We Rant and We Roar

Went to Great Big Sea last night. Mere words can’t express how good it was.

I brought my folding chair and cane – the folding chair so I could sit down and rest my knees, and the cane as protective colouration so that people would respect my need to sit down and rest my knees.

We got there at 7:30. The ticket said the doors open at 8:00 on one part of the ticket, and 8:30 on another. Oh well, it was general admission, so getting there early is a good idea. We parked behind a car with MA plates “GRTBGSEA”. The line up wasn’t too bad yet, and with the chair, it wasn’t so bad waiting.

When we finally got in, I found a good spot against a support beam where I could set up my chair and all was good. But then a security guy came over and asked if I wanted to move up to the balcony. He said they were offering all the pregnant women and people with children and the handicapped a chance to get the seats upstairs. Hey, sounded like a good deal to me. Vicki and I got up there and got a nice seat looking down on the stage – no sea of heads and arms to look through for me! I didn’t want to deprive people of the rare seats, so I stayed with my folding chair, but Vicki got a seat.

One unfortunate fact of having a great view is that it also meant that there was nothing between the speakers and me. And the opening act was a rock band called “The Push Stars”, and with the sound system set up for bodhrans and button accordians and penny whistles, three loud guitars was just too much. It was just a wall of noise – I could barely make out any lyrics at all, and what I could hear was pretty blah top 40 crap. I was mystified why Great Big Sea would pick them for an opening act – until later when Alan dragged the lead singer up on stage to talk about how he’d written a bunch of songs, including “Sea of No Cares”. I guess that explains the unfortunate turn towards the mainstream that GBS has been on. Last time I saw them in Rochester, their opening act was a band that sounded like the Pogues might have if their lead singer had been sober. Now *that* was a good opening act for GBS!

Anyway, the main event was great. Great Big Sea did all the stuff people expected, as well as all the stuff off the new CD. “The Night That Paddy Murphy Died”, “Mari Mac”, “That Old Black Rum”, “Excursion Around the Bay”… The audience was jumping up and down and singing along. Everything you expect from a GBS concert. And yeah, the new stuff was good too. I guess it’s not too surprising that the set list seemed an awful lot like one they used in Road Rage, with some new stuff sprinkled in. It was funny to know what song they were doing next half the time. I haven’t had so much fun since the last one.

It was an interesting crowd. Lots of young people, lots of people my age (ie. OLD), several family groups. Most people were really into everything, both the new and the old – I expected the younger people to only know the new stuff. There were some people there who obviously didn’t want to be there – down near one edge of the stage there was a teen aged girl with her arms folded across her chest and a teenager’s sneer on her face the whole time – probably one of the aforementioned family groups. Up front there was a middle aged woman in a striped sweater and a 70s hair style who when things got wild would do this fake applauding thing where she tapped one hand’s fingers into the other hand’s fingers. And an older white haired woman who sang along to every song for the opening act who didn’t seem to know the GBS as much. Three of the Push Stars were from Rochester area, and the other went to school in Buffalo, so she was probably one of their moms.

Ok, there was one little thing I didn’t like about the show – I really don’t like it when bands feel the need to screw with their old favourites. Especially when they’re written by that great old writer “Trad Arr”. At this point, I can’t even remember the song it was, but Alan started messing with the tempo of the lyrics, so he’d finish singing a phrase before the music got half way through the phrase. Makes it hard to sing along. The funny thing is that this one of the ones where he lets the audience sing a few verses alone, and we sung it straight. Oh well, I guess musicians get bored doing the same thing over and over again.

But that was a minor thing. They sung “Wouldn’t it be great, if the band just never ended”, and then came out and did two encores. These guys really know how to put on a show.