March 12th, 2009. Halifax Metro Centre
Fellow Concert Goer: Dave Marsh
Headliner: Great Big Sea
Supporting: Spirit of the West
I haven't sat down and listened to a Great Big Sea album straight through since my days of jr. high when I loved the band. They were the first band that I was obsessed with. Now I rarely listen to them, but as the concert was going on I was thinking about how they paved the way for me listening to other music. The fact that I connected with so many traditional songs spoke to me about how humans seem to have this inkling in them to connect with music. It also troubled me that I could sing "Old Black Rum" word for word after not hearing the song for so long. This was my second time seeing GBS, the first time being November 23rd, 2002. The only reason I know that date is because I was looking back and found my ticket stub for that show recently.
So six and a half years later, I got to see them again. First of all they are a great live band, they know how to get the audience into the show. This could be through asking the crowd if it was a disco or if this was Halifax...or Alan Doyle declaring that he wanted to see everybody on their feet. With the squeezebox, violin, guitars, and Newfoundlanders ranting and roaring, it is rather hard to stay in your seat and sit still. There was also lots of interaction with the crowd as all members of the band told personal stories about their times in Halifax including a few too many nights at the Lower Deck.
Secondly, they are a talented band. While their mix of traditional shanty songs along side original rockers may not be ones cup of tea, there is no denying they are talented. All members of the band played a variety of instruments throughout the night. Also Sean McCann, the shanty man, has great range with his voice. He can both sing at a million miles per hour - as demonstrated during Mari Mac- or he can hold a high note for a long time as demonstrated during General Taylor.
The band also honoured the families and victims of a tragic helicopter accident off the coast of Newfoundland (where they are from) which happened earlier in the day.
So my conclusion: It was a really fun night. It was fun to belt out songs that meant so much to me as a kid. It was fun to be entertained. It was great to appreciate the fine muscians who are Great Big Sea.
And also it was fun to sing Old Black Rum word for word.