Scottish act, The Fratellis flew into Vancouver to kick off their North American tour supporting their latest release, In Your Own Sweet Time. The fifth full length album by the Fratelli trio, brings an alt-country sound to the stage with a relaxed twang mixed with a Scottish burr.
The Commodore Ballroom was filled with a mix of fans from near and far as the opening act, Brighton’s Blood Red Shoes, warmed up the room. The headliners made their way to the stage the audience was ready to hang on their every note. Most Vancouver Canucks fans may have a distaste for the Scottish act responsible for the dreaded Chicago Blackhawks goal song, but they’re music is much more than the pop/punk sound of Chelsea Dagger, taken from their first release.
Not ones for a lot of chatter, other than the odd greeting from lead singer/guitar Jon Fratelli, and a laugh at their jetleg caused gaffs. The band lets the music speak for them, plugging away with song after song from their five albums, for the 90 minute set. The Commodore fans were left satisfied with the return of The Fratellis and their first taste of what audiences around North America will experience in the month to come.
Janet Jackson brought her State Of The World concert tour to Rogers Arena in Vancouver this week. Vancouver has a special connection with Miss Jackson, being the rehearsal spot the All For You Tour, and starting arena for her Rock Witchu and Unbreakable Tours. An enthusiastic audience cheered the voice-over social commentary before the R&B legend made her appearance, followed by her troupe of dancers, to give us The Knowledge and State of the World to open the set.
From then on, it was two+ hours of hits, and memories, keeping most of the audience on their feet for the evening. Just as her albums have shown an evolution and provided Miss Jackson with a platform to make her own statement on the state of the world, this tour performance was broken into segments that reflected the divas decades long career. The new mom worked at a great clip powering through vocals and dancing mash-ups of her early hits including; Nasty, What Have You Done For Me Lately, Miss You Much, Alright, Control, Escapade, and more. A costume change brought some of her softer ballads, and some slight sound issues, before kicking it back up for a crowd pleasing That’s The Way Love Goes and other legendary 90s hits before another costume change wraps up the show with If and Rhythm Nation. Video vignettes showing career highlights as well as new imagery accented the stage set and served as a statement about the longevity of the Janet’s iconic career.
The encore and final costume change saw a casually sexy Janet, fitted white shirt and jeans, come out to engage with the audience, introducing her band and dancers then leaving the audience satisfied but wanting the good times to continue.
This week, Lionel Richie wrapped up his All The Hits tour in Seattle with their penultimate gig making a stop in Vancouver. Along with the iconic hit maker, another legendary voice joined the tour with Mariah Carey sharing the bill as a special guest.
As the audience arrived, opening act Tauren Wells, got the evening going with a set of his Christian R&B tinged pop/rock.
A short stage reset welcomed Mariah Carey to the stage.
With a flash of a career montage, Ms Carey, upon a throne, her voice preceding her, arrived on stage. Her set included some of her greatest hits, sounding amazing as she hit every note of her career defining tunes like; Heartbreaker, Touch My Body, My All, It’s Like That, Vision of Love, and more. One of the sweetest moments of the set was when the singer’s twins, Moroccan and Monroe joined her onstage. Little Miss Monroe joined her mother singing Always Be My Baby, while Moroccan took to the throne and interjected like a hype-boy. With her instrument fully in great form, Mariah has fun playing the diva throughout the set; her back-up dancers treating her like a Queen, getting a hair & make-up touch up whilst on her throne, three costume changes but never letting the over-the-top fun get in the way of job number one, belting out best-selling hit after hit.
After Ms Carey’s 75 minute set wrapped up with an encore of Hero, another set change get the stage ready for Lionel Richie and his nearly 50 year catalogue.
The energetic 68 year old showed little effect from the knee surgery that postponed the tour from earlier in the year. Boundless energy and an arena filling presence kept the audience enraptured and singing along to hits from both his solo career and with The Commodores. Starting with Easy, then moving swiftly between upbeat numbers and ballads like Running With The Night, You Are, Penny Lover, Hello, Stuck On You, Brickhouse, Three Times A Lady, Say You Say Me, Dancing On The Ceiling. Engaging the audience, and poking a bit of fun at his and some of the fans’ age. Lionel also had a good time with some of the ladies in the front of the audience, highlighting them or their dancing on the stage screens caused some embarrassment and some joy. Getting a bit political the songwriter reminded us of how much good can get done when people work together with a solo rendition of We Are The World before wrapping up the evening with his anthem All Night Long (All Night).
Surely many of the audience would have like the evening of great songs and singers to continue all night long but after nearly 4 hours the night wrapped leaving smiles on faces and songs in heads and hearts across the arena.
Arts: As if you need more to do this weekend, the 27th Harmony Arts Festival kicks off on Friday bringing 10 days of arts & entertainment to West Vancouver.
Shakespeare: Bard on the Beach is under the tents at Vanier Park, Much Ado About Nothing and The Winter’s Tale are on the BMO Mainstage with The Merchant of Venice and Two Gentlemen of Verona in previews on the Howard Family Stage
Pier: Pride comes to North Vancouver this year with the new Prance on the Pier, an all-ages dance party at the Shipyards pier in lower Lonsdale
Bingo: At Wednesday’s Bingo 4 Life Pride Edition Grease is the word as Mina Mercury and Carlotta Gurl channel their inner Sandy’s while calling numbers to raise money for Vancouver Friends For Life
Bach: Early Music Vancouver presents the 2nd Vancouver Bach Festival with chamber music concerts, ensembles and soloists bringing classical music to Christ Church Cathdral and The Chan Centre until Aug 11th
Run: Get your weekend off and running, supporting charities while you’re at it. Drop your gear for the Pride Undie Run, a quick jog from the Vancouver Art Gallery to the Davie Street Party on Friday night.
Street: Pride really gets going with the annual Davie Street Dance Party filling the street from Burrard to Jervis with music, food, drink and entertainment
June started with an uplifting, soulful evening as John Legend brought his Darkness and Light Tour to Vancouver. The Academy, Grammy, Golden Globe award winner started the show promptly at 8:55pm, rising slowly into the centre of the stage with his piano. As the stage screens shifted to reveal more of the singer, he moved to centre stage to get the audience on their feet as he moved through his set. Joined by his trio of supporting singers, and their perfectly synchronized girl-group choreography, Love Me Now, elevated the energy level early on as the rousing hit prompted an audience sing-a-long and got them moving. Other hits followed; Used to Love You, Like I’m Gonna Lose You, Ordinary People, Who Do We Think We Are were mixed with album tracks, new and old.
A few covers were mixed in to the set too. Telling the story of the birth of his daughter, Luna, John Legend spoke of the special significance of Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly. Known for his political leanings, Teddy Pendergrass’s Wake Up Everybody fit Legend like a glove, with the lyrics as topical today as in 1975. A bit of an acapella rendition of the Beach Boys God Only Knows introduced the final quarter of the nearly 2 hour set. The tune Slow Dance will forever be memorable for an audience member, Tanya, who was invited onstage to dance with Legend, and stole the set while she was at it. John Legend wrapped up the Darkness and Light Tour stop with the encore tunes, All Of Me and the Oscar winning Glory. The later providing an audience sing-a-long that threatened to block out the singer himself.
John Legend’s Darnkess and Light Tour continues this weekend in Washington State, stopping at Woodenville, WA. Try to catch the tour if John Legend makes his way to your town.
Saturday night in Vancouver, Keith Urban’s ripCORD world tour began its arena leg with multiple stops scheduled across Canada. The Aussie country star is being joined on this leg by up and coming singer Maren Morris and hometown country/rock artist Dallas Smith.
Promptly at 7:30 JRFM’s Clay St Thomas welcomed the audience to Rogers Arena and Maren Morris took to the stage for a half hour set to warm up and launch the ripCORD world tour. The young star, belted out a number of tunes from her HERO album which made its debut in June 2016 as she joined Keith Urban’s tour. Making her Canadian debut Maren thanked the support of Canadian country radio which pushed her single “My Church” to top 3.
After a quick stage change, award-winning Dallas Smith hit the stage to a warm Vancouver welcome, as many had obviously come early to support the Langley BC native. The former Default frontman, acknowledged his rock roots and demonstrated that his powerful voice can lend itself just as easily to hard power-rock as it does to rousing country. With 5 full-length albums and EP, Smith has more than enough material for his near-hour long set. The star related how this show brings his career in a sort of full-circle, in his Default days be remembered being backstage at Rogers Arena listening to Keith Urban before coming onstage and now here he was supporting him.
The audience roared when Keith Urban burst to the stage, with Gone Tomorrow (Here Today) and heated up with Long Hot Summer. The affable star’s performance crosses all genres, appealing to the country fans and rock lovers alike. Keith Urban’s guitar skills and energy rocked the arena as he made his way through a two-hour set. While I can’t profess to being a big fan before the show, I came away a fan. I was surprised how many of his songs were familiar to me, and even those that I didn’t know were carried by Urban’s buoyant energy and performance. By the time the set got to the hit Days Go By, the audience was fully dancing, singing and whooping it up all around the arena. Maren Morris joined Urban for We Were Us, singing Miranda Lambert’s part on the duet. Carrie Underwood even made an appearance, albeit on video, during The Fighter. Giving his backing band the spotlight, bandmates Nathan Barlowe and Jerry Flowers each sang for their intros. To the unlikely beats of Daft Punk’s Get Lucky, Urban and band made their way to the second stage at the back of the arena where they were joined by Dallas Smith for Somebody Like You and Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me. The audience clearly wasn’t ready as the set came to a close and for that matter, the star himself seemed like his could go on playing all night. Urban seemed genuinely appreciative of the audience, even going so far as bringing on member onstage to record a rendition of Happy Birthday on her phone for her youngster. Signing and giving away one of his performance guitars to another fan. Then after all the singing was done he stayed onstage shaking hands and greeting the audience around the stage. It’s no wonder, everyone I spoke to who had seen Keith Urban shows in the past spoke so highly of the experience.
The ripCORD World Tour continues in arenas across western Canada through September before moving into the US and Oceania until the year-end.
Sunday night, Duran Duran brought their Paper Gods World Tour to Rogers Arena in Vancouver. While known as 80s New Wave icons, the group hasn’t stopped recording and touring in the ensuing decades, keeping there fingers in the industry through changing styles, genres and tastes.
Their fans have stuck with them too, an effervescent energy bubbled through the arena in anticipation of the group taking the stage. When they did, to the title track “Paper Gods” it was like thousands of teenage fantasies came true as the female dominated audience cheered and danced their hearts out for the next two hours.
Over the years Duran Duran has had an ever-changing line-up, tonight it was a trio of original members, Simon Le Bon, John Taylor and Roger Taylor. Nick Rhodes was back in London attending to some family issues so in his place on keyboards was the multi-talented American singer/songwriter MNDR. Nick was present in the backing video montage to “Pressure Off”, the lead single to Paper Gods album, for which producer Nile Rodgers also joined them onstage.
Balancing old with new, the setlist included something from nearly every one of their past albums; Wild Boys, Hungry Like The Wolf, A View To A Kill, Notorious, Planet Earth (which included a Space Oddity, David Bowie tribute), Ordinary World, White Lines, The Reflex, Girls On Film, Save A Prayer (including a couple lines of Little Red Corvette as a nod to Prince) and Rio. It was nice to see some of the audience members had brought their children to share their fave music with another generation and everyone (except for maybe the couple next to me) danced the night away and most likely spent their journey home humming a Duran Duran tune.
The Paper Gods Tour continues tonight, August 30th in Calgary and then through the U.S. West Coast and south.