Elton John – Rocket Man, Rocks Victoria

Elton John – Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena – February 15, 2011

Elton John kicked off his North American tour with his only Canadian dates and first ever visit to Victoria.  The back to back shows filled Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena with 16,000 fans over the two night, the largest crowds the 6 year old venue has experienced.  The buzz was definitely good for local business as many, like myself, came from out of town to catch the ‘Rocket Man’ perform his 45+ years of hits. 
And did he ever perform…3hours of non-stop hits! Elton sat down at the piano exactly at 8pm and belted out hits until 1059 (a City noise ordinance means concert events must end at 11pm).  His voice hasn’t seemed to have changed at all over the decades and still maintains the tone and strength to make each hit sound as familiar as ever.  The sound in the Save-On centre was outstanding as well, I’d heard that the building had good acoustics but this was even better than expected.  I’m sure the experience of 40 years of touring, many with the same band members, helps the songs sound perfect time after time. 
This tour is in support of “The Union” Elton’s new album with American singer-songwriter Leon Russell. The concert features many songs from the album but although these were the first time the band was performing them live they sounded so familiar and tight they fit right into the set without missing a beat. 
As the 2.5 hour mark approached, the hits rolled on and the audience was on it’s feet dancing for The Bitch Is Back, I’m Still Standing and finally Crocodile Rock (featured in the new Elton John produced film; Gnomeo & Juliet) wrapped up the main set.  After a quick minute break (the only one of the show) the band returned as Elton took the time to acknowledge the fans, spending a few minutes signing CDs, programs, t-shirts, even a glittery shoe.  To close the show the encore began with the 41 year old Your Song…sounding as fresh as ever…and finally Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me wrapped up a remarkable evening of music by a consummate performer.  

Now is the time to catch Elton as he tours across the USA
Upcoming shows include:

Feb 17  – Eugene, OR
Feb 19  – Reno, NV
Feb 24  – Kahului, HI
Feb 25  – Kahului, HI
Mar 11  – Uncasville, CT
Mar 12  – Worcester, MA
Mar 16  – New York, NY
Mar 18  – Norfolk, VA
Mar 20  – New York, NY
Mar 23  – Pittsburgh, PA
Mar 25  – Philadelphia, PA
Mar 26  – Baltimore, MD 
Mar 27  – University Park, PA
Apr 06  – Bismarck, ND
Apr 08  – Spokane, WA
Apr 09  – Boise, ID
Apr 10  – Billings, MT
Apr 22  – Wilkes-Barre, PA
Apr 23  – Rochester, NY
May 06  – Duluth, MN

2010 Olympic Memories

From February 12 – 28, 2010 Vancouver welcomed the world but more importantly woke up to the world and became a global city! The 2010 Winter Olympic Games finally arrived in Vancouver after a decade of pitches, plebiscites, planning, building, protests, decorating and some more protests.

In typical Vancouver fashion the very vocal naysayers seemed to have the ears and eyes of the public while the organizing committee went about their business.  Economic boom years at the start of the process gave way to an unprecedented economic bust right at the eleventh hour…sponsors went bankrupt, builders financing collapsed, income dropped & unemployment skyrocketed.  Were the Games in trouble? They weren’t in the financial shape they’d hoped to be but the committee persevered, they’d come this far…the finish line was in site
[cincopa AsNAxfKiQ2rF]
By the time the Olympic Torch completed it’s epic journey along the longest relay in history, none of the ‘issues’ mattered…this was The Olympics and judging by the spontaneous euphoria that the people of Vancouver displayed they were in need of a party! Party they did…every moment for 17 amazing days thousands poured into downtown Vancouver! The pavilions were lined up with crowds wanting to catch a glimpse of the Olympic Medals at the Royal Canadian Mint or watch a concert at LiveCity Yaletown or even just enjoy the camaraderie of having a beer and watching the game on a big screen in Celtic House.

After years of being “No-Fun” Vancouver and being wary of congregating in large groups the populous had had enough and they got their wanted to show that it was indeed OK to have fun and enjoy the moment. Never in Olympic, and certainly not in Vancouver’s, history had there been such an exuberant display of national and civic pride!

Those who left town or stayed away realized they missed out, those who participated will never forget and everyone now knows that Vancouver, has what it takes to be a World Class City.

What were your favourite memories of the Games?

As we celebrate the one year anniversary of the 2010 Games, relive your memories with lots of activities throughout Vancouver. Check out where to “Share the Spirit” this weekend by visiting the City Of Vancouver website

Chromeo – Chro-meee-oh-oooh-oh!

Chromeo – Commodore Ballroom – February 10, 2011

ChromeoI’ve seen very few bands that can built such positive energy in a crowd without even being on stage. Such is the anticipation the audience feels as they prepare for a Chromeo show…before the band is on stage (perhaps not even in the building) the crowd was super energized; on their feet, buzzing and dancing.

As the Montreal duo of P-Thug and Dave 1 enter the stage to chants of Chro-mee-oh-oooh-oh! The show gets right into the swing of things with a flash from the brilliant light show…no gradual build up here…getting everyone dancing immediately was clearly the aim.  The audience was participating to its fullest, luckily the sprung dance-floor in the Commodore Ballroom there to rebound the sold out crowds boundless energy as they danced and bounced along to every moment of the show. Fists were pumping, butts were shaking and heads were bopping as the band tore through their catalogue of retro infused electro-pop hits for a fun filled 80minute set.

Since their last visit to Vancouver 6 months ago they’ve enjoyed mainstream success and

Dave 1 - lead vocals, keyboard, guitar

airplay with the single “Hot Mess” from their 3rd album “Business Casual”.  This success has brought with is a new fan base that was evident tonight as the audience was far more varied than the gig half a year ago, when they were the secret passion of a smaller demographic.  Having many of the audience new to the band added to the excitement and anticipation as the crowds mixed and melted in to a pot of delicious dance music.

P-Thug - keyboard, synthisizer, guitar and vocals

August: Osage County

August: Osage County – Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage – February 8, 2011

August:Osage CountyOne hot summer meltdown (literally & figuratively) in the life of the Weston Family is portrayed in this Tony award winning play by Tracy Letts.   The story plays out over the course of a swelteringly hot summer in the American South as a large family gathers to deal with love, loss, betrayal and intrigue. Throw in a dash of drugs and drinking to this perfect recipe of dark comedic family angst.

Directed for the Arts Club Theatre Company by award winning director/actress Janet Wright (Corner Gas) this production features a large ensemble of seasoned actors who bring this family to life…larger than life at times.  The two female leads bring some truly scenery chewing moments to the stage in the, often loud, battle of wits between matriarch and eldest daughter.  A couple of the characters seemed a bit underwhelming in the shadow of the great force of the leads but overall the cast was solid throughout.  The amazing set, bringing an entire three story house on to the stage, was almost another character as the family’s sense of ‘home’ was questioned throughout the play. Without the solid set to ground the play in reality it may have slipped closer to being a farce. Instead we get to peak into this family’s dramatic unravelling and feel for the characters instead of just laughing at them…although there are many moments of dark laughter throughout the memorable 3 hour performance.

If you are able to see this play live do it now, then you have something to compare the inevitable film version.   You can very much see this play being perfect for a screen adaptation and a movie version is in development.  The latest news is Meryl Streep and Julie Roberts are due to begin filming in March 2011. Let’s wait and see!

Andrew Allen : New Artist On Tour

I have the good fortune to see a lot of artists and bands perform live many of them are new me and along the way there are some hits and misses.
One of the recent hits is Andrew Allen; a relatively new independant artist who is presently on the road touring in support of a forthcoming spring major-label album release.  While he is a unique artist in his own right, Andrew’s witty and energetic performance style is like a perfect hybrid of Jason Mraz, Jack Johnson and John Mayer.
Like many the first introduction to an Andrew Allen song was his stunning soulful single “Amazing” played during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Since then he’s gone from strength to strength as his independently released EPs have lead to signing with EPIC Records, meaning a full length album is now in production. If the lead single “Loving You Tonight” is anything to go by, I’m looking forward to a feel good album.
Now on tour with Joshua Radin and Justin Nozuka throughout the U.S. and Canada if the show makes a stop in your town, please get out and catch it…you’ll be in for a treat!

Upcoming Tour Dates:
2/7 – Plaza Theater – Orlando, FL
2/8 – State Theatre – Tampa, FL
2/9 – Workplay – Birmingham, AL
2/11 – Jefferson Theatre – Charlottesville, VA
2/12 – HOB – Boston, MA
2/14 – Trocadero – Philadelphia, PA
2/15 – 9:30 Club – Washington, DC

Vancouver Chinatown Spring Festival Parade

Thousands of specators braved the rain to line the streets of Chinatown to watch the Chinese New Year Parade and help usher in the Year of the Rabbit.
Featuring the largest assembly of traditional Lion Dance teams in Canada, the Parade winds its way through Pender, Main and Keefer Streets in the heart of Vancouver’s Chinatown.  Organized by various Chinatown community organizations the whole parade has a very community vs commercial feel to it. Full of cultural spectacles and tradition; Lion Dancers, Flag Troupes, Family Benevolent Societies and Martial Arts teams.
Corporate entries are few and do not have the flashy, big budget entries as in other Vancouver parades. It’s great to see all ages participate in the parade, young cadets and junior lion dancers are marching and dancing along side troupes of seniors waving flags or performing traditional dances. 
While it may not build the same anticipation as having a man in a Red Suit wrapping it up like the Santa Claus parade this event has plenty of sights and sounds to entertain the family.  Firecrackers, colourful banners, flags and costumes compete with the vibrant Lion and Dragon costumes. The estimated crowd of 50,000 keeps the whole of Chinatown a buzz, even after the parade finishes, as the shops and attractions like Dr Sun Yat Sen Gardens and Park feature special events and activities.

Avenue Q – On Tour

Avenue Q : The Musical – The Centre in Vancouver – February 1, 2011

The touring production of the long running Broadway and Off-Broadway hit has made its way to Vancouver for 6 shows only.  Opening tonight and running until Saturday February 5th (playing nightly plus matinee on Saturday) I highly recommend checking it out.

Set in a New York City where puppets and people live together in perfect harmony…ok, so at times not so harmoniously…in an apartment building on Avenue Q.  The tenants cover all walks of life; humans Brian and his Japanese fiancée Christmas Eve, Kate Monster (a puppet), Roommate puppets Rod & Nicky, Trekkie Monster (a bit of a reclusive porn addict) and newcomer Princeton (a fresh-faced college graduate puppet).  Watching over the tenants is Superintendent Gary Coleman, of Different Strokes child actor fame.  This character was presumably intended to mock the plight of the child star but since his passing has become more of homage.

Hilarious music and lyrics along with some ‘full puppet nudity’ lift this musical about real-life situations into an extraordinary fun filled two hours. You’ll never look at puppets the same way again!

Although this opening night production had a couple of small technical glitches it’s still very worth seeing…try to catch this unique musical before it’s gone.  Look for tickets from The Centre In Vancouver online.