Taylor Dayne is one phenomenal talent. One of the best female vocalists on the planet in my opinion. Touring with her was truly an amazing honour. An equal honour was playing with Doug Williams, Sam McNally, Aiden Haworth and Eric Rasmussen both as Taylor's support act and as her band on her Australian Tour in May/June 2013. Those guys can PLAY!
Rehearsals and shows: After some full band rehearsals and music homework sessions in the lead up before the tour and not much communication with Taylor, she arrived from LA and came straight from the airport to the rehearsal room. We were in the middle of a song - it was loud - but I stopped playing as soon as I saw our fantastic tour manager Tony Mazell walk in with Taylor. I left the keyboard and went straight to give her a hug and welcomed her to Australia. I had flashbacks of myself in early high school and remembered so clearly when she was hitting the top of the charts and her songs were just massive at the time. She is a tiny woman, but do not let that fool you. Tiny and a total dynamite. There was no messing around. No time to whinge about any jetlag or tiredness - she never once did that. No makeup. Hair not done. Black sneakers, black tights, black fitted t-shirt. Black Guess Parka that she promptly removed as singing is a workout - who needs a parka? She took the mic and sang incredibly. As in, it was so right on, it could've been recorded and sold right then as a live recording and the vocal was already perfect. Her power is undeniable. That voice just soars.
One pass through the whole show, she threw some musical direction at each of us, we clarified some other things with her musically and that was it. Next time we saw her was in Canberra on opening night. More specific musical direction came in the sound check about keyboard sounds that Sam and I were using, Eric's guitar and whether he needed it cleaner...or dirtier..., Aiden's drum kit and where it needed to be on the stage, Doug playing specific bass lines and overall the tempos, cues and more.
We made it through show number one! It takes a certain level of professionalism and trust between each other to perform for an entire show when you have only just met the singer, but each show was great - nine in total. Taylor has done the songs for years and she knows her stuff, we just had to back her the best way we could. And we did. Well, we reckon we did haha.
Musical Direction: Taylor as a performer knew what she wanted from the foldback engineer and the Front of House engineer. She spent most of her soundcheck time for each show out the front hearing exactly what the audience would hear. She was specific about what she wanted in her foldback wedges and side fills and communicated clearly each time. Damien Cooper (drummer from 1927) as a production manager made everything flow and Doug Williams as Musical Director is second to none. He also trusted all of us enough to do our thing, knowing we would not let him down as an MD!
Taylors pre-show protocol:
She ate fish every night. She did eat chips sometimes, and sometimes had a beer or two after the show. She has a totally hot bod for a 51 year old and took time to hit the gym whilst on tour also. She told the crowd her favourite drink was Grand Marnier, so of course a few arrived on stage. She did her own hair and makeup. Beautifully. She has extensions in her hair (Great Lengths) that are the most real looking ones I have ever seen. Her US curlers blew up because of the power difference so she bought some Aussie ones, that she gave to me at the end of the tour. She is a big believer in Spanx. Girls know.
She hummed through different scales and arpeggios to warm up while she put on her makeup in the dressing room. Same ones I use. Good sign yeah!?
On the gig:
She delivered like a total pro every time. She strutted, she sang brilliantly, she had a choreographed show that required specific movements on each song. It was all about the fans. She always did a meet and greet afterwards, signing whatever anyone wanted... CDs, photos, etc. She announced to one audience in Melbourne that "touring is not glamorous, it is all about you guys." The hits, Love Will Lead You Back, Shelter and Tell It To My Heart were a sure-fire thing every time we played them.
She travelled alone with the agent or Tour manager or sometimes with us in the van or on the plane.
Superstar or regular woman or both?
Both. She is Jewish, originally from NY and now lives in LA. She is a Mum, she Skyped her kids. She has sold millions of records. She has experienced the sadness of men who don't want to commit like zillions of women everywhere have experienced. She has made use of some "help" along the way which she admits to her crowd with regard to Botox etc. After years in the industry and as a woman in the industry, she is no wimp. Her work ethic is strong.
We as an entourage were generously taken to an excellent Italian restaurant in Melbourne on the last day by the man who makes it all happen as the promoter and agent, Roy Ortuso and his lovely wife Enza. (Be careful when you eat with Italians...they are serious and you won't escape with the same weight you began with. At least one kilo will be added to your body - minimum. Fact.)
Taylor and I were eating a Crème Brûlée after an already massive meal and after putting her spoon down to say, "I'm done", she picked it up a few minutes later to have one more bite. Who hasn't done that?? She sometimes grabbed sandwiches off the rider plate backstage after the show. We would talk about how bread is bad but when you're hungry you just have it...
Loved singing and playing with Taylor. Doug as MD ensures that we as a band are much more than a band but we are a family, which comes across on stage when we play as it is so united.
Overall, Taylor was focussed and committed to her show and her fans. She was specific and wanted excellence in the smallest things, even if a tempo needed to be two clicks faster, then we did it that way instead. She presented herself stunningly each night. Soundcheck / travel / eating out - never any make up. Her music, which is pop, dance and contemporary ballads amounts to a great and entertaining show. Her ballad, Born To Sing, was a highlight for me each time. Just a simple piano accompaniment and a ridiculously powerful vocal that has amazing lyrics and amazing connection - perhaps the most of any song in the show.
A great experience and one I was honoured to be a part of.
Anyway, it was wonderful to work with someone like Taylor who knows the power of the voice. Don't forget you can click here and go to my STORE, to grab resources like DVDs and powerfully inspirational posters to help build up YOUR voice.
You Have a Voice, Love Simone x