Heart – Red Velvet Car


Heart – Queen Elizabeth Theatre – February 26, 2011 

Legendary rock band Heart wrapped up a 20 date cross Canada tour at Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre this weekend, bringing them back to the city that gave them their start nearly 40 years ago.


I last saw them 25 years ago at Pacific Coliseum during their big haired power ballad 80’s era, while the hair is smaller they rock just as hard as ever. If we’d not been up close and able to see the extra lines that life has added to the indomitable Wilson Sisters, I wouldn’t have known it wasn’t 1986.  Ann still sings with power and edge and Nancy still struts and strums with all the exuberance and energy as ever.

Nancy Wilson

Whether it’s belting out hard rocking tracks like “Barracuda” and “Crazy On You”, a simple stripped down version of “These Dreams” or power ballad “Alone” these are classic tunes performed by consummate pros.  In addition to the hits of the past new songs from the 2010 released album “Red Velvet Car” were fit into the set as well.  Throughout the evening, the Wilson’s mentioned their ties to Vancouver, few local events and venues of the past, recording their first hit record “Dreamboat Annie”.  They even had Vancouverite Ben Mink, who produced “Red Velvet Car” joined them on stage for a couple of the new singles adding a lush depth to the songs with his violin.

Ann Wilson

Over the years Heart’s sound has covered a wide range of eras and tastes; hard, electronic tinged, soft ballad, country but through it all there is the continuing  knowledge that rock ties it all together and these ladies don’t look like they’ll stop rocking any time soon…thankfully!

Eco Fashion Week Vancouver – Fall 2011

The 2011 Eco Fashion Week Vancouver kicked off with a great opening party at the Aveda Institute Vancouver.
Aveda is a perfect presenting partner for Eco Fashion Week as they both have a great philosophy that fashion doesn’t have to forgo sustainability in the pursuit of style.
The flagship Aveda Institute in the heart of Vancouver’s Gastown neighbourhood is a great venue for this (or any event) as the training area opens up into a large function space.
Warmly welcomed with sushi from Sushi Zero One and a cocktail made with organic Schramm Vodka from Pemberton Distillery, a NatureLand Organic Lager or Painted Turtle Wine the event took on a convivial atmosphere.  Add in an Aveda Hand Ritual or Stress-Relieving massage using the Aveda’s signature aromatic essential oil based products and the evening was off to a perfect start!

President Myriam Laroche launches Eco Fashion Week

Eco Fashion Week President Myriam Laroche welcomed the guests with a few words to kick off this second celebration of environmentally conscious designers, manufacturers and retailers.


Plants & Animals – Big Things Ahead

Plants and Animals – Commodore Ballroom – February 18, 2011

Juno Award nominated and Polaris Prize shortlisted Plants and Animals kicked off their latest cross Canada tour in Vancouver Friday night. The relative newcomers are touring in support of their 2010 release “La La Land” but also debuted a few new songs during the set, presumably to be included on their next album.  Although the band are new to me I was impressed by their live set…the songs sounded tight and for a threesome they make a whole lot of sound. This big stage performance is reminiscent of Muse, who are consistently voted one of the best live acts.  The only drawback was the gaps of ‘dead air’ when the band switched or tuned guitars…this I’m sure will change as they gain experience and staff to hand them equipment.
Their straight ahead modern rock sound appears to appeal to a wide range of audience, every clique seemed to be present: hipsters, hippies, plaid wearing students, goths and rockers. Throughout the 75 minute set, everyone danced and bounced along whether it was an established hit like “Bye Bye Bye” or a new tune like the tentatively titled “2010”.  If Plants and Animals are coming to your town I recommend checking them out now, before they move on to bigger things and venues

Michael Bolton – A Trip Down Memory Lane

Michael Bolton – River Rock Casino – February 18, 2011

Gone is the Fabio-esque long flowing mane of hair so synonymous with Michael Bolton of the 80’s and 90’s but the voice and the hits live on.
Stopping in Vancouver for a sell-out show at the River Rock Casino Theatre (in addition to a private charity fundraiser the evening  prior) Michael Bolton certainly cannot be accused of limiting himself to a single genre.  Over his lengthy career, beginning in a hard rock band, he has recorded R&B, Contemporary Pop, Classic pop, Standards, Swing, Opera and his career is still going to there’s ample time for a few more genres…perhaps Bolton Goes Country is in the future?During this 2 hour show the audience was treated to all these genres, showcasing the diversity of Bolton’s musical range and skill.  Having just an image of the 80’s Michael Bolton as a frame of reference, I was quite impressed with what was presented.  Especially surprising and welcome was his visit to the Blues…he plays a mean Blues guitar! Following was a trip into Swing and Opera with a set of classic Sinatra standards and a very capable rendition of Nessun Dorma, which he’d performed with the great tenor Luciano Pavarotti. After a short interlude, in which band-member, saxaophonist and successful recording artist in his own right, Michael Lington performed his own single “You & I”,

Saxaphonist - Michael Lington

Michael Bolton returned, having changed out of a suit and into jeans and a t-shirt, to the auditorium in the middle of the audience.  This began a set of the best know Michael Bolton songs, “How Can We Be Lover”, “Georgia On My Mind”, “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You”…  Singing in the midst of the audience, I’m sure hearts of more than a few of the ladies present skipped a beat…although judging by the demographic in the theatre this might not have been a healthy option. A number of ladies had brought flowers with them to present to Bolton, sadly he hasn’t quite reached the Tom Jones status of receiving panties, one younger lady in the front row was nearly overwhelmed with excitement when he pointed at her…she timidly presented him with her flowers.  This seemed to draw her out of her shell and she kept on dancing at the stage, grabbing her friends to join in. Earlier, the slightly overzealous River Rock security ‘removed’ a younger lady (and her glass of Chardonnay) from the edge of the stage. Now the floodgates seemed to be open as more and more ladies (and a couple of men) rushed the stage and I don’t think any security dared face the wrath of a women refused the chance to get up close to Michael Bolton and his tight t-shirt.  Dancing with great enthusiasm the wildly diverse audience was like a cross section of dance  and fashion styles from the last 30 years.  I think more than a few “Girls Night Out” were in the audience and they seemed to work themselves into a frenzy whereas those who came with a husband/boyfriend had equally good of a time dancing on their own. It was an excellent night for people watching, my friend and I were so mesmerized by one particular lady in pink dancing up a storm that we ended up forgetting to watch the show onstage.  All the positive feelings in the room translated into a very entertaining evening, no matter what you say or feel about Michael Bolton it was great to see so many people having such a good time. That ability to know exactly how to win over the whole audience is the difference between a good performer and great

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