Vilnius, Lithuania

We were all still reeling and flying high from St. Petersburg as we hop onto a short flight that gets us into the Vilnius hotel by 1pm. It’s bright and sunny and so are our spirits as we head into a half hour press conference with 20 or so journalists and photographers. I’m really pleased about the anticipation that I feel in the air as we conference and get settled in the hotel.

OK! Alright!! It’s a sports arena! I’m into it. I dig it. It feels casual, relaxed, and loose, with a scaffold stage that actually makes the space smaller and more comfortable than you might first expect. Somewhere in my mind’s eye, I see ‘awesome’… Great Concert. I’ve mentioned so often the experience of doing a concert in an unexpected environment and basically making the most of what’s there. And finding that unusual situation to be just super-conducive to a fun environment! Here we are with a bunch of folding chairs on the main floor, describing an area 120 feet wide and 100 deep. And then bleacher seats wrapped around this, making a small indoor amphitheatre. First row was arm’s length away.

We’re all a little nervous about our late start, but you can hear the buzz in the air. The audience is expectant and loosey-goosey-juicy with big smiles and a cheer as the lights dim and we hit the stage. Our gang feels it, and the band is burnin’ and the promoter’s grinnin’. Yes, as Aldra, our local promoter’s assistant, would later laughingly declare, they were so young! Basically 25 and younger across the first four rows.

Lots of people will remember this as the ‘Little White Bear’ night. I will. A pretty young girl in her teens, 15 to 18, came to the edge of the stage and handed me a little white bear with a red collar. They all oo’ed and ah’ed—Me too! I held that bear and sang to it and danced with it, literally, as we closed the first half of the program.

I walked back out with the bear for the second half… me and Larry: Your Song. I set the bear on its own high stool, letting it look out at the audience just in front of Larry’s rig. The continuity was tangible. I sang directly to the bear, and to two little girls, six or seven years old, in the front row. I thank their moms for bringing them.

The band grooved and bumped the funk. Turano and Calderon screaming and punctuating You Don’t See Me and Sweet P. Pie into chest-thumpin’ funk. Earlier that evening, Larry had made me cry with his improvised intro, his own choosing, into We Got By.

At some point that night, I did a little Mick Jagger strut across the stage, duck flapping my arms, lips and booty poked out as much as I could. Oh, what fun! That’s the sh—tuff, y’all. Patrick said the crowd went “bat-shit crazy” when we did Five. Which kind of describes the feeling for the whole night. I would take that as the standard for any night. Real complete!

Al by Al

Al by Al

Thank you, Vilnius! Off we go to Minsk!

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