Walking With Dinosaurs: The Arena Specatular

Walking with Dinosaurs:The Arena Spectacular – Rogers Arena – Aug 26, 2010

Based on the award winning BBC-TV series, Walking With Dinosaurs truly brings the giant beasts to life right in front of you. Led by an ‘archaeologist’ / host who guides us through the eras and tells the story of the dinosaurs, flora and fauna of each passing stage of dinosaur evolution.

Although it sounds like it should be, you would be mistaken if you dismissed this show as “for kids”.  Children and adults of all ages get something out of this presentation, little kids all around were screaming out the names of the dinosaurs (it’s amazing what little kids know!) and shrieking as each one lumbered and roared into the arena.  Adults were learning alongside their children and many were probably revelling in a little childhood wonder as well. 

This was the second year I’ve seen this show and both times I was amazed at the intricacy and realism of the dinosaur creations.  Even though you can plainly see the legs of the actor working the smaller creatures or the wheeled base of the giants, it’s incredibly easy to suspend reality and believe that we are in the Cretaceous or Jurassic periods.  The simplicity of the darkened set, surrounded by inflatable plants and flowers and filled with vast amounts of projections and lights allows your mind to complete the picture and take you back in time.

Although the tickets for this event can be high, depending on your city, if you can manage to I highly recommend seeing it, my description does not do it justice.

*warning for parents, younger sensitive children may find some parts of the show a bit frightening. The Dinosaurs roar quite loud, the arena is dark other than the floor/set and the first scene involve a predator dinosaur eating a newly hatched baby

KT Tunstall at Fairmont Pacific Rim

Summertime, friends, patios, martinis, music…what a perfect combination! That’s what we were treated to on Aug 25th at the Fairmont Pacific Rim as they along with EMI Music Canada a private performance by KT Tunstall in the Lobby Lounge.

I was a bit sceptical at first of how a concert performance, even an acoustic set, would sound in such a big open environment with massively high ceilings.  Plus how ‘private’ would it be in the Lobby of a major hotel.  As with everything Fairmont, they did an amazing job turning it into a great party with great sound.  As guests (a great selection of media, tourism and socialite types) arrived, mixed and mingled over some cocktails and appetizers, local singer/songwriter Jeff Johnson entertained the crowd.

After about an hour KT Tunstall came on stage and performed an hour long acoustic solo set covering music from her previous albums as well as forthcoming release “Tiger Suit”. KT was in fine voice and I was really amazed at the great sound in the Lounge, it really suited this style of performance.  I hope they continue to do shows like this in the Lobby Lounge, it’s a great intimate venue.  

Being a quite crowded space it made it quite easy to introduce ourselves to new people, since we often ended up standing right beside someone as space was limited.  It was great to be introduced to new people and their companies. Met great people from The Peak 100.5 and Vancouver is Awesome, learned about Silver Spoon Food Tours , Make It Show.

Lady Gaga – Don’t Believe The Hype?

Lady Gaga – Rogers Arena – August 24, 2010

Perhaps one of the most anticipated concert events of the year blew through Vancouver for two shows.  Unfortunately anticipation was the downfall of this concert for me. After reading and hearing about so many great things about Lady Gaga’s shows in other cities I had huge expectations for an amazing show. 
Of course being Lady Gaga there was a huge elaborate stage, astounding costumes, a legion of dancers and scores of screaming fans (many also in costumes).  During the costume/set changes there were some great video montages and vignettes played on the massive screen covering the stage. The staging itself was excellent and the sound was great. 
All the ingredients of an epic concert but something seemed to be missing on this night.  In hindsight it was the energy that was lacking to push this into the ”amazing show” category.  Often Gaga stopped to discuss issues, talk to her fans or set up the next song, these breaks tended to only keep the lower bowl and floor seats engaged but failed to ‘reach’ the higher levels.  With each chat, any energy built up from the previous song would just stop as the crowd around us sat back down.  I’m happy to have an artist chat and engage the audience but these long spells of talk just fell flat in this case.  If the music had have flowed from one song to the next, the audience wouldn’t have settled down and had to revive for the next song.  You could see that the audience standing (and dancing) on the floor had energy that fed off of each person, where we were there was none.

It felt like an actor in the middle of Phantom of the Opera suddenly stopped at the end of a scene and started talking to someone in the front row, a total break from the production.I guess too high of expectations can sometimes make the disappointment that much greater.  Friends who didn’t know anything about what to expect had a great time and were thoroughly entertained.  Oh well, all in all it was good to check Lady Gaga off of ’the list’ but possibly this might be the last time I see her live.

Desert Island Discs – Disc 6

(Read disc 1, disc 2, disc 3 disc 4, disc 5)

Stereophonics – Just Enough Education to Perform

This was a difficult decision. The Stereophonics are one of my favourite bands, so choosing just one of their albums really made me think about them in depth. This 2001 release was their third studio album and to me the one that perfected the ‘phonics sound.
Their first album, Word Gets Around, opened the door and gave the public a peak, the second, Performance and Cocktails, announced their arrival and made the public take notice. On Just Enough Education to Perform or J.E.E.P as it was known, the band produced an album that feels relaxed and has a mature, natural sound.  They didn’t have to try to create the ‘phonics sound, it just was who they were and it came organically.
It’s also a more diverse sounding album while at the same time holding onto who they are; lead single Mr Writer doesn’t sound like second single Have A Nice Day while a cover of 60’s Handbags and Gladrags is made to sound like it belongs on a Stereophonics album.
Having had the privilege to see them live many times and meet the band a couple of times they really are the nicest guys. One example stands out, it had started snowing during their set and started getting heavier as we hung out backstage, as we were saying goodbyes, each one of them said “get home safe” to us and you really felt like they meant it.
This album sounds most like them, a truly nice collection of songs (or guys) that make up a whole perfect package (or band).

Turn Tweeps Into Peeps

Twitter and other social media are great at connecting the world and spreading the ‘word’ but how many of you come out from behind your keyboard to meet other social media users?

Recently my friend Brian and I had a small Tweet-up (Twitter/Tweep meet-up) at Rogue Kitchen & Wetbar.  None of us had been to Rogue Wetbar before either and I’d selected the location because they were very active on Twitter, so we could consider the venue a Tweep too. 

Have a casual get together that allows people to interact on a different level and with sentences longer than 140 characters.  It gives us a deeper look into our ‘real’ personalities vs the witty, pithy, attention seeking people we are online.  I’ve had a few other Tweet-ups to try to get to know the people behind the avatar, you already know you have similar interests, so get out and meet them, who knows who you’ll find.  Brian and I started off as Tweeps, met up and as a result I know consider him among my closest friends. 
I challenge you to turn your Tweeps into Peeps and get out and get to know some of those people you follow, friend or chat with online. You might be surprised to discover brand new lasting friendships!

100th Anniversary PNE Parade

20Aug2010 – 100th Anniversary PNE Parade

Dancing Elvis’, Lumberjacks, SuperDogs, Red Robinson, Giant Inflatables…these are not your typical entries in a Vancouver Parade but this was not just any parade.

Grand Master: Dal Richards

In honour of it’s 100th Anniversary, the Fair At The PNE revived a lost summer time tradition…the PNE Parade. Held annually until 1995 the PNE Parade was the kick off to the Fair and highlighted one of the last major events of the season (the Fair runs the last half of August, closing on Labour Day). 
Led off by the indomitable Bandleader Dal Richards as Grand Marshall, this 100th Anniversary revival celebrated all the achievements, entertainment and traditions associated with the last 10 decades of the Pacific National Exhibition; including
– Iconic concerts; Elvis in 1957 and The Beatles in 1964, hosted by radio legend Red Robinson.
– Sports; BC Lions & Vancouver Whitecaps at Empire Stadium, Vancouver   Canucks at Pacific Coliseum;
– Exhibits: Horse Shows, 4H competitions, Logger Sports, Monster Trucks
– Playland: Carnival Games, Fair Food
– Multiculturalism: Chinese Dragon and Bollywood Dancers

Most of all it seemed like this parade featured memories, you could see and hear from the older members of the audience as they mentioned past events and family trips to the Fair. Also, from the next generations as they visit with their children and form new memories that will last for the next century of The PNE/Playland

What are your favourite memories of the PNE?

Desert Island Discs – Disc 5

Here we are halfway through my Top Ten! (Find disc 1, disc 2, disc 3 disc 4)

Saturday Night Fever – Original Soundtrack

Laugh as you might, this is actually a great album. Not only is it a classic that truly defined an era but it has some damn fine songs that stand up in any era. For 25 years (until the release of The Bodyguard) this was the best selling soundtrack of all time. This compilation is probably the best thing about the motion picture that it represents.
This recording was the zenith of the disco era, everyone associated with it has been defined by it.  You can’t mention the “Bee Gees” without thinking of some of the song that have become their standards; Night Fever, Staying Alive, Jive Talking, How Deep Is Your Love to name just four. You can’t say the name of the movie without picturing John Travolta, one arm up-stretched in his white polyester suit. I’m sure this was a blessing and a curse to some, the Bee Gees were able to shed the “disco” label as the fashions changed but others, were not able to come out the other side.
The album was a number 1 record, won the Grammy for Album of the Year, generated five top 5 hits and sold millions.  Perhaps it was the mainstream success generated by this hit soundtrack that led to the decline in Disco’s popularity.  Unfortunately, with the demise of disco the backlash against this album meant many people haven’t had the chance to listen to it objectively. Hi-NRG dance, disco, ballads, pop, rock are all featured and make this a very well-rounded and entertaining soundtrack. If you give it a listen I’m sure there will be at least one track that will bring a smile to your face