GORILLAZ – Rogers Arena – November 3, 2010 Formed in 1998 as a side project for Blur frontman Damon Albarn and British cartoonist Jamie Hewlett (of Tank Girl fame), Gorillaz has up to now existed mostly in a two dimensional plane. When it comes to touring…one wonders how a ‘virtual band’ will translate to the live concert stage. Well wonder no more…they translate brilliantly! At Roger’s Arena in Vancouver tonight, Damon and crew wrapped up an 18 date North American tour! An amazing combination of great sounds and video came to life in front of us…beginning with ‘Welcome to the World of Plastic Beach’ featuring Snoop Dogg on video backed up by a 24 piece band/orchestra. This set us up for a night of endlessly great sounds and video. The animated Gorillaz past & present; 2D, Murdoc, Noodles, Russel Hobbs and Cyborg Noodle were visually presented above the stage on which Damon and an amazing line up of collaborators and musicians mesmerized us with stunningly (for Rogers Arena) good audio. Other guests in the videos included Bruce Willis and the voice of Malcolm McDowell. In addition to Damon Albarn ‘live’ members of Gorillaz include (one half of The Clash) Mick Jones and Paul Simonon. They were joined on stage throughout the evening by the Legendary Bobby Womack, Pharcyde’s Bootie Brown, De La Soul, Yukimi Nagano from Little Dragon and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, at times up to 26 people were packed onto the stage. The 75 minute set was over far too fast but packed in an amazing feast for the eyes and ears…definitely left the audience hungry for more!
Tonight a good friend invited a bunch of us to check out his new band, The Tabloids. They were playing their first showcase in front at The Yale Hotel.
Having heard same friend’s previous band on occasion, most recently also at The Yale, I had a direct comparison to tonights act. The Tabloids certainly impressed us! For only recently assembling, they were incredibly tight and really worked well together. At first we thought the couple of female singers were superfluous to needs but we soon warmed up as one of them belted out her part of “Under Pressure”. All the songs in The Tabloids repertoire are of British decent and they really suited the two lead singers as well as the harmonies of the four singers. Partly because of the material, but mostly because of the product they were laying down on the stage the 45 minute set flew by in an instant. I would heartily recommend we return to see their next gig.
Even though some amazing R & B legends have graced their iconic stage one of the best things about The Yale is it’s still support of new, music and bands. The home of Rythm & Blues for decades The Yale is one of the few that has refreshingly not become a ‘hipster’ hangout…it’s still a iconic tavern, showcasing great music for people of all ages and demographics. The Yale is a valuable piece of downtown Vancouver’s entertainment scene.
I hope The Tabloids also become a valuable piece of Vancouver’s entertainment scene too. If they last a tenth as long as the century old fixture on Granville Street they will be doing alright for themselves!
KT TUNSTALL – COMMODORE BALLROOM – November 1, 2010
There’s a ‘Rock Chick’ hiding behind the folksy pop singles we usually hear from KT Tunstall and on tour she breaks free! Unencumbered by the need to appeal to mass market radio when live, the refreshed arrangements on some of her past singles reveal more about their inspiration and creation. Some inspirations are evident from her descriptions of songs, Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Chet Baker were named but there are also some flashes of Chrissie Hynde and other strong women of rock who’ve come before her. One particular source of inspiration is especially poignant for a Canadian audience, the song Madame Trudeaux, which as KT described, was a written as an ‘anthem of female rebellion’ and is about the real-life Margaret Trudeau’s rock and roll lifestyle in the 70’s. You get the sense KT appreciates that 70’s rebellion in life and music.
Her four very skilled backing band members, including drummer/husband, provide some tracks with a wall of sound remeniscent of some 70’s prog-rock. Other tracks get a quiet treatment and a simple sound that brings out the sweet mellow folk/country side of KT. Even when solo, as we saw at her showcase in August, her use of samplers and other instruments creates a big sound for a little lady on stage.
This 90 minute set covered songs from all her albums plus an encore cover of Erasure’s ‘Little Respect’, which was a very fun highlight that I think ‘works’ because the demographic of the audience was slightly more mature than the usual hipster heavy crowds at a ‘trendy’ artist. The small but dedicated audience clearly loved KT, dancing and singing along to most every track. Although it was a Monday (after Halloween) night the audience was left wanting more, hoping to carry on dancing the night away. Exactly the way you want a concert to wrap up…satisfied but wanting the artist to come back again soon.
BC LIONS vs SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS : EMPIRE FIELD – 31October2010
Finally, on the last home game of the season, I made it to Empire Field! While BC Place is under renovations the CFL’s BC Lions have ventured across town to their old East Van stomping grounds and encamped at a temporary 27,000 stadium at Empire Field. I’d heard all season about the great views and audience experience and I must agree they have done an exceptional job for a temporary venue. We had great seats (thanks Pam!) in the second row, right behind the Lions bench but it looked like every row had great sightlines of the field. There was decent, fast service at the concession stands and beer stalls around the outside of the stadium. Since it was a dry, warm afternoon when the game started it made the experience even better. The Half-Time show on this day was a tribute to Veterans in commemoration of the upcoming Veteran’s Week. It was a really well done half time experience. I know from speaking with Lion’s management that there were a lot of other great half time shows over the season. So even though at the begining of the season the Lions weren’t putting on a lot of winning shows they still entertained the audience. This seems to have paid off, if the looks and sounds of the boisterous Halloween day crowd is anything to go by, they were still firmly pro-Lions (much to the dismay of the many wearing ’Riders green in the crowd) Next season Empire Field will be temporary home to another football club as Whitecaps FC begin their premier MLS season at the field they also played on back in the NASL era. Once BC Place is completed, scheduled for June, the Whitecaps and Lions will play under its new retracable roof and Empire Field’s temporary structures will come down and it will revert back to a public field. I look forward to seeing more games at Empire!
As you can see from the images above the view is amazing from the 5th level suite, if (for some reason) you tire of the view or peckish head inside to the lounge area, grab some food and a beverage then sit back in the comfy leather chairs and watch the game feed on the large screen tv! The Suite has all the comforts of home, if home had a live NHL game happening in the rink downstairs!
You can win the chance to experience these Hot Seats to a Canucks game or concert for yourself, just look for an entry box at a Metropolis at Metrotown Customer Service Desk. Metropolis is putting lucky winners in the Hot Seats for every event at Rogers Arena throughout the year!
Sufjan Stevens – Orpheum Theatre Vancouver – October 28, 2010
Tonight I got my first Sufjan Stevens (pronounced soof-yahn) live experience at the Orpheum Theatre. His melodic voice was perfect for a beautiful auditorium that was designed for live performances. His angelic vocal styliings contradicted the rather melancholy topics of his music, which he explained was mostly new for this concert and was centred around internal emotions, physical and mental illness and heart sickness. Although these subjects might be enough to put a damper on the evening, his lighthearted and good natured banter between sets made sure the show wasn’t too pessimistic. Even when telling the tragic tale of Royal Robertson, who was the inspiration of the song “Get Real, Get Right”, it managed to stay interesting and light. Being that most of these were new songs, no one knew them but that didn’t keep people from shouting out their affection for Sufjan. It wasn’t until two thirds of the way into the show that people got up to dance, including Sufjan and his two back up singers / dancer. They really brought the house down and the mood up with their dance moves on the final song of the nearly two hour main set. After a short, equally entertaining encore of mostly older songs did the audience have something to hum along to on the way home. This may have been my first time watching Sufjan Stevens but I certainly hope it won’t be the last?
With Whitecaps defeated in the semi-finals and the USSF D-2 league final about to take place this weekend, now is a good time to say goodbye to the USL/USSF leagues and Swangard Stadium. Home to Vancouver 86ers and Whitecaps FC soccer teams since 1987, this 41 year old multi-use stadium will no longer be home field in the coming Major League Soccer era. Over the years Swangard has witnessed our local teams bring home a lot of hardware; 4 CSL championships, 2 USL championships, Commissioner’s, Cascadia and Voyageur Cup. It’s shining moment has to be during the FIFA U20 Wolrd Cup when the stadium was temperarily expanded to 10,000 seats, some great matches occured including a stunning Spain v Brazil round of 16 tilt. World Cup/Olympic qualifiers & FIFA U19 Women’s World Cup have all been held at Swangard. Being a smaller stadium (capacity 5288) it provides an outstanding intimate setting, something the (Whitecap’s) SouthSiders Supporters have used to their advantage when building enthusiams and causing much grief for visiting Goal Keepers (with cries of “You Fat Bastard”) Hopefully, when Whitecaps FC allocate seats in their new temporary stadium at Empire Field, there is a fare share of standing-room tickets for the Southside members and other’s who want to be close to the action! Alas, all is not over for the venerable Burnaby grounds; SFU, High Schools & Local teams will continue to use the facility and special events like 24Hour Replay will be ongoing as well.