Where do I begin?
I was not impressed with the way the Birch North Park Theater is run. It was disorganized. They have volunteers working there that are not so smart. I found out they get paid $35 a show and most of the volunteers take whichever seats they can find and stay there - even hide when a PAYING customer comes up to them and asks them to move because they are in his/her seat. You would think the volunteer would get up and move, but no. Security just gets a chair from the back and sits the paying customer at the end of the aisle. It was shit like this that probably won't get me back to the theater.
The sound. It wasn't that great. A.J., the piano, the guitars, they were not microphoned properly. The sound was way too low. They didn't even have the monitors on for the first 2 or 3 songs. The seats were too small and a bit uncomfortable.
A.J. Croce took the stage promptly at 8pm and started on the piano. This was my first time seeing him and I liked him. I wish he would've played more songs off of his Cantos CD. I think he only did two. He is super talented. He was awesome on the piano and the guitar. His band consisted of a gentleman named Michael, who I think tours with A.J. on a regular basis. He was on an acoustic guitar the whole time and you can tell that his parts weren't scripted for the most part. He just played what he heard/felt.
He plays the type of music that I don't normally listen to, but I can respect. I've always been a sucker for the piano, so I was entertained. He did his rendition of "Maybe I'm Amazed," originally by Paul McCartney. I think he does it better than McCartney and it's one of my favorites of A.J.'s. He told stories between each song, and sometimes the stories were longer than the songs. It wasn't too bad - he made me laugh, but more songs would have definitely been better. He didn't have a set list and was taking suggestions from the audience, so that was cool.
There was a brief intermission before Allen Toussaint took the stage and since I knew we weren't going to stay for the whole set, we decided to forgo our 5th row seats and sit in the back so we could sneak out. Well, the volunteer told us we couldn't do that and that we had to take our proper seats and I got pissed off because we were trying to be polite - stupid volunteer. So we left.
I heard that Allen Toussaint was great and he played for 90 minutes and then after his set, A.J. and Toussaint did this dueling piano/piano forte type thing that was really cool.
Overall, it was an okay experience. The venue really turned me off, but A.J. made it worth it.