, to the tune of "Trololo" (which sounded, to me, like something from The Muppet Show.) Andy and Conan riffed for a bit, then segued into a "commercial" for Mystic Seaport--a very raunchy commercial involving lots of "seamen" on the decks. (Please use your imagination on this one, kittens). This was one of the few weak parts of this show. This commercial was tightly scripted, and Andy flubbed his lines a couple of times. He would return a few minutes later, but only after...
...the ginormous, inflatable Bat Out of Hell from the Meatloaf. I will post pictures of it when I can. It has to be seen to be believed. It was one of the funniest sight gags I've ever seen.
The bat made a very brief appearance and was deflated very quickly. But not to fear, kittens, the laughs would continue with another old friend...
TRIUMPH!!! (clip from one of the Seattle shows) Oh, and be sure to check out Conan's outfit after Triumph's bit...
Following this clip, and this brilliant sight gag (God, I can't wait to post pictures), Andy came back on with a segment that told about "what he learned after leaving The Tonight Show." Again, it was, unfortunately, a weak segment where Andy flubbed his lines. I really felt bad for the guy, I really did. Andy can really get some funny moments every now and then.
There were no special guests at this particular show--no Dropkick Murphys like in Boston, and certainly now Stewart/Colbert/O'Brien dance-off like at Radio City. But that was okay. Deon Cole, one of the old Tonight Show writers, came out and did a hilarious set. He was even funnier on stage than he was on The Tonight Show, probably because he was free of network constraints. He played off of the audience brilliantly, and had a lot of jokes about the relationships between Caucasians and African-Americans. Very, very funny.
Conan came back after Deon Cole's set and went into a cover of "On the Road Again," with some changed lyrics about his situation about "wanting to have his own show again." When he came to the lyrics about thanking TBS for having his own show again, the arena erupted into applause.
Then out came the "Walker, Texas Ranger" lever. If anyone remembers from the old show, this was the handle that, when you pulled it, played random, bizarre, and unaltered clips from the old show Walker, Texas Ranger. However, because this bit was now owned by NBC, he had to change it to the "Chuck Norris Rural Policeman Handle." And I will say, these clips were extremely funny. I mean, really bizarre, the kind that made you think, "How the hell did these clips fit into the storyline?"
Finally, the closing number (sadly) arrived, where Conan thanked all of his fans, in a genuine, heartfelt way, for all of the support he received since leaving The Tonight Show, and ended with a cover of "I Will Survive," as performed by Cake:
Was there an encore, kittens? Not just one, but two!!! This following video is straight from the show I saw. The Coquettes each had a solo in the first encore, "The Weight", and then Conan ran into the audience for the second one, "Forty Days":
Unfortunately, this video clip didn't have the solos with the Coquettes, but it was still an amazing number.
As you could tell, I had an awesome time. Conan's amazing as a live performer, and I think he's even better without the network constraints. I can't wait to see what he does with his TBS show. I loved the fact that he was able to play music during his show; he can really shred that guitar. I really, really hope that the rumored documentary comes to fruition; I will certainly buy that DVD!
After I got home, at 1 AM, it took me two hours to fall asleep. I was that wound up from the excitement of the show. It was not a disappointment in any way. I had a GREAT time.
P.S. He DID do the string dance. That made me enormously happy. :)
38 minutes ago