Until last night, I had never attended a professional concert. I had seen high school/college bands play, but never a pro, touring band. That all changed yesterday, when I popped my concert cherry with my favorite band, Great Big Sea. I could not have asked for better.
They played at the South Shore Music Circus in Cohasset, which is essentially a bunch of food kiosks surrounding a large circus tent with a stage in the middle. We had amazing seats, not 10 feet from the stage. The show opened with another Canadian musician, Chris Velan. Cody and I were both surprised by Velan; he was an excellent musician, and did some great stuff using a recording/playback box controlled by his feet. He’d use it to drum on his guitar, keep that drum beat going throughout the song, and then mix in guitar licks. The effect was five or six musicians’ worth of music, all played by one guy with an acoustic guitar.
After a 20 minute intermission, Great Big Sea took the stage with Donkey Riding, and followed with a playlist that included several songs I hadn’t yet heard (and which I have yet to identify), as well as: A Boat Like Gideon Brown (also new to me), Beat the Drum (also new to me, and a new favorite), Captain Kidd, Consequence Free, Everything Shines, General Taylor, I’m a Rover, Jack Hinks, Mari-Mac, The Night Pat Murphy Died, Ordinary Day, and When I’m Up.
They modified the chorus for Pat Murphy from “Some of the girls got loaded drunk, and they ain’t been sober yet” to “The Massachusetts girls got loaded drunk, but what can you expect?” At one point, Sean—whose hair is getting longer—randomly broke into My Way, as well. After they left the stage, the crowd started chanting “Great Big Sea!” and they encored (surely pre-planned) with The Old Black Rum.
There were a couple of really young girls there (couldn’t have been more than 5 years old) and throughout the show, Alan—now sporting a mighty beard, presumably from his role as Allan A’Dayle in Ridley Scott‘s upcoming Robin Hood film, starring Russell Crowe—would give them guitar picks. It was very cute. They bantered quite a bit, much to the entertainment of the audience. Alan lamented that they were the only band to have played at the South Shore Music Circus that hadn’t been on Letterman, which prompted much of the audience to shout that Conan was better anyway. At one point, Sean noticed that his beater finger (Alan: “Is that a euphemism I should know about?”) had a blister since it had been so long since they’d last played. An audience member supplied him with a band-aid, which he made a great show of putting on. He then held out the now-bandaged middle finger to Alan, demanding that he kiss it. He also claimed that the lozenges(?) he was eating throughout the show were pure methamphetamine.
Later, Alan and Sean were discussing in what direction the band would go next, raising the possibility of folk music. They didn’t know how to define folk music, though, so they asked Bob, who responded, “I play folk music.” We were in the section closest to Bob, and it was fantastic watching him play the accordion and fiddle. The man is a master. During one song, while Sean was singing, Alan came over to our section and asked everyone in the first few rows “Are you having fun? Are you having fun?” It’s great how much they really care that their audience has a good time.
All in all, they played for close to two hours, without a break (except the pre-encore interlude of perhaps two minutes). Absolutely phenomenal.