This past Saturday was my second Great Big Sea show of the year, and stands out for being the first time I’ve ever seen them in the Admiral Theater in Bremerton–which is very possibly the most aptly decorated theater for a GBS show it’s ever been my pleasure to visit. And since this was in Bremerton, , , and I actually went over and back on the ferry, which was kind of fun!
Picoreview of the show itself: the crowd was fairly heavily laced with GBS regulars, but there was also a big presence of older folks who were clearly not part of the fanbase. The B’ys were in high spirits, though, and highlights of the show include Séan discovering Cosmos, two brand new songs, a rendition of “Gallows Pole” that knocked me nearly dead, and “Old Brown’s Daughter” coming back to finish me off.
Let’s do this thing then!
So like I said, the show being in Bremerton meant needing to come over on the ferry. This took some juggling of logistics just because of needing to coordinate car pooling and which ferry to shoot for. came to my place and we zipped down to pick up , and we met up with on the actual boat. We had some debate about what to do with the car, as initially I had thought it would be dumb to take a car across given the proximity of the theater to the ferry terminal. Turned out to be the correct decision; the weather got foul on the way across the water, and by the time I drove off the boat and into Bremerton, the rain was coming down in sheets.
(Though I do note that the tunnel that led up into the streets from the ferry terminal was decorated with this lovely mural of a treeline, which must have been only recently put in since it had no dinginess from traffic exhaust, or else it’s been recently seriously cleaned. Either way it looked really nice, so that was one benefit of being in the car. Wouldn’t have seen that on foot.)
Dinner was had at Anthony’s right on the water, which was delightfully apt with the seafood and the lighting designed to look like crabs and salmon. There were a few other folks heading to the show there as well; I distinctly heard the magic words ‘Great Big Sea’ from the next table. Tasty food and good conversation were had by all, although Meems and I took it light on the dinner since neither of us were very hungry–and I didn’t want to load up on a big meal with Vertical Movement imminent! Props must be given to that apple crumble dessert Meems got, though, as well as the clam chowder. Try either of those, people, if you happen to go into an Anthony’s, I’m telling you!
After that we scampered on over to the theater. Despite the fact that it was early Saturday evening, there was hardly anyone out on the streets; I don’t know if this is because it was Bremerton, pouring down sheets of rain, or both. Parking was trivially easy, and we scored a place on the street just a short walk from the venue.
The place in question is the Admiral Theatre, and like I said above, I have never set foot in a venue that was more appropriately decorated for a Great Big Sea concert. Lovely aquatic art murals decorated the walls, with mermaids prominent near the stage, but with lots of other sea creatures visible as well. in particular was impressed, since she’s a muralist and she heavily favors aquatic art. So I let her have my iPhone and she wandered around for a bit before the show, taking pictures. Here’s one!
And here’s one of some of the other sea life on the walls:
Speaking of fishies, I should note that I actually saw one of my coworkers in the theater! How awesome is it that I work at a place where multiple people have not only recognized the name of Great Big Sea when I mention it, but a couple of them even go to the shows? This particular coworker of mine was up in the balcony with a larger party than mine, but he spotted me from above and waved down. Yay!
Meems and Glenn and I also all had to make a strike on the swag table, because I was bound and determined to not get out of this event without swag. This time around though Mimi and I had a perfectly delightful conversation with the gentleman running the table–who I should probably damn well recognize by now, with all of the times I’ve attended a GBS show, but I sadly do not know his name. I very carefully ordered myself to not squee over his accent, but oh the lovely rhythms of his Newfoundland brogue. Pretty. <3 We yakked about T-shirt designs, and he asked Mimi and me about which of the designs we liked; Mimi is fond of the Fortune's Favour shirt she got with the octopus in front and the flying cards on the back, so we told this gentleman that we were in general strongly in favor of shirts with small designs in front and larger ones on the back side.
I wound up getting a simple one, though, the one with the string-figure "Great Big Sea" design, since it was in light blue and I didn't have that one yet. And I also made a point of telling the swag table gentleman that Mimi was the one who'd pointed me in Great Big Sea's direction in the first place, and he thanked us and said it was folks like us spreading the love that kept people coming back for more. <3 Lovely, lovely conversation all around.
Back in with our l00t, we parked our stuff at our table–A7, which, sadly, did not actually turn out to be front row as I was hoping, but which was still pretty damn close to the stage nonetheless. We were approximately Stage Murray, with a very fine vantage point. And it should surprise absolutely none of you that I spent no more time at this table than absolutely necessary. 😉 It was very, very weird being at a GBS show that involved tables, and between that and a good chunk of the crowd being clearly older than is average for a GBS crowd, it was clear that this was a new venue for them because a significant portion of the audience didn't Get It. This was the only weird note of the entire evening; see more on this below.
I had the pleasure of one of the OKPers coming up to say hi with her husband, too. She pegged me by my hat and came up and said, "Are you Anna the Piper?" (And even turned to her husband and said, "She writes books!" Aw gawrsh. I think that's the first time anybody's done that around me! But I digress. *^_^*;;) Lattlelady63, if you're reading this, this is my shout-out to you!
We had no opening act, but we did have a theater staffer who came up on stage to do a little introduction. This gentleman read us a few choice quotes from the press material the venue had gotten from the B'ys' agent, such as "devoted fanbase", "audience knew all the words to every song", and "audience on their feet during the entire show". That guy, at least, clearly knew what was coming.
And when the chords to "Donkey Riding" started up, so did we!
First and foremost, the Set List of Squee, Set 1:
- Donkey Riding
- Captain Kidd
- Love Me Tonight
- The Night Pat Murphy Died
- When I’m Up
- “Something’s Happening Here”
- Jack Hinks
- Gideon Brown
- Good People
- River Driver
- Here and Now
- Nothing But a Song
- Singalong: I Fought the Law/Faith/500 Miles/Bohemian Rhapsody
- Run Run Away
Only a few measures in on “Donkey Riding”, Mimi looked back at me and gestured inquiringly at the stage, a motion that needed absolutely no interpretation–because HELL YES I wanted to be up by the stage. A few people had already beaten us up there, but we scampered up there anyway and got pretty much at Stage Alan. A security guy instructed us to keep a certain distance away from the stage, but that was fine, because we were at our Fangirl Duty Stations, so it was all good. 😉 In fact, I wound up right next to Lynda Elstad, busily taking video, and she blinked and realized I was beside her when she heard me singing at the top of my lungs. Whee!
So yeah. The B’ys were all looking fine, but Alan in particular was looking spectacular. A summer of strenuous physical activity making a movie looks really, really good on him. I’ll even tolerate the beard after getting a look at the state of those bouzouki-playin’ arms. <3
(And okay, yeah yeah yeah he has a guitar here, but this was the best Mimi did with my iPhone! Not the best device for taking pictures in concert-light conditions, I'm afraid. Still, this one came out nicely.)
Alan apparently thought this feeling was mutual, since right after song #2, “Captain Kidd”, he told us all, “You’re looking really good!”
“Love Me Tonight” was third, and it seems to have secured itself a solid place as a concert staple. I approve. Right after it, somebody in the audience yelled “SING IT” as Séan was introduced. The McCann was game, and he grinned and deadpanned, “Oh, I’m gonna sing it.” A running gag got started here as well about Alan eating a pomegranate backstage, and the inevitable joke about how he’s about to find out what eating pomegranates means. Har! Not quite what one has in mind when one thinks of Persephone, but hey, Hades might be swinging both ways these days. :>
It’s also well worth noting that Séan was also looking very fine! Conservative hair by his standards, and a positively subdued dark red v-neck sweater. Which is really rather fine by me; I like him far better with conservative hair! Sadly though, for you Shantyfen reading this (I’m looking at you, ), neither Mimi nor I scored a proper picture of him.
Heading into “When I’m Up”, Alan started in on the intro and threw himself off a bit snickering on “I am the fountain of affection!” He blinked a bit too as Mimi, right beside me, sailed right on into “I’m the instrument of joy!” This was actually the first of a few times Mimi got him to react to her!
Coming out of that song, we had a very high-spirited Séan start improvising on “Something’s Happening Here”, and people yelling for “Old Black Rum”. Séan reached down at this point, grabbed the set list at his feet, crumpled it up, and winged it backstage! Very lulzy. It would have been amusing if they’d completely gone random at that point, but no such luck. Darn. 😉
Alan next exhorted us to “get this party started!” and rolled right into the hard rhythmic intro line for “Jack Hinks”. After that, he and Séan remarked quite favorably upon the venue was “an interesting place” and how they were always made to feel so welcome in Washington. Which went over well with us all, of course. <3 It was also at this point in the show that a remark of Séan's I didn't quite catch prompted what turned into a huge running gag for the rest of the show–and all because Mimi yelled, "A COSMO'S A GIRLY DRINK!"
Alan caught that first and called it over to Séan, who got this very wry look on his face, lifted his chin all firm-like, and announced that he would have a Cosmo. And wondered if they'd bring him one up on the stage! Which was, I must say, a hell of an intro for "England", as Lynda to my left turned to me and remarked. Muahaha.
"England", though, was very lovely and I noticed for the very first time, being so close to Alan as I hadn't been for several shows, that he was capoed up five on the bouzouki. I don't know the key yet for the song but it sounds like an odd one for GBS; I'll need to see if I can nail that down. Also: Bob's whistle solo was absolutely gorgeous.
After "England" we had another great bit of banter, as the B'ys proclaimed this "the perfect gig" and that the venue was "built for us!" Clearly they were as fond of the art as Mimi and I were, enough that Séan even suggested that they could make the place their new home base (which ALSO went over very well with the crowd), and that they could become the Travelling Musicians of Bremerton.
Kris got in a bawdy remark here I didn't catch, but which prompted Alan to wryly tell the audience that "Kris doesn't drink, so he makes up for it with filth". Chortle.
And, and, Séan got his Cosmo! A theater staffer brought it up on stage for him, very formally presented on a little tray and everything. That was hysterical, especially since he and Alan both proceeded to take swigs off this thing through the next several songs, and both had these great OMG expressions when they realized how much alcohol was in one. Séan started warbling “I feel pretty! Oh so pretty!” and told us all that he now understood why all the women in Sex in the City were always drinking Cosmos. Alan’s remark on the matter was a pithy and succinct “Jesus Christ!”
None of which had a damn thing to do with the next song, which was “Gideon Brown”, but they laughingly headed into it anyway. 😉 And after that we got the first of two new songs that were introduced as ones that were going to appear on the new forthcoming album. This one was called “Good People”, and was one of Séan’s; I’m not sure if I like this one quite yet as it’s more country-flavored than I like out of the B’ys. But it may grow on me in time. Some banter mileage came out of it too, with cracks about almost singing “good pizza is hard to find”–which made Mimi and me both yell “NOT IN WASHINGTON!” And Séan joked about how good people have Cosmos.
This was where Alan actually swiped the Cosmo from Séan, too, and they kept at this for a bit until Alan finally returned to the mike and tried to get going on the intro for the next song. Mimi called out encouragingly, “FOCUS!” Alan actually snickered at that and thanked her, and said he needed a little help sometimes! 😉 Hee hee hee. And after all of that, the next song?
“River Driver”. *thud* Oh god, Alan sounded beautiful. About on par with how he belted this out in Vancouver, only this time I was much closer to him singing it and, well, yum.
Next was “Here and Now”, and you’d think that after standing up by the stage through most of the set, I’d have noticed before this point that they had video LEDs up around the stage. But this was in fact the first time I noticed them. Hands up if you already figured out that this was because The Doyle was RIGHT THERE and that I was lucky to see anything else at all on the stage, up to and including the other members of the band.
I mention the LEDs, though, because they were used to extremely good effect in the next song, another new one, “Nothing But a Song”. This one was a joint Alan/Séan effort, and I could see Alan’s hand in the lyrics. The bridge, though–man. All five of the B’ys hit this fierce, high, sustained harmony and as they hit that chord, the LEDs all went PANG and the light was suddenly brighter. Very, very well done there, lighting guy. I can’t wait to hear this on the album, and I thought at the time, “Well, this is going to be one of the singles.”
I’m pretty sure this shot of Mimi’s was during the bridge of “Nothing But a Song”. Action B’ys!
It was my turn to yell at Alan next, though, as he challenged the audience about whether we were up for some singing. I called out, “BRING IT!” And yea and verily, he brought it, starting up the traditional GBS Concert Audience Singalong Medley: “I Fought the Law”, “Faith”, “500 Miles”, and last but not least, “Bohemian Rhapsody”. We had great fun with this last, as Alan really got into it and started splitting the audience up into sections to get a multi-layered thing going. To my amusement, afterwards, Lynda turned to me and said she’d specifically taken video during the singalong because Mimi and I were beside her, and she knew she’d get good singing! Yay! I think she got more of Mimi singing than me, though, since I was fast running out of breath at that point and couldn’t sustain myself for more than a few lines at a time.
After that we got “Run Run Away”–and the end of the first set.
Mimi and I tried to resume our Fangirl Duty Stations when the lights came down for Set #2, only to have the security guy tell us he’d gotten a couple of complaints, so he needed us to hold back to the sides if we wanted to stand up. Well, THAT was no fun, since our viewing angle from off on the side would have been worse than at our table, so we retreated to our table. Not that either of us sat down much, though. I occasionally sat down for the slower numbers and one or two times when others right around behind me were not standing either, and I was a little self-conscious about blocking views. But as the set progressed and the audience unbent, more and more of us stood, and everybody was on their feet by the end. And all was Right With the World.
Here’s the list for Set #2!
- The Chemical Worker’s Song
- Captain Wedderburn
- “Happy Birthday”
- When I Am King
- General Taylor
- Scolding Wife
- Everything Shines
- “Starin’ Up”
- Gallows Pole
- Consequence Free
- Ordinary Day
- Encore: Clearest Indication/Excursion Around the Bay/Fortune/Old Brown’s Daughter
The instrumental was fun, starting off with Alan and Séan, then bringing in Bob, and finally Kris and Murray. As with the previous recent shows, I recognized the bit that comes out of the recording of “Tishialuk Girl’s Set”, but not the rest of it. I really need to find out what those other bits are. Nice bodhran on the part of Séan here.
And nice bodhran as well segueing right into “The Chemical Worker’s Song” oh my yes. Very, very happy this has rejoined the set lists for recent shows, since this is a favorite at the Murkworks for jams. “Captain Wedderburn” was a nice contrast to this and was one of the few times I actually sat down during this set, while I was frantically scribbling notes in my Moleskine notebook. (And trying not to lose the cap of my pen, which I did actually eventually lose! Aigh.)
Someone else in the audience got the band’s attention at this point, and it was announced that it was Amy’s birthday! Alan led us all in singing “Happy Birthday” to her, which was nice. <3
"When I am King" was next, with a fairly minimal intro as intros for this song (and for this concert in particular, given what came later) go. After that, "General Taylor", and a fine, fine final verse on that too with the harmony and the rumbly Murray and the man, these boys do sound well together, don't they?
Next up: "Scolding Wife". I distinctly heard Mimi shout her approval of this one, hee! Notable fun during this song was Alan and Séan both wandering over to Murray during the bridge and practically stacking instruments on his head as they kept playing away. Also, Séan's verse featured the singer lamenting about how the Scolding Wife "caught me by the Cosmo".
After the song was over I got in another yell at Alan! He told us that song was from "… one of the older records”, and I helpfully bellowed, “SEA OF NO CARES!” He blinketyblinked, and promptly replied, “Sea of No Cares? One of the greatest records ever recorded!” I’m pretty sure that’s what he said when the album first came out, too. Hee.
“Everything Shines” came after that, and then, more calls for “Old Black Rum”. This prompted Alan to call back, “We’re from a sailing town in Atlantic Canada, where in God’s name would we get RUM?”
This got us quite a bit of banter and time-killing, though, as Séan made a big show of faking us RIGHT OUT by making us think he was about to sing us a song about a “very harsh topic, a detailed and horrific event. Kind of about rum. Except not really. It’s about HOCKEY!” Which of course took us right into “Helmethead”. I happened to notice that at the end of this one, Bob pitched his pick into the audience; I hope some lucky Bob fan over on the other side caught it!
We got “Gallows Pole” after this, and I’ve got to say, Séan ate this song ALIVE. It was AMAZING. He roared out the lyrics with a ferocity we rarely hear out of him, and really, the whole thing came together with the music and the lighting into one great big package of awesome. Alan said something afterwards about this being on the new album, I think? I’m really hoping so, since having it as an extra for Fortune’s Favour was nice and all, but it really deserves a real place on an album, with live performances like this. Folks outside the regular OKP contingent need to hear this song.
Much, much laughter after though as Séan lamented that Bob was going to spank him. But hopefully not in the Batman suit. I now pause for a moment to let the Bob fans reading this bring to mind the thought of Bob wearing a Batman suit. Can’t you just hear him growling “I’M BATMAN”? G’wan, you know you can. (Now imagine the Batman suit with an accordion!)
And, unsurprisingly, we finished out the formal set with the expected mighty closers: “Consequence Free”, “Mari-Mac”, and “Ordinary Day”. I happened to notice snippets of the “Mari-Mac” video up on the LEDs during that song, which was pretty neat and meta; I liked the effect of seeing the older video of the B’ys behind the live B’ys themselves. Naturally as well everybody was on their feet and roaring by the time “Ordinary Day” rolled around.
We only got the one encore, but oh what an encore it was, with arguably the longest and best banter I’ve had the pleasure to giggle over at any recent GBS show. Alan extolled Newfoundland as “Canada’s version of Hawaii” and even added that Newfoundland had almost joined America! “You were number two!” He and Séan then opined that they could have joined Washington: “We have the same weather!”
There was a whole lot more banter about the Cosmos, and Alan in fact whipped up an impromptu ditty about a girl named Cosmo, and got us all singing “Ohhhhh Cosmo!” With extra bonus lines about “good pizza isn’t hard to find”. And extra, extra bonus lines from me, at least, about “… in Washington!” 😉 This fit in nicely with Alan also telling us that Great Big Sea was 17 years old as of this year: almost old enough to drink!
Much amusement was had once Alan announced that there was a contingent from Newfoundland in the house. So we gave it up for the Newfoundlanders, which prompted someone else to yell, “Australia!” So we gave it up for the Aussies, too! Alan grinned and proceeded to rattle off several more random countries, getting cheers from various points in the audience: Malta! The Swiss! Singapore! “It’s the United Nations!” said Séan. “Let’s make love!” said Alan. Dangerous proposition there, Doyle. ;>
A-hem, anyway, the Newfoundlander contingent got another shout-out though as we went into “Fortune”–Alan told them to show us all how it was done as he urged us all to get up and dance. Go, Newfoundlanders!
“What a night!” Alan enthused at us after all that fun. “I’m going to tell the world about Washington. And I’ll use words like ‘dandy’!”
Last, but oh my no most assuredly not least at all, we got “Old Brown’s Daughter.” And I’m here to tell you, it was only with heroic, yea, titanic effort that I clamped down on the squee threatening to erupt right out of my little fangirl mouth at the sound of those five gentlemen all lined up right there at the front of the stage, harmonizing their hearts out. I did not explode from the effort to contain the squee. But I came awfully damn close.
And that, my children, was a beautiful way to end a beautiful show. The glow of it carried us all the way back across the water to Seattle proper, and not even some perfectly godawful rain could dent it. Well done, B’ys. Well done indeed.