Great Big Sea

Great Big Sea at the PNE in Vancouver, 8/21/2013

48-hour turnaround time: fastest trip I’ve done to Vancouver in some time! Possibly EVER! Because yeah, my belovedest Dara and I zoomed up to Vancouver by train on Wednesday morning, and home again on Thursday night. We crashed at the home of friends Geri and Rob, and the purpose before us was, of course, GREAT BIG SEA!

We got up to Vancouver around noonish on Wednesday as per usual for the train, and promptly took the Skytrain over to Geri and Rob’s so we could crash for a while before heading off to the show. The B’ys played this time at the PNE, the Pacific National Exhibition, a venue that reminded me a lot of the Seattle Center during Folklife–only with a lot more of an amusement park/fairground feel to it. There were many more rides and a lot more fair food, but less music.

Shoutouts must be given to the other fans we met up with, in particular Kate, Helen, Robin, Angela, Angela’s mom Venus, and Angela’s grandmother as well (whose name I didn’t catch, sorry about that). Several of us all took time to go see the Superdogs show before GBS went on stage, and that was fun. Lots of acrobatic stunts with very cleverly trained dogs, and it gave us at least something else to spend our fair admission on. Which was $16 at the gate–and which also made it by far the cheapest ticket I’ve had to a GBS show in quite some time.

We nommed fair food for dinner, and as we were in fact in Canada, I naturally had to have poutine. Because nom. I have no idea who invented poutine, but my hat is off to whatever enterprising soul first decided that fries + gravy + squeakycheese = nom. And before we got into the show space, I amused myself buying a ten-dollar light-up toy that spun little colored bulbs on threads, thinking it’d be fun to have that during the show.

The show was outdoors, in a nice large ampitheater space, and we ducked in fairly early so that Geri and Rob could claim their seats in the reserved area and Dara and I could get as far forward in the GA area as possible. That let us also of course see superfan Lynda (I do always spot her at the concerts), and greetings were exchanged! This was the first time as well that I’d been at a GBS show large enough and in an appropriate space for using jumbotrons. There were two of them, one to either side of the stage, and all throughout the show they kept alternating between showing the band members and showing people in the audience.

Naturally, Dara and I had our Cascadia flag! We had great fun waving that around, and Geri was startled to note that my pink shorts, taken together with the blue, green, and white of the Cascadia flag, actually made for very Newfoundland-friendly colors. I noted wryly that I had not in fact done that on purpose. But yeah, the Cascadia flag? Very Newfoundland-friendly colors. And Dara and I in fact were mistaken for Newfoundlanders by the girls behind us!

Round about 8:30, the show got underway! It was a single set show, and very tight and fast–not entirely without banter, but less rambly than some shows I’ve been to. I didn’t get any pictures since we were outdoors in the dark, and I’m not good at getting shots under those conditions. Dara did however get several nice shots, which you can find at her flickr page over here.

Alan in particular was rocking his bearded look, as he often does when he’s about to do another stint on Republic of Doyle or is just coming off of one:

Also, the light show was REALLY awesome!

And now, the Set List!

  • Ordinary Day
  • Donkey Riding
  • When I’m Up
  • Heart of Hearts
  • The Night Pat Murphy Died
  • Goin’ Up
  • England
  • Beat the Drum
  • When I am King
  • Safe Upon the Shore
  • Scolding Wife
  • I’m a Rover
  • Let My Love Open the Door
  • Sea of No Cares
  • Helmethead
  • Consequence Free
  • Mari-Mac
  • Run Run Away
  • Encore #1: Live This Life / Old Black Rum
  • Encore #2: Wave Over Wave

“Paddy Murphy” was the first big bit of amusing banter. Séan did the intro with “Alan got a little bit drunk / and Bob got a little wet! As long as a bottle was passed around, Murray Foster was feeling…” Then he trailed off meaningfully, getting the audience to roar “GAY!” This took a couple tries, in fact–and Séan got a huge cheer by adding, “We’re not in Russia, it’s OKAY!”

And I am chagrined to note that I TOTALLY missed that Bob sauntered over and laid one on Murray at that point because I was frantically typing notes into my phone. DARA, however, caught it and suitably lost it laughing! “Paddy Murphy” also, according to Kate, had our first indicator that the B’ys were dropping hints about where they’d be after the show–since they referenced the Railway!

ETA: I am informed that it was actually Séan who went over to smooch Murray. Either way: HA!

It was after “Beat the Drum” that Alan went into a lament about jet lag, remarking, “I myself woke up at 5:15!” Dara, at that point, yelled “SO DID WE!” And trust me when I say that Dara is in a position to understand that usually, when a musician sees an hour that stupidly early, it’s from the other direction.

Alan added that he went for a run in Stanley Park, where he ran into Séan–and Séan said that he loved Stanley Park, and that everybody is beautiful there. Even Alan. LOL. He then went off into an improv on “New Moon”, and Alan informed the audience that they did in fact have the day off tomorrow, with the unforgiving checkout time of noon. Another big indicator that “yes, we will in fact be on the loose after the show”.

I must also specifically call out “Safe Upon the Shore” for DEAR GOD DEATH BY HARMONY. We didn’t get “General Taylor” or “River Driver” this time, but whenever they unleash “Safe Upon the Shore”, I’m OKAY WITH THAT. This time around they nailed it beautifully and I kept having to brace for the impact of the choruses. They were shiver-inducingly glorious. That said, Dara and I still kept giggling and going “BRAAAAAAAAAAINS” at one another given that this whole song is about a corpse.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: “Scolding Wife” is huge fun, and Dara and I had fun with our arms around one another singing this. I in particular let out with “Ahh, she’d sell me to the devil for a glass or two of VODKA!”

“I’m a Rover” was the point in the concert where Alan let out his funniest bits during the whole show–by looking up at the biggest and most notable ride within view of the stage, one of those ones that’s a great big whirling arm with two cars on either end. Alan took a look at that thing and told the audience it’d just then occurred to him that JAYSUS THERE ARE ACTUAL HUMAN BEINGS IN THAT! And that it was kind of freaking him out!

This song also got a wry little mention of Bob in the last verse as well: “we both shook hands and embraced his fiddle!” Muaha. It’s okay to love your fiddle. You might not however want to LOVE your fiddle. >:D

Leading into “Sea of No Cares” (the slow version, which is how they’ve been doing the song at the last several shows I’ve attended), Alan made cracks about their first show in Vancouver being back in 1956. Which always makes me giggle, since it totally reminds me of Elvis making jokes about HIS first shows being in 1912. And after SoNC, Alan joked further about the west coast always surprising the band since “people go in the ocean recreationally here!” At which point Séan joked that that isn’t ALL they do recreationally here.

After that they pretty much charged through the rest of the set non-stop. And I was stunned, STUNNED I TELL YOU, that we didn’t actually get “Excursion Around the Bay”! But I did love hearing “Wave Over Wave” again, and in particular pointing out to Dara how Murray’s been breaking out a bouzouki for this song. And I liked pointing out to her as well that both Alan and Bob had their own bouzoukis for “Live This Life”. Because all things are made better with bouzoukis, including Great Big Sea encores.

After the show Dara and I sadly had to bow out of the attempt to head to the Railway, since Geri and Rob were our ride and they weren’t up for it. But we did fetch tasty Siegels bagels on the way back to Burnaby, and we drank cider, and that was a lovely close to the evening! I’m told that the B’ys did in fact show up at the Railway, and so next time I hit a GBS show in Vancouver, there will have to be a bit more judicious planning for possible post-show shenanigans. (Because I need me a pic of me and Alan and Jean-Claude the mammoth. I DO! >:D)

Further edits will happen to this post if anybody points me at publicly linkable pictures or videos!

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