Thursday, October 3, 2013

Jimmy Cliff - Takashi

First, we will answer the question you just asked in your head: Jimmy Cliff is not dead. He's 65 years old and released a Grammy-winning album last year.

When Dave heard Jimmy Cliff was coming to Chicago, and it wasn't a race weekend, he expressed a strong interest in seeing the show. Jimmy was playing a new theater in Chicago, the Concord Music Hall, which appeared to be a nice sized venue for a show like this. Tickets were $34 each after service charges, general admission was the only option.  The show was on a Friday so we'd still have the whole weekend to do other things. With that said, there were some downsides: The venue was in an area of the city we were unfamiliar with and not close to any lodging, Holly needed to get in 12 miles (straight) of running for her upcoming marathon, hotels were pricey that weekend, and reggae shows generally start late. But everything fell into place and we ended up spending two nights in the city.

We cabbed from our downtown hotel to the Bucktown / Logan Square neighborhoods. Good research led us to find that The Map Room, one of Chicago's first craft beer focused bars, was just a block away from our chosen dinner location. This is a fun spot to have a couple of drinks at, but be warned, no kitchen.

Dinner was at Takashi, a Japanese-French fusion Michelin rated restaurant run by Takashi Yagihashi (from Iron Chef and Top Chef). We chose to sit on the sidewalk patio to get that city-dining experience. Within 2 minutes we witnessed a car back into a taxi cab. Fun! We shared three appetizers: tempura roll, scallops and gnocchi, and pork belly. All were excellent and could have been center-plate features on their own.

Our favorite was the pork belly, which was served with pieces of steamed buns, greens, and spicy mustard. Diners were encouraged to make a sandwich out of the ingredients.

Main entrees were next. Dave had loin of veal and Holly had pork two-ways. Both were good, but overshadowed by the appetizers. If we visit Takashi again we are going all appetizers.

Finally dessert: Holly's was right up her alley...butterscotch panne cotta served in an eggshell with a pistachio macaroon. Dave had a chocolate cake with bananas and raisin paste. Both were great.

Off to the show! Our plan was to get there close to when the doors would open. With Holly's current foot injuries it would not be a good idea for her to stand for hours. Fortunately the venue had a lot of seating in the back of the theater. The two long rows of booth-type banquettes filled up quickly. We were comfortable and figured once Jimmy came on stage we'd get up for a better view. Luckily, they opened one of two balconies. These areas were little enclosed rooms that offered a side-view of the stage. We were able to move up there and sat at a little table. There were glass windows protecting the people below from our potentially falling drinks. We hung out here for the opening DJ, opening singer (Ethan Tucker), and Jimmy's first number.

Jimmy Cliff and his band started off with a ten-to-fifteen minute medley on the bongos. We couldn't hear too well from our balcony seats so we moved down to the main floor - much better sound. He played for about two hours doing his its as well as some covers of early ska songs. He was in high spirits and danced around a bit on stage.

The audience was one of the most polite group of people we've every seen at a show. We certainly weren't the youngest folks here, but not the oldest by a long shot. There was a good mix of men and women and folks of all races. Towards the end of the evening we walked through the crowd to the front of the stage to get a close look and no one was putting up resistance (see how we worked in a Cliff lyric there?). We stayed close for two songs, then moved back because we were polite like that.

The set list was full of hits, some we had even forgotten about. Cliff and crew put on a great show that night and we had lots of fun. Our pictures from the show are grainy iphone photos so we'll share some from

We left the venue close to 1am, found a cab, and decided we wanted one more drink. We weren't sure if our hotel bar would be open so we hit The Wit since Dave knew they had a rooftop bar that would likely be open. We waited at the velvet ropes to talk to the hostess but heard her tell folks in front of us that the cover was $10 ladies and $20 men. Forget that! The main floor bar, State and Lake, was open and very nice. There was a guy playing guitar and singing..... Reasonable prices on drinks and bar snacks. Good way to end the night.

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