Get Ready to Wiggle
When my friend Suzette from Mommy & Me class said she was going to take her son to see the Wiggles Live, I said, Let’s all go! The Wiggles, Australian for silly, is sure to be a grand ol time. I was delighted when Suzette told me we got 2nd and 3rd row seats. Wuhoo! How lucky are we?
To Stroll or Not To Stroll
Although the A’s-Angels game was no score in the bottom of the 8th, we decided to avoid parking mayhem and take BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). Dear Son enjoys the rare opportunity to ride sans car seat, and at age 2, he’s free. Forget the stroller, my son is a Big Boy, going to his first rock concert! So, as long as the baseball fans don’t trample the toddlers walking on the bridge from the station to the coliseum, we’re all right.
Lights, Camera, Action! …
Kid’s t-shirts are $ 15 and mini light sabers with the Big Red Car on top are another
$ 15, so I distract my 2 year old with a sippy cup of Passionfruit-Peach-Apple juice (thank you Trader Joe’s) and then we are on our way to our 2nd row seats! Tickets were only sold for the Sideline Club Level, with folding chairs on the court, and the stage set at mid-court. So everybody has a great seat. Our 2nd row is courtside, so we were not tunnel vision-deer in headlights, but we are able to see the entire stage, flanked by 2 video screens, Journey style. (How many of you knew that this method of broadcasting concerts was inspired by Steve Perry and pioneered by Journey in the 80’s?) The show was delayed due to the parking fiasco of the earlier Wiggles matinee and the aforementioned A’s game just ending, our own 5pm Wiggle audience is delayed entrance to the parking lots. Screens come in handy as they show a couple of Wiggle episodes during our delay, which Dear Son so enjoyed. Also, every seat gets a Wiggles fun pack: a coloring book, box of 4 crayons, a poster, and coupons for Mott’s applesauce and juice.
The lights dim, and the toddler audience anticipation is audible. The screens show the Wiggles in the Big Red Car driving to the stadium, including local shots of “Downtown Oakland 980” freeway signs, and the Arena marquee. Dear Son’s eyes are glued to the screen. I have to point out to him that the Wiggles are actually driving the Big Red Car on stage! They perform the entire opening song (Toot Toot Chugga Chugga) from the car, driving all over the stage. The crowd goes wild. (Next year we are bringing a sign “I Heart Big Red Car”). The Wiggles themselves run through the crowd and Jeff, the Purple Wiggle, runs right in front of us. Alas, Dear Son misses this magic Wiggle moment, as he’s still looking at the screen/ stage. The third song is the classic “Rock a Bye Your Bear”, a standard country tune complete with hand motions. Yes, part of the Wiggle magic is the interactive nature of their songs. DS sits on my lap and we do the movements together, as he seems a little overwhelmed. I ask him if he’s okay, check his heartbeat (normal), ask him to do a little dance, he complies with his trademark rapid stepping in place. We’re okay. We begin with the wave (not the sporting game wave, the We Are the World wave) followed by “Everybody Clap, Everybody Sing!” You get the idea. DS has big smiles. He knows the movements to this song. I’m so proud. (Photos follow.)
Not Your Average Rock Concert: Reflections from a seasoned concertgoer
Turns out I didn’t need to smuggle in my camera under the prerequisite feminine products in my purse (a trick I learned at Wham! Day on the Greene 1986). Amateur still photography is allowed at Wiggles events. Wow, does Greg look different in person. The Yellow Wiggle and lead singer sported a new buzz cut and his hair was coming in gray. And he’s younger than I am. Actually prior to this show, I was thinking that Greg Page resembled Morton Harket. Man, can he sing. A confident tenor and a friendly chap besides, his voice ranks with the best of the crooners. (I am going to write to him and suggest that on his next solo album, he record Culture Club’s “Love is Love”, and
a-ha!’s “High and Low”.) Other random thoughts: the Wiggles really acknowledge the super signs and gifts offered them, stopping the show for a photo op and displaying the sign & child on the video screens. Somebody gave Anthony a pair of goggles, and he thanked them profusely, saying it would keep the sweat out of his eyes, and wore them the next entire song. I’ve noted on the set list following, which songs who actually played what instrument(s). Yes, as a trained musician, it really does bug me that Murray performs half the show without plugging in his guitar. Hello, Andrew Ridgley? What are we really teaching the kids here? I was delighted when, later in the show, he plugged in and performed a familiar ‘lil ditty: the intro to Stairway to Heaven. Early in the show I notice the fab four taking turns standing stage left behind a podium that may have housed a keyboard. Suspicious. Reminds me of the “Low Effort” spot on the three tiered aerobics shows back in the 80s. I think it was a rest opportunity. Speaking of which, Jeff, the Wiggle most prone to take a nap, exhibits notable energy and storms the audience himself in “Where’s Jeff?” (a la Styx 2003), as well as demonstrates great falsetto talent mimicking the Captain Feathersword’s impromptu operatic Ode to Oakland. And I thought he was always sleeping because he couldn’t quite keep up w the younger wiggles (Jeff Fatt being in his 50s). Go Jeff!
Just Can’t Get Enough
The set list follows in full. I‘ll highlight some special Wiggles Magic moments for y’all now. Most enjoyable were some unrehearsed moments, including Anthony (the Blue Wiggle, and my favorite) messing with Captain Feathersword, and causing the entire skit to be delayed due to stage laughter. Captain’s Magic Buttons is a clever skit showcasing the amazing talents of Paul Paddick, who plays the Captain. Anthony presses buttons on Captain’s jacket, and Captain will make an animal sound. After the cow, etc. Captain does a wild rendition which resembles an extended version of the intro to “Wipe Out”. It’s amazing and long and funny, and so when Anthony, snickering, presses the button again, Captain is not prepared, but attempts to do so again in a flash, only to bust up in laughter. But he does, eventually, make the crazed cookaburra sound again.
At one point Greg and Anthony tell the kids to clap when they hear a food that they like to eat. Audience vote for next song via applause. So, of course, they say “Brussel Sprouts!” and “Broccoli!” before they say “Fruit Salad!” and the crowd goes wiggly wild as the Yummy Yummy intro sounds. Now this is another Wiggle classic worth mentioning, it’s classic euro-techno-pop 80s, a la Depeche Mode. We just can’t get enough. Let me tell you: this tops McCartney in Berkeley leading the crowd in “Hey Jude”.
Friends of the Wiggles
Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog and Henry the Octopus were also in attendance, along with the Wiggly Dancers. The animals I don’t get into as much, but my son loves Dorothy and Wags. During “Caveland”, one of my favorites, the Wiggles wear Fred & Barney inspired fur over their wiggles uniforms. The Wiggly Dancers perform in dinosaur costumes. How lucky are they! They get paid to jump on trampolines wearing pterodactyl wings. (Sometimes I think I’ve missed my calling.) The aforementioned Captain Feathersword performs Eagle Rock from a trapeze.
Start Me Up
A classic wiggles song is “Quack Quack.,” complete with animal sounds and dance movements. The toddler audience is in the aisles. Just when I was thinking, hey aren’t there more verses to this song? Anthony explains the magic buttons can make Captain perform this song in any number of styles, including, but not limited to, Mick Jagger! This might be one of those “You had to be there” moments, but a goofy pirate struttin’ like Jagger whilst flapping his arms like a duck: absolutely hysterical. Duck Jagger was followed by Barry Gibb and by Babs, none other than Ms. Streisand.
Near the end of the lineup was Dear Son’s favorite: Hot Potato. This is a simple 12-bar blues complete with call & response, a la Harry Connick Jr. Orchestra. It so works with the toddler age group. Brilliant.
Dear Son and his pal are hungry, so the finale comes at the right time. The Wiggles buckle up, of course, and get in the Big Red Car to perform a short version of Toot Toot Chugga Chugga. Psyche! They jump out of the car and continue to perform hyper ultra short versions strung together a la Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat circa 1990 (That’s disco dance remix style, for the rest of you). And then, multicolored confetti falls from the sky. And my sweet son is too emotionally exhausted to walk back to the BART station, I carry all 35 pounds of him across the walkway and he gives me big hugs all the way home.
I brought my tiny Hello Kitty pen and paper to take notes during the concert (Thanks, Michelle!) I even noted when Anthony played drum set, when Murray and Greg plugged in their guitars; alas I forgot it at home today, so some may be out of order.
Toot Toot Chugga Chugga
Look Both Ways
Rock a Bye Your Bear
Lights, Camera, Action, Wiggles!
Can You Point Your Fingers and Do the Twist
C’est Wags, C’est Bon
We’re Dancing with Wags the Dog
Move Your Arms like Henry
Move Like an Emu
Fruit Salad…Yummy Yummy
Ode to Oakland
Hoop De Doo
Play Your Guitar with Murray (Murray plugs in)
Dorothy Dance Song
Pitter Patter (Dorothy vox)
Quack Quack (Greg plugs in)
Quack Quack like Jagger, Bee Gee’s and Babs
Toot Toot Chugga Chugga (reprise)