Sunday, October 04, 2009
Great Big Sea in Glen Ellyn
Well I have to say that what could have been less than a good performance by the by's turned into one of the best shows I have seen them put on. The show was at the MacAnnich Arts Center at the College of Dupage, a place where I'd never been before. The theater holds about 850 people and the sound there was really good, especially when compared with the sound at House of Blues last March when they were here. The only thing is, the crowd was a bit strange for a GBS show. More refined and less rowdy. There are a large number of big money donors who get free and/or discounted seats and probably go to all the performances put on through out the year. Put that with the probability that most of them probably live in Glen Ellyn, Oak Brook, and some of the other more affluent suburbs and that would explain why the crowd was a bit more subdued. I think some of them may have had no idea what happens at a GBS show. Siobhan and some other people stood up to clap and dance pretty early on during the first set and they were told to sit down; that's never happened at any of the 6 previous shows I've seen them at. It's impossible to stay in your seat when Alan Doyle is constantly telling people to "Make some noise" "Clap your hands" and saying "Come on every body up". Any GBS fan knows that this band is a full out audience participation band. Which after seeing them 7 times still amazes me. I mean, these guys are a group of folk singers from Newfoundland! Anyway, the problem of the more wet blanket audience members in the balcony was solved by those of us who wanted to dance crawling over the wet blankets (and I mean over, as in hopping rows of seats with people in them rather than walking around) to the back of the balcony where you could stand and dance and sing without bothering anybody too much. And I have to say the show was excellent. They started almost right on time; maybe 10 minutes late. They played 2 sets. The first was shorter and it included some songs I haven't heard them do in awhile like The Chemical Workers Song and Ferryland Sealer. They ended the first set with Run Run Away. There was a short intermission and then they came back and really outdid themselves with a longer and even better set. I think they were trying to get all of the audience involved and they did a fine job of it. There was the usual comedic banter; at one point Alan was saying how they had been picking on Murray so much that he was a little sorry for him. Siobhan yelled out "We love you Murray" and Sean made up a little impromptu song right on the spot. It went something like "We love you Murray cause you're cuddly and furry". We'll never hear the end of that from her I'm sure. The encores were great too; there were 2 of them and they played 7 songs. I don't have a set list but this a list of what they did in no particular order. Captain Kidd, Jack Hinks, Sweet Forget Me Not, Charlie Horse, Gideon Brown, Donkey Riding, Tshialuk Girls/Billy Peddle (they opened the 2nd set with that), Scolding Wife, Paddy Murphy, When I am King, Straight to Hell, Here and Now, John Barbour, England, General Taylor, Helmethead, Ordinary Day, Chemical Workers Song, Ferryland Sealer, Run Run Away, Bob did a solo of the old Irish tune Butcher Boy (I wonder if that will end up on a new album?), Consequence Free, Mary Mac, I'm a Rover (this was preceded by Sean doing a lead in of "Oh What A Night"), Old Black Rum, Lukeys Boat, Excursion Round the Bay/Fortune (part of the encore like it always is) and they ended the night with Rant and Roar. I may have forgotten something, but this list is pretty close to complete. All in all it was a great show, especially the second set. The two times I've seen them at the Metro were a little better I think, although I think that was more the crowd than the band. And by the end of the second set it was a lot better. If it hadn't been for the crowd, this could have been better than the Metro shows. The energy was there and the band was doing their damndest to get everybody up and into it. I said to Siobhan on the way home that some of those people who had no idea what kind of show it was going to be walked out of there GBS fans last night.
Being the fans that we are I did something that I've never done before; even in my heydey of seeing rock bands in the 70's. We had located the bus before the show, and as soon as we got out of there we went and stood in front of the drive where it was parked. It was cold and windy and a little rainy and at 51 years old I stood there in the weather with Siobhan and some other people, hoping for a chance at a picture or an autograph or whatever. After about 20 minutes there started to be a little activity, and then maybe 15 minutes after that they started loading equiptment. A nice man from Halifax came out and asked if we were waiting for autographs. He said the band was already on the bus and they weren't really inclined to come back out in the cold and wet,(although compared to some of the Newfoundland weather I've experienced I'd say it was almost balmy) but he would get us autographs. There were programs printed up (that was a first, too) they had a nice picture of the band so the few of us who were brave enough to stand out in the crappy weather got them signed. I actually had misplaced mine (I think it got lost when we crawled over the seats) but Sio had hers and that was more important anyway.