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SLCR #01: Great Big Sea (October 9, 1996)

TWENTY YEARS OF THIS NONSENSE. My goodness. And all because Great Big Sea put on a good show and Pat said some funny things when he was drunk.

Aaron said I should do more to mark the 20th anniversary of the SLCRs than just post installment #1, but I disagree because I am lazy and uncreative. And we could quibble about the date anyway. Rereading this, it clearly was sent out on the 10th. And the SLCR name didn’t come for a while. If I’d known this would last for 20 years, I’d have come up with a better name.

In the original version of this review, I made fun of the girl from high school, who was in reality a very nice person who never did anything to me and didn’t deserve me being an asshole. (And I don’t think she was even there.) Then the review sat collecting dust on my old website forever until one day when she and Google came together to make a discovery that was unpleasant for all of us. I’d long forgotten what I’d written and felt like a complete ass. She was very gracious in accepting my apology. I was still mortified. I mention this in the interest of historical accuracy and/or owning up to it when someone rightly calls you out on your bullshit. I am not owning up to it enough to include the unedited original version, though.


Okay. So Deserée sends me an e-mail telling me to buy this new disc she got. “It’s really good,” she said, “like Ashley MacIssac but it’s not.” Fair enough. And I trust her judgment. But only to a point… I mean, after all, this is the same person who likes Blessid Union Of Souls, Journey, and even… Yanni. So I had to wait until I joined Columbia House to get the disc for free.

Last night, on tour to try and sell the discs (coincidentally enough, they had some right there), Great Big Sea played a concert at Louis’. So, when Céline Dion didn’t merit a full write-up, and “Weird Al” didn’t, and Smashing Pumpkins didn’t, and Meat Loaf didn’t (not that I had time to do one anyway, but still), why a report on Great Big Sea?

‘Cause it was the best concert I’ve ever been to.

Dez, Pat and I show up about 8:30. The concert has no set start time, so as to get people there early, and make them sit around and drink. We can’t find a table in a good spot, so we situate ourselves around a tabletop 1942 arcade machine.

Dez gets a drink (vodka paralyzer, was it?), Pat gets a rum and Coke, and I get a Coke and Coke. (Such is the life of the designated driver.) Dez and I head off to look at GBS shirts and stuff. I buy nothing. My arm couldn’t fit through a neck-hole that size. We come back, and Dez takes Pat to the souvenir stand. One of us must guard the 1942 machine at all times.

They each bought a shirt (the same one, of course. Dez claims she bought hers first). About this time, I bought food (chicken fingers & fries).

Dez then decides to try her skill at 1942 and… well, she got the little plane to move, at any rate. That’s a very good start.

She goes off and gets mozza sticks. Pat gets another rum and Coke.

We sit. And wait. And play some more 1942. We bemoan the lack of servers coming around to our arcade game/table.

At about, oh, 10:30, maybe, Jay Hails takes the stage. He’s the brother of a girl I went to elementary school with (and who both Josy and I went to high school with), and he was actually pretty decent. Then he takes off. People start to mill about the dance floor/pseudo-mosh pit. We wait. And wait.

And wait. About this time, we were noticing that the little airplane in the 1942 demo always did the same thing, and always got shot. We told him he was stupid, but he didn’t listen. I played a game of it to show him what to do, but I wasn’t much better.

I should point out that we weren’t drunk, but we were still talking to the arcade game. Pat, in order to remedy his non-drunkenness, finally locates a server and orders two rum and Cokes.

Finally, Great Big Sea takes the stage. And really, I can’t say anything but… wow. It was truly great. Even I was standing and clapping and cheering and (almost) dancing. And I don’t do those things.

The lead singer was in fine form, carrying on a running conversation with the audience. “Did anyone see us at the MuchMusic Video Awards? (crowd cheers) What a great party. Alanis was there. (crowd boos) And Bryan Adams opened the show, then we played. You know what that means? Bryan Adams opened for us! (crowd cheers) We said, ‘Hey Bryan, anytime you want to open for us again, you’re more than welcome.’ And you know what? He was playing in the parking lot, we were in the studio, so we told the guys, ‘You know, we’re not that big, you coulda let the poor bugger in to meet us.’ Ah, Bryan Adams. Keep an eye out for that kid, I think he’s got a real future in this business.” Then he played the first few notes of Summer of ‘69 and the crowd sang along, singing right through the first chorus.

Pat, not caring for this type of music, orders two more rum and Cokes.

It’s hard to say what the highlight was. Maybe it was their most popular songs; Mari-Mac, Run Runaway, Goin’ Up, Lukey, The Old Black Rum. Maybe it was the truly inspired Celtic cover of REM’s It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine). Maybe it was the one song that they wanted to use to unite the country, so that we never again lose in international hockey to a nation that colours it’s pucks on TV. Maybe it was the intensity of the crowd – I’ve never heard people chanting for an encore before. Maybe it was the closing medley that combined GBS stuff with Lou Reed and The Police, among others.

Then there was one other part. You can’t do what he said to do (since you’re reading this), so just imagine how I was feeling. “Okay. Close your eyes. Humour me now, just close your eyes. Imagine for a second that you’re at the Grade 10 dance. You’re scared out of your mind. You hope that guy won’t come over and ask you to dance to Stairway To Heaven. And although you pray that a good song is coming on next, it’s 11:45, the second-to-last song, and you just know what it’s going to be… ‘On a hot summer night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?’”

Yup. Just imagine what I was feeling at that point. They actually tried to do the entire dialogue, but the lead singer couldn’t say “I bet you say that to all the boys,” ‘cause he was laughing too hard. So was I.

I guess the most impressive thing I can say about the concert was that at a few points last night, I was sitting there thinking, “No, the Dummies couldn’t do this.”

Which says a lot, I think.

Oh, did I mention they made fun of Meat Loaf?

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