Halifax is hosting the Canada Games, and as part of the two weeks of games and such is a free concert series. It's at an outdoor venue, usually called Parade Square but renamed Celebration Square for the games. I missed Joel Plaskett last week, but I did catch Hey Rosetta! and Great Big Sea. The outdoor venue made for some long, cold nights. Because the shows were free, we expected big turn outs and got there an hour before the opening act went on. The first night we went was the worst: we were numb before the first act even went on. It was totally worth it, mind you. The second night we went, it was a bit warmer (and snowing). Getting there early ensured that we were nice and close to the stage. I love being close to the performers. I’d never been that close to someone who knows Russell Crowe before!
Hey Rosetta! played on Wednesday. The opening act for them was The Novaks, a Newfoundland band that I'd never heard of. I liked their sound, but wasn't impressed by the lyrics. They did a good live show, though, and the lead singer was totally channelling a young Jagger.
Hey Rosetta! I've liked for a while now, but had never seen them live. They have a great sound, and great lyrics. They're one of those bands with lots of people in it, and they regularly use non-standard instruments, like the upright bass. They played most of my favourites and lots of new stuff. I really want their new album. If you get a chance to see them, you should. I will definitely go see them again if they come back to town.
Opening for GBS was Jeremy Fisher, another act I hadn't heard of, although I had heard at least one of his songs before. I really enjoyed him. He gave shout-outs to every single province and territory, but left out Manitoba. From the distance we were at, he kind of looked liked the BBC's new Sherlock Holmes, if Sherlock Holmes had Sideshow Bob hair. He put on a good show though.
Great Big Sea always puts on a good show. They're a guaranteed good time, and it seems like they were enjoying themselves too. The majority of the audience, I would say, knew all the songs. I didn’t know them all, but I knew enough. I apologise to all the GBS fans out there, but despite how great the show was, my favourite part was when they played a U2 song.
Towards the end of the show, they did a sing along where they played the opening bars for a song and got the audience to sing it. Not necessarily their songs, but popular songs that most people would know the lyrics to. I was surprised and impressed that so many people could sing most of “Summer of ‘69” with no prompt aside from the opening strings. Give yourself a minute and see if you can do it. I forget most the songs they played, but they did a snippet of the U2 song With or Without You, specifically the chorus and the shouty “ohh” of the song (U2 songs are full of shouty/chanty bits that are awesome live because you can really belt it out). It was just so great to sing along to a U2 song with a crowd. That’s one of my favourite parts of U2 concerts, is when the audience carries the song. It’s such a great feeling. It’s fun to sing along to other bands during live shows, but it’s such a different feeling (for me) when it’s aU2 song. So, the GBS concert left me ridiculously excited for the two U2 shows I’m seeing in July.