Corey Hart Never Surrenders

Corey Hart with Glass Tiger – Rogers Arena – June 25, 2019

Corey Hart wrapped up the Never Surrender Tour at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. His first tour after over two decades away from the music spotlight was supported by Glass Tiger, themselves celebrating the 33rd anniversary of their debut album.

Glass Tiger

As the early audience arrived, they were treated to a set filled with nostalgic hits from three of the original members of Glass Tiger. Alan Frew, who just two weeks prior to the start of the tour underwent surgery on a broken neck suffered in accident, was in fine form and voice. Covering the stage to reach out to their fans who were having a great time singing along to old favourites, plus a couple of new tracks, he built up the energy in the arena.

After a short intermission filled with other retro tracks, Corey Hart bounded on stage to a roar of approval from the now ample audience. The 2+ hours that followed were filled with an array of hits from the Montrealer’s catalogue. From the energy and engagement, you would never guess that the singer had taken a 22 year break from the stage to raise his family with wife (and back up singer) Julie Masse-Hart. While he made light of the fact that he, and we all, were older, he performed like he was years younger than his 57 years.

Corey Hart thanks his fans

However, there were moments of father-figure, maturity as he spoke passionately of his signature theme to Never Surrender and when speaking of his family. A couple of the more nurturing moments came with a couple of surprises. Mid-set the singer regrouped to a grand piano at the centre of the arena, to reach out to more audience members. At this time, he told how he’d had to cancel a 1987 tour and as a result the fan who’d won a meet-and-greet with the singer missed out on her prize. At the start of this tour, she’d reached out on Facebook to remind him of the long lost prize, she was at the show, so keeping true to his word he invited her to the stage to finally claim her meet-and-greet, 32 years later. At the opposite end of the fan spectrum, Corey was also joined onstage by a new supporter, 13 year old singer, Tyson, from the Sarah Mclachlan School of Music. Tyson blew the audience away with his powerful vocals on Goin’ Home.

Not letting any of his fan favourites slip past, the setlist was filled with sing-along tracks, and a couple of new songs from his latest EP, including First Rodeo, with Glass Tiger’s Alan Frew joining onstage to perform a part sung by Jim Cuddy on the record. Boy In The Box, Everything In My Heart, It Ain’t Enough, Can’t Help Falling In Love, Sunglasses At Night and, of course, Never Surrender, all found new life and old memories. Those old memories were joined by new ones from this stellar performance from a genuinely warm, and engaging performer, who seems to be back and ready to bring more music to his fans.

Never Surrender

City Opera Vancouver presents Nigredo Hotel

Be prepared to be thrilled as City Opera Vancouver presents the astonishing and macabre work, Nigredo Hotel, from September 20 to 22, at The Cultch Historic Theatre.

Originally commissioned by Tapestry Opera, City Opera Vancouver’s Nigredo Hotel is directed by Alan Corbishley, with music by Nic Gotham and libretto by distinguished Canadian author and playwright Ann-Marie MacDonald. The one-act chamber opera tells the tale of an encounter between a beautiful but crazed hotelier, Sophie, and a brain surgeon, Raymond, who seeks refuge after a traumatic car accident.

“Part psychological thriller and mystery, both sarcastic and sweet, witty and strange, Nigredo Hotel is
nothing like City Opera Vancouver has ever presented before. This deeply moving, emotionally and
intellectually charged work is full of suspense, broad comedy, and great surprise,” says Charles Barber,
Artistic Director, City Opera Vancouver. “Vancouver audiences will be mesmerized by MacDonald’s highly
evocative libretto and Gotham’s brilliant score that beautifully conveys the complex relationship between two strangers as they embark on a dark spiritual journey. This celebrated opera is an intellectual tour de force and one of the most remarkable works in the Canadian opera canon.”

Tyler Duncan & Sarah Vardy
Photo: Michelle Koebke from
Diamond’s Edge Photography

Internationally renowned opera stars Tyler Duncan and Sarah Vardy will perform a brilliant Jungian-inspired combat between two of the most unusual characters in 20th century opera.
Internationally renowned Canadian baritone Duncan make his City Opera debut as Raymond. Praised for his “powerful voice and dramatic conviction” (New York Times), Duncan is a multi-award winning vocalist known for his performances of art song, oratorio and operatic roles across North America, Europe, and South Africa. Joining Duncan on stage is gifted Canadian dramatic soprano Vardy in the role of Sophie. Hailed for her “emotional yet unaffected quality of performance with a true clear voice” (Saskatoon Star Phoenix), Vardy has delighted audiences in Canada, Europe, Mexico, and China.

The vocalists will perform without a conductor, and are accompanied on stage by a quartet featuring François Houle, clarinet; Laurence Mollerup, bass; Martin Fisk, percussion; and Roger Parton, keyboard.

The world premiere of Nigredo Hotel was performed by Tapestry Opera on May 13, 1992 at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto. The production toured Canada, was presented at the Glasgow Mayfest, remounted in Toronto in 1995 and 2005, and premiered in Australia in 2006.
The Cultch Historic Theatre welcomes this City Opera Vancouver production of Nigredo Hotel September 20 – 22, 2018, at 8pm each night. ?Get tickets online at thecultch.com

Chan Centre opens the season Aida Cuevas

photo: Aida Cuevas

The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at UBC opens its season by welcoming Grammy Award-winning Mexican superstar Aida Cuevas along with the band Mariachi Juvenil Tecalitlán on September 22, 2018, at 8pm in the Chan Shun Concert Hall.

Hailed as ‘The Queen of Mariachi’ and renowned for her elegance, charisma, and stunning vocal range, Cuevas will sing traditional Mexican songs by the late singer-songwriter and musical icon Juan Gabriel in this hotly anticipated season opener.

“Aida is a star in every sense of the word — a singer with a gorgeously emotive voice and dynamic stage presence,” says Joyce Hinton, Co-Managing Director of the Chan Centre. “When I first found out about her project honouring the music of Juan Gabriel, I knew it would be a significant event for fans of Mexican music and culture. It is fitting as well that the concert falls just six days after Mexican Independence Day. Ranchera music sung by women is incredibly special, and I’m so honoured to have this trailblazing female artist kick off our series performing in a genre that historically has been dominated by male musicians.”

photo: Aida Cuevas

A ranchera music legend, Cuevas has been celebrated both in her home country and on the world stage for more than four decades. Her unique voice and style have left a significant imprint in the history of Mexican music, with 39 albums selling more than eight million copies worldwide. This year, Cuevas broke new ground as the first female singer in the mariachi category, a normally male-dominated genre, to win a Grammy Award.

The concert at Chan Centre will pay homage to Gabriel, who passed away in 2016. The influential musician was not only Cuevas’ personal mentor, he was also Mexico’s best-selling recording artist of all time, a Billboard Latin Music Hall of Fame inductee, and six-time Grammy award nominee. Cuevas is the only artist authorized by Gabriel’s estate to tour his music, and she will perform a selection of his beloved classics, including “Te Lo Pido Por Favor,” “La Diferencia,” and “Te Sigo Amando.” She will be backed by Mexico City-based Mariachi Juvenil Tecalitlán, alongside special guest musicians on requinto guitar, accordion, percussion, and keyboard.

Related to the concert, fans of Aida Cuevas may also enjoy the following events; 

Film Screening: Dos Tipos de Cuidado (Two Careful Fellows) — Thursday, September 13, 7pm, at The Cinematheque (1131 Howe St.).
Indulge in nostalgia for the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema with this beloved black and white film that follows the trials and tribulations of two best friends turned enemies. 

Pre-Show Talk with Ricardo García — Saturday, September 22, 7:15pm in the Royal Bank Cinema at the Chan Centre.
Ricardo García, a UBC graduate student 
from the Department of French, Hispanic and Italian Studies, will be discussing the way in which female identity and empowerment is negotiated within Mexican music, with a special focus on mariachi and the legacy of Aida Cuevas.

Tickets for events are available online at chancentre.com

Jake Bugg charms the Commodore Ballroom

Jake Bugg – April 1, 2018 – Commodore Ballroom

This week, British singer/songwriter Jake Bugg played the Commodore Ballroom on the North American leg of his Solo Acoustic Tour.   Supported by Scottish singer Nina Nesbitt, who warmed up the audience before the young headliner took the stage.
Although only 24 year old, Jake Bugg is touring in support of his fourth studio album, the autumn 2017 release, Hearts That Strain.  The mostly acoustic release follows with this acoustic solo show, the hour plus set covered songs from all four albums plus an excellent cover of Neil Young’s “Old Man”.

 

Jake BuggThe bare staging, suited the stripped down performance,  just Bugg with his guitar and a mic stand. A roadie switching out guitars every few songs, and the occasional sips from a red cup were all that broke up the setlist.  Jake Bugg has a youthful charm and charisma that comes across while singing, and fills the room.  The audience appeared to include a number of expats and fans who hung on and sung along with every tune.  A man of few words, Bugg, politely thanked the audience after tunes and told the titles and albums of some, which adds to his charm; a polite , British young man who breaks into his signature heartfelt folk/country inspired tunes.

Jack Bugg Solo Acoustic Tour continues around North America this week before heading down under to Australia, followed by an Asian leg.

Check out jakebugg.com for more gigs and info.

A return to Chelsea Hotel : The Songs Of Leonard Cohen

Adrian Glynn McMorran
Photo: Emily Cooper

As the Firehall Arts Centre celebrates its 35th Anniversary, it brings back one of its most popular shows, Chelsea Hotel : The Songs Of Leonard Cohen.

The musical follows a writer who has checked into the famed Chelsea Hotel seeking inspiration and the words to his next prose. As he reminisces about his past romances to find his muse he is haunted by a love that he cannot, but longs to, forget.  The writer’s memories and hotel room are brought to life through Leonard Cohen’s poetic lyrics.  Creator Tracey Power and musical arranger/director Steve Charles allow the audience to enter the writer’s thoughts play out like a lucid dream.

l-r: Kayla, Steve, Ben, Marlene, Krystle
Photo: Emily Cooper

Adrian Glynn McMorran is the perfect embodiment of the writer’s angst,From tender lullabies to full out rock opera he is able to project the emotions of each tune whether he’s being sung to or singing.  Ben Elliot stands out as the writer’s conscience, helping him keep striving to find the words he’s seeking. Kayla Nickel, Krystle Dos Santos playing his various lovers, from flirtatious minxes to sultry sirens, while Marlene Ginader is the love he can’t forget. Along with Steve Charles all the actors sing and play seventeen different instruments on stage, immersing the audience in the musical.

Marlene Ginader + Adrian Glynn McMorran Photo: Emily Cooper

The first remount since the bard’s passing, the show packs an added emotion when hearing the memorable and thought-provoking lyrics from Everybody Knows, and Closing Time, to First We Take Manhattan, and Bird On A Wire, any many more. Of course no omnibus of Cohen’s music would be complete without the inclusion of Hallelujah.  With JUNO Week in Vancouver celebrating Canadian Music, it seems especially appropriate for the Firehall Arts Centre to remount this love letter to Cohen’s music

Chelsea Hotel: The Songs Of Leonard Cohen plays at Firehall Arts Centre, 280 E. Cordova St. until April 21, 2018. Visit firehallartscentre.ca for showtimes and ticket information.

A Little Night Music lights the Gateway Theatre season

Cast Photo: Emily Cooper

Gateway Theatre’s 2017 / 2018 season got underway this week with a lavish performance of Stephen Sondheim’s classic A Little Night Music.

A co-presentation with Patrick Street Productions, and directed by Peter Jorgensen, the Tony award winning musical is set in Sweden at the turn of the last century.  A tale of romance and class structure,  as characters deal with forbidden lust, infidelity, long-lost loves,  jealousy and reminisce about past liaisons. Through the characters’ trials and tribulations of love Jorgensen lets the comedy of the situations shine through.  The director took inspiration from Ingmar Bergman, the director of the source film of the musical, Smiles of  Summer Night, finding comedy in tragedy.  Patrick Street Productions and Jogensen have added their modern touch to the show with hints of sexual fluidity in the maid Petra’s character.

Kimmel & Wright
photo: Emily Cooper

Led by the always dependable Warren Kimmel as Fredrick Egerman, and Katey Wright as Desiree Armfeldt, who both have the acting and musical talents to all eyes on them when they’re onstage.  The cast also included stand-out turns from Arinea Hermans and Caleb Di Pomponio as Fredrick’s virgin (2nd) bride and his angst-ridden son, Henrick. Nick Fontaine’s Count Carl-Magnus and Lindsay Warnock as his put-upon wife, Countess Charlotte provide scenery chewing comedy performances. Young Elizabeth Irving displays talent beyond her years as Desiree’s daughter, Fredricka.  The capable ensemble rounds out the cast, making the performance light and breezy, in spite of its 2.5 hour run time.  Coming towards the end of the show, the musical gets late energy boost from the famed Send In The Clowns.  Throughout the show, Sondheim’s music, and Hugh Wheeler’s book, share the storytelling duties effortlessly.  Alan Brodie’s simple set and lighting design help to highlight Jessica Bayntun’s lush, period costumes.

Set & Lighting Design by Alan Brodie, photo by Emily Cooper.jpg

Find your own reasons to love and laugh as A Little Night Music continues at Gateway Theatre until October 21st.

John Legend – Darkness & Light Tour

John Legend – Rogers Arena – June 1, 2017

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.