Thursday, July 31, 2008

Viva Coldplay!!

I'm back in the city after a couple of weeks away...just in time for the Coldplay concert at the Air Canada Centre last night.

If you're expecting a concert review, you've come to the wrong place. There is no way I could write an unbiased review so if you want to read about the concert, you can read a review here.

There are not many artists who will get me to the ACC (for those who don't know - it's a 15000 seating capacity arena). Coldplay is one of those that I would go anywhere to see.

I prefer to see bands when they are not as well known and are playing smaller venues. Fortunately, my favourite bands are British so although they play arenas in England, most are not as well known in North America so they will play 500-2000 capacity venues here. There's nothing like getting up close and personal with your favourite artists:

James Blunt at the Mod Club in 2005

Keane performing part of Fly To Me and Leaving So Soon at Kool Haus in 2007 (he comes closer to where I am)

At small venues, you can really feel the music...see the singer's emotions, the guitarist's skill, the keyboardist's fingers or the drummer's efforts. You can see the sweat pour from their bodies. You can see the interaction between the band members and between the band and the audience. It can give you a new appreciation for the songs. You really feel like they are playing for you.

As great as small venues can be, there is something to be said for arena shows.

My first concert at the Air Canada Centre was U2 from the second last row (almost behind the stage). Being so far away gives you an appreciation for the spectacle and the crowd, but it's not ideal (especially sound wise).

U2 ACC Sept 2005 (not my photo - but basically my view)

I saw Coldplay in 2006 from the lower bowl across from the stage at the ACC. The sound was much better. The view was great because we're elevated but they are so far away. I thought this would be my last Air Canada Centre concert.

But then, when I managed to get 3rd row floor seats for James Blunt, I couldn't resist.

I Really Want You performed at Air Canada Centre 2006.

Last night I was 30th row on the floors. It felt like a small venue because everyone was standing up from beginning to end. The confetti also fell on the floor crowd, which was a bonus. The seats are closer together on the floor (rather than in the stands) so you feel more part of the audience but having rows means that you're that much further from the stage (as compared with a small venue). In the stands, the row ahead of you is lower (as well as the stage) so your view of the stage is better.

Last night, I loved hearing the crowd sing and seeing people dancing. I did capture a few short moments.

Fix You Air Canada Centre July 30th, 2008

The beginning of Viva La Vida. I had hoped to record more for my son (as it's now his favourite song), but (to his chagrin) I decided to enjoy the moment and dance instead (perhaps in hindsight I would have preferred to get a bit more, but oh well...I really loved it last night and will remember that).

There is a fine line between getting enough footage (photos/videos) to preserve the memory and being too busy trying to capture the moment that you actually miss the live moment.

Unfortunately, in order to get a great photo, you do have to take a few. I am learning with experience when the chances are better to get a great photo (depending on the lighting). There were many songs I was able to fully appreciate last night because I knew there was no way to capture them well. So I completely enjoyed those songs. When the lighting was better, I snapped away and managed to get better photos than I expected from my location.

I was trying to decide if last night's concert was my best concert ever. It's difficult to compare them. Coldplay at the Kool Haus was so intimate, but it did not have the production of their arena shows. X&Y wasn't released yet for the intimate gig. Many of the songs were not known to the audience so the audience participation wasn't as great. The crowd participation definitely adds to the concert experience. Screaming women don't help the James Blunt concerts. Keane don't get the widespread audience participation that Coldplay get (yet). I haven't been close enough to U2 to have them be my best concert ever.

I love seeing the different perspective from different venues and different views. There are positives and negatives to all of them. It's difficult to choose just one concert as my favourite, but this one definitely is up there. Floor seats at an arena combines the intimacy of a small venue with the spectacle of an arena show. Perfect combination.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

John Mayer

I saw John Mayer perform at the outdoor Molson Amphitheatre on Monday night. I'm not embarrassed to say I've liked John Mayer for years, even when his live CD's are drowned out by screaming girls. I really liked the show and as I reported on Facebook...I really enjoyed his warm summer blues sounds. My wife just shared a review article that sums up the concert so well, I couldn't have said it better.

Pic from
mayerecho's Flickr photostream.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Patriotic (and not so patriotic) lyrics

This week, we are celebrating Canada Day and Independence Day. And on this fourth of July, I am thinking of my friends and family south of the border and hoping they are enjoying their day. In celebration, I am sharing some lyrics about both countries.

Starting with Canada:

(One little two little three Canadians)
We love thee
(Now we are twenty million)
(Four little five little six little Provinces)
Proud and free
(Now we are ten and the Territories sea to sea)
(CA-NA-DA (or the Centennial Song))
I still have a 45 of this song (perhaps I shouldn't admit to this as it wasn't mine originally - probably my parents or older sister - they may claim it back)

Another summer day
Has come and gone away
In Paris and Rome
But I wanna go home
(Home by Michael Bublé)

The morning light steals across my windowpane
Where webs of snow are driftin'
If I could only have you near
To breathe a sigh or two
I would be happy just to hold the hands I love
Upon this winter's night with you
And to be once again with with you
(Song for a winter's song by Gordon Lightfoot)

Un Canadien errant,
Banni de ses foyers,
Parcourait en pleurant
Des pays étrangers.
An errant ‘Canadien’
Banished from his homeland
Weeping, he travels on
Wandering through foreign lands
(Un Canadien errant written in 1842 by Antoine Gérin-Lajoie after the Lower Canada Rebellion)
(also recorded by Leonard Cohen in 1979)

There is a town in north Ontario,
With dream comfort memory to spare,
And in my mind
I still need a place to go,
All my changes were there.
(Helpless by Neil Young - I know the k.d. Lang version)

Ain't no school bus (ain't no school bus)
Ain't no streetcar (ain't no streetcar)
Ain't no subway car (ain't no subway car)
The Spadina bus (the Spadina bus)
(Spadina Bus by The Shuffle Demons)

Coo roo coo coo coo coo coo coo...
Take off to the great white north
Its a beauty way to go
Take off to the great white north
(Take Off by Bob and Doug McKenzie)

or if you prefer

On the 6th day of Christmas my true love game to me
6 packs of 2-4
5 golden tuques
4 pounds of back bacon
3 french toasts
2 turtle necks
and a beer in a tree

Everything's gone wrong
Since Canada came along
Blame Canada
(Blame Canada as heard on South Park)

For my friends in the U.S.:

Some folks like to get away, take a holiday from the neighborhood
Hop a flight to miami beach or hollywood.
Im taking a greyhound on the hudson river line
Im in a new york state of mind.
(New York State of Mind by Billy Joel)

I want to wake up in a city that doesn't sleep
(New York New York by Frank Sinatra)

Everybody's gone surfin'
Surfin' USA

Brotherly love.
(Philadelphia by Neil Young)

There is a house in New Orleans
They call the Rising Sun
(the House of the Rising Sun by The Animals and by U2/Green Day - see below)

New birth...rebirth...Trombone Shorty
Living like birds in the magnolia trees
Child on the rooftop, mother on her knees
Her sign reads Please!!! I am an American!!!!
(The Saints Are Coming by U2 and Green Day as performed live at the New Orleans Saints game)

Do you know what it means
to miss New Orleans
and miss it each night and day

From the lakes of Minnesota, to the hills of Tennessee,
across the plains of Texas, from sea to shining sea,
From Detroit down to Houston and New York to LA,
Well, there’s pride in every American heart,
and it’s time to stand and say:
I'm proud to be an American
(God Bless the U.S.A. by Lee Greenwood)

America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
(America the Beautiful)

Songs that have been used for both countries:

Mon pays ce n'est pas un pays, c'est l'hiver (my country is not a country, it is winter)
Mon jardin ce n'est pas un jardin, c'est la plaine (my garden is not a garden, it's the plain)
Mon chemin ce n'est pas un chemin, c'est la neige (my road is not a road, it is snow)
Mon pays ce n'est pas un pays, c'est l'hiver (my country is not a country, it is winter)
(Mon pays by Gilles Vigneault)

I'm a star in New York, I'm a star in L.A.
In my life there's no place for the man that I love
'Cause I'm livin' my life just to sing and be free
From L.A. to New York, from New York to L.A.
(From New York to L.A. performed by Patsy Gallant to the tune of Mon Pays)

Don't want to be an American idiot.
One nation controlled by the media.
Information age of hysteria.
It's calling out to idiot America.
(American Idiot by Green Day)

Don't wanna be a Canadian idiot
Don't wanna be some beer swillin' hockey nut
And do I look like some frostbitten hose-head?
I never learned my alphabet from A to Zed
(Canadian Idiot by Weird Al Yankovic)

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.
(This Land Is Your Land by Woody Guthrie)

This land is your land, this land is my land
From Banavista, to Vancouver Island
From the Arctic Circle to the Great Lakes waters,
This land was made for you and me.
(recorded by The Travellers in 1955)

And to finish off, back to classic Canadian songs:

Hello out there we're on the air it's hockey night tonite
Tension grows the whistle blows-& the puck goes down the ice.
The goalie jumps and the players bump and the fans all go insane
Someone roars "Bobby scores!" at the good ole hockey game
(The Hockey Song by Stompin Tom Connors)

Last but not least (no lyrics needed),