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Posts Tagged ‘live music’

Hannah Georgas and The Arcade Fire

July 14th, 2010

Last night was my only visit to the Ottawa Bluesfest so far this year — I didn’t get a pass to the event, for a number of reasons. And am I ever glad I chose yesterday to go.

I’d heard lots about Hannah Georgas lately, and what a treat to see her in a setting as intimate as the Barney Danson Theatre at the Canadian War Museum. She had just the right amount of chit-chat and warmth. I wasn’t sure how she’d tackle some of the more production-heavy tunes with just her and one accompanist, but they did a great job. The sound mix could’ve been better, but it was still a terrific show, and I felt lucky to have been there.

Here’s one of her newer songs, called “Until the Cops Come”:

And one of her better-known tunes, “Bang Bang You’re Dead”:

Right after, we headed to the main stage to catch The Arcade Fire — from a group of 200 to teeming masses of thousands… and our socks were blown off. These guys are just bursting with talent, every single one of them — swapping instruments and taking turns at the mic. There were so many people on stage, I couldn’t keep count. The filmreel running in the back was thoughtful and engaging, and every song was bang-on.

“Keep the Car Running”:

I actually felt my heart swell a couple of times during the show, it was so inspiring.


A terrific, memorable night with the perfect mix of cozy and close-up + big and overwhelming.

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The world was our Oysterband

April 15th, 2010

This past Tuesday, I went with John to see Oysterband play. He’s loved this group for years, while I don’t know much about them (other than their “When I’m up I can’t get down” song that Great Big Sea covered).

For the second time in two years, we drove to Peterborough (three hours each way) to see them play; and for the second time, I was struck by how much these guys seem to genuinely love what they do. This was part of their 30th anniversary tour, so for them to still play with enthusiasm and generosity towards each other — it’s an impressive thing.

John had keenly bought tickets in December, so we were front row centre. Literally. It actually made it tough to take photos or videos, since we could never pan out enough to include the entire band. Pretty rare to complain about being too close! John still caught some great shots…

(Fiddler Ian Telfer had ruptured his achilles tendon at a show awhile back — yowch! The bonus was that he got to wear sweats on stage :)

The finale was an acoustic version of “Put out the lights”. The band came to the edge of the stage and stood right over us. It was a pretty cool few minutes, though I’m sad at how loudly the tonally-challenged voices of the fans who sat next to me came across on the video… eep!

I like when I get to try something I wouldn’t have thought to try on my own. What was especially rewarding about this show was to see that it’s possible to do what you enjoy for many years and yet keep your head on your shoulders, even with much success (these guys are huge across the pond). Hopefully, they’ll play Ottawa next time ’round!

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Leonard Cohen is a bully

May 26th, 2009

Months ago, a couple of my friends suggested getting tickets to see Leonard Cohen on tour. I agreed, partly because I have FOMO, and partly because I figured he’s a legend whom I may not have the opportunity to see again. Last Friday, we drove two hours to see him in Kingston — tickets there were way less expensive (and also less sold out!) than Ottawa; as you can see from my pic, we had pretty decent seats, plus the jumbo screens were crystal clear.

I don’t own one Leonard Cohen cd. Even now, I’d be hard-pressed to remember more than 5 titles of songs he sings. In actuality, I find that a lot of his songs sound a bit similar. His over-the-top sax player drove me batty — cheeseball moves, the only guy on stage who did a costume change. During ‘Suzanne’, something about Leonard’s chord changes sounded funny in my ear.

And yet… I was absolutely won over that night. Two words: CLASS ACT.

The spry 74-year-old (!!!) had us chuckling with his banter and his skipping on- and off-stage, was incredibly generous to his bandmates, didn’t miss a beat, and gave us three (!!!) encores. Lots of solos by his über-talented fellow musicians — during which Leonard would take off his hat to hold it to his chest, and face them. His ‘back-up’ singers were mindblowing — Sharon Robinson (who co-wrote Everybody Knows, among other tunes) and the Webb sisters. It’s obvious Leonard Cohen still loves being onstage, feels lucky to be there, and appreciates his fans and associates. He’s the only musician I’ve ever seen who thanks the lighting guy, the techs, the person who takes care of the band’s hats… And is it me, or does he not look a lot like Dustin Hoffman?

Ok, so he’s not really a bully per se, but Leonard Cohen did make me cry four times during that evening. This one’s locked into the memory bank, for sure.

Ever been to a show that moved you to blubbering? (Or am I the only sop in the room?)

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