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).

Fran Healy – Mr Nice Guy

Fran Healy leaves the mic aside

Fran Healy – The Vogue Theatre – August 17, 2010

Without a doubt this has to be one of the most special shows I’ve ever been fortunate enough to attend (a big thank you to my friend, David).
I’ve seen Travis on numerous tours but this was lead singer Fran Healy’s first solo journey into Vancouver in advance of his upcoming solo album, Wreckorder.

Unfortunately the audience was quite small, only about 250 people. But fortunately, this allowed us to hear the songs in a way they were truly meant to be. The Vogue Theatre is a classic old theatre with acoustics built for pure sound, Fran took this opportunity to step out from behind the mic, unplug and perform completely acoustic for an entire set; a mix of classic Travis, new solo work along with engaging stories about the origins of songs.  It felt like we were just a few people in a coffee house with the artist in the corner chatting with friends in between performing some songs. It was amazing!

As if treating us to an amazing set wasn’t enough, after the performance he took another 45minutes to chat and take photos with the fans signing anything put in front of him.  I’m sure the venue staff were anxious to close up the theatre and get home but Fran kept chatting and didn’t rush anyone. So engaging and genuine on and off stage…a great guy.

Desert Island Disc – Disc 4

The ongoing journey through my TopTen must have discs continues:
(Find disc 1, disc 2, disc 3)

Scissor Sisters – Scissor Sisters
Scissor Sisters - Scissor Sisters
This is probably one of the more recent additions on my list but I think will stand the test of time and still be worth a listen years from now too.
In 2004 the Scissor Sisters burst onto the scene like the 70’s lovechild of Elton John and Cher. They were a refreshing departure from the other chart topping (middle of the road) artists topping the charts at the time.
A blend of disco and glam rock (heavy on the glam) one can’t help but be sucked into the rhythms and beats.  Their breakthrough single a disco infused cover of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” is the best selling Pink Floyd cover in spite of being thought a sacrilege by diehard Floyd fans. Like other albums on my Top Ten this one also has a variety of sounds, although all the tracks have a 70’s tinge and disco hooks they range from thoughtful slow tracks like “Return to Oz” to twangy mid-tempo on “Take Your Mama” to full on floor-fillers like “Filthy/Gorgeous”. One thing is certain this album is never boring, there is always something fun and new coming up on the next track.

Chromeo – Won Over!

11Aug2010 – Chromeo at Commodore Ballroom (I forgot my camera so you’ll have to get a taste via the Momma’s Boy video instead)

One word! Awesome! Such a fun show. I’d heard of and listened to Montreal based Chromeo a bit before and like their blend of retro style dance-pop so thought I’d take the opportunity to see them live.  Boy, was I happy I did! My friend Grady and I ended up knowing a bunch of other people there and as soon as I tweeted that I was at the show…a few other friends started replying how much they liked Chromeo and wanted to be there…I had no idea they were so big (I’m not usually this clueless).
We got there in time to catch the opening set by Holy Ghost , also a good act but cursed by not having as good a sound set up as the headliners.
Once Chromeo took the stage to audience chants of Cho-ME-oh-WHOA-oh! It was a fun, bouncing, dancing, entertaining solid hour+ show.  I can’t imagine anyone not having a good time.  For one of our other friends this was his fourth time seeing them…I can see why. I will definitely be back and suggest you do the same!

Desert Island Discs – Disc 2

Welcome to our second installment of my Top 10 Desert Island Discs again, this is in no particular order. (Find the introduction to disc 1 here)

Blur: The Great Escape
Blur: The Great Escape

I don’t know what it is or why but I loved this whole album from the very first listen. This was Blur’s 4th studio album and they’d had some great songs up to day but somehow everything on this one ‘clicked’ to produce an overall great hour of listening pleasure. This disc came out at the height of the Britpop wave of new young bands. With the simultaneous release of the first single from this album; “Country House” and rival Britpop icon’s Oasis’ single; “Roll With It”, the Battle Of Britpop (to see which band claimed the coveted #1 spot on that week’s chart) grabbed headlines all around the world, propelling both bands even further into stardom. In the end, “Country House” (in my opinion a far superior single) grabbed the number one spot ahead of number 2 “Roll With It”.
This was the first of a string of great singles released from ”The Great Escape”; “The Universal” (one of my favourite songs…ever), “Stereotypes” and “Charmless Man” all followed “Country House” into the top 10 singles charts.
For those singles alone this is a great album and worthy of being on my Top 10.