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Archive for the ‘Concert’ Category

Yes, still in Banff, still in Canada.  Last night, my husband and I went to see Gordon Lightfoot at the Banff Centre, a lovely performing arts center that seats about 900 people.  The concert was pleasant.  It is obvious that Lightfoot is aging but he still knows how to entertain.

The point of this post is not a critique of the concert, however.  It is to comment on Canadian behavior again.  I know, I did that before.  But it is so refreshing that it brightens my day on a frequent basis and I really want to share it.  Perhaps it will be contagious and those in the US will “catch” it.  Actually, it reminds me of the US in the years when I was young, when the US was a nation with civility (not political correctness), a desire to help others (not just via volunteer agencies) and gregariousness (not wariness).  Those are qualities I see in Canada.

When people sit around you at an event in Canada, they strike up a conversation.  I’m not talking about a simple, grudging “Hi.”  I’m mean real conversation.  “Hello.  Where are you from?  Massachusetts?  What part of MA?  I’ve met people from MA before, but from the Boston area.  What brings you to Western Canada?  Have you gone to ______?  I think you’d really like it.  What do you do for work?  Have you ever seen Gordon Lightfoot (or the hockey team or any other group) before?  I saw them ______ when I was in my 20’s.”

It doesn’t even have to be a big event.  This kind of interchange can occur in a restaurant, a bank, a store or a museum.  Canadians, or at least almost all of the Canadians we have met, both here in the West and in the eastern provinces we have visited, are outgoing, courteous, curious and well-informed about their neighbors to the south.  I wish we could say that about US citizens these days.  But having visited all 50 states, I have to admit that just hasn’t been our experience.

A prime example of this Canadian difference was something we observed last evening as we were leaving the concert.  We had gotten our car from the garage and were proceeding up the driveway to the roadway.  We had no trouble getting into the line of traffic, since Canadian courtesy extends to driving as well as direct personal interactions.

The driveway had a slight grade to it with a stop sign at the top.  The vehicle in front of us stopped and we stopped as well, leaving a good car length between us and that car.  It was a fortunate decision.  Whether due to a patch of ice that would not allow the tires to catch any traction or due to the possibility that the driver was new at driving a standard transmission, every time that car in front of us tried to advance, it rolled backwards a bit.  After the third episode, my husband sounded the horn lightly to let him know he was getting close to our front bumper.

THAT’S WHEN IT HAPPENED!

I called it a “Canadian assistance flash mob” in the title because that was the thing that came to mind as I watched it.  Presumably alerted by hearing our horn, numerous pedestrians – men and women – converged on the car in front of us.  Everyone found a place to latch on to the vehicle which was having difficulty.  There must have been 15 to 20 people who gathered along and behind that car to push it and help the driver get out of his predicament.  As soon as the vehicle was moving forward, the small crowd disbursed and went on their ways.  We were able to proceed on our way as well.

But we were really impressed by that spontaneous event.  As we drove back to our room, we noted how things would have been different at home.  One important difference is that this would not have been the kind of thing that happened so spontaneously.  At home, people would have looked at each other, perhaps asked each other what the problem was, discussed the foolishness of the driver for getting into the situation and then moved along.  A few might have dared to ask what the problem was but felt that, alone or being so few, there was nothing they could do.  They’d have walked away, perhaps feeling a bit guilty for not helping.

If someone at home had been able to convince a group to help, they’d have hung around after to pat each other on the back for being such generous folks.

Last night there was no conference to decide how to fix the problem and there was no self-congratulation.  People recognized the problem, reacted to help in a totally appropriate way without needing to be convinced then left immediately because you don’t need to congratulate yourself or others for doing the right thing.

It happened so automatically and fast that it did indeed remind me of a “flash mob” — and it was just as entertaining in its own way.

One more reason to love Canada and Canadians!

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Before I got into my concert review, let me preface this post by admonishing you that you should not, if at all possible, buy concert tickets months ahead and then plan to fly across country unexpectedly at 6 AM the next morning.  I say this from experience because that is exactly what I am doing.  In fact, I’m writing this in O’Hare Airport in Chicago as I try to stay awake between legs of my flight from Hartford, CT to Rapid City, SD.  But more on the trip another time.  Suffice it to say that, if you are 59 years old, it isn’t as easy to stay up over 24 hours as you recall from your youth.

Now – to the concert.  It was good.  Not great, but good.  Actually, 2 of the 3 bands were great and the one that wasn’t might surprise you.

Night Ranger opened the night.  I had not heard of them before (I’ve led a sheltered life, I guess – kidding!) but I am open-minded when it comes to music.  They were actually quite good, with plenty of energy and enough personality to warm up the late arriving crowd.  I particularly enjoyed a song titled “When You Close Your Eyes.”  Their set was not long, as you would expect for an opening act and perhaps deserved to be longer.

Foreigner, a favorite of my husband’s, performed next.  They were fabulous.  Yes, I had heard of them.  Yes, I like their music.  But they were even better in live performance, in my humble and musically uneducated opinion.  The energy they had was nothing short of phenomenal.  They hit every cue.  They truly entertained as well as singing their hearts out!  I would definitely go to see them again.

I had seen Journey in concert last year, when they were touring with Heart.  It had been a fabulous concert.  I would rank it in the top concerts I’ve been to.  Arnel Pineda was astounding in that concert – sounding so much like Steven Perry that you had to pay attention to remember that it was not Perry singing.  So of course I had high expectations for Journey last night.

Journey was a disappointment this time.  For all the running and jumping around that Arnel Pineda did, Journey lacked energy musically.  The songs they chose for their program were unfortunate.  They decided to include several new selections, which would have perhaps been okay had they not put them all consecutively.  The audience did not recognize them.  You could feel the energy that had been building in the audience dissipate like a rapidly deflating balloon,

The biggest disappointment was Arnel Pineda himself.  He was as bad last night as he had been great in the previous concert I saw.  He seemed to forget words, seemed to be singing at a different tempo than the rest of the band and seemed more interested in making contact with the ladies in the audience than in the music.  I mused about the possible reasons as they performed.  Fatigue?  But the rest of the band had been on the same tour.  Illness?  Possible.  I hoped so – because the third thing that came to mind, based on how he looked when they did close-ups of him on the video screens was that he was high on something that was not enhancing his performance.  Whatever the cause, the result was really bad music.

There were actually a couple of things that made an impression on me that were not related to the music.  One was the venue.  The concert took place at the Comcast Center in Mansfield, MA.  I had been there twice before, but not for quite some time.  It is an outdoor venue with a covered pavilion, additional uncovered seating and lawn seating, all in an amphitheater style.  I found that it was quite a climb uphill before heading back down to our seats in the covered area.  The seats were not very comfortable, which may be a good part of the reason many fans, who had paid for “seats,” chose to stand for almost the entire concert.  I had to switch seats with my husband after a short time because the man who was seated on the other side of me (with my fibromyalgia I cannot stand) was having a great time standing and dancing.  I, on the other hand, was not enjoying his butt in my face as he invaded my “seat space” with his dance.  I don’t begrudge anyone the right to dance and have fun at a concert, but I really didn’t enjoy his act.  There was a couple in the row in front of us who typified those who have no respect for others.  They stood for the entire show.  When people behind them asked them to sit, this couple told them they should stand too, if they wanted to see.  The fact is that many people like me have “invisible disabilities” that prevent them from doing that.  Exuberance is one thing.  Rudeness and disrespect is quite another.

There was some kind of fire that caused a foul odor and smoke.  No one was evacuated and I have no idea what was burning.  I do know that it was putrid.  The upper level rest rooms were abysmal.  The toilets would not flush due to weak water pressure.  After a while I’m sure they weren’t flushing for other reasons.  I didn’t go back to those rest rooms.  The lower level did not seem to have the same issue.

You may think me strange for saying this, but the thing that impressed me most through the night had nothing to do with musicians, fans or venue.  What impressed me most was the stage crew.

The sets for Night Ranger and Foreigner were different and required some changes but the changes were small – rearrange the stairs and instruments.  However, the set used by Journey was entirely different.  The crew removed every bit of the first set, right down to the mats on the stage, then replaced it with the video screens, signage and instruments that Journey required (I wished their music had been as well done as their set).  That doesn’t sound like a big deal for guys (and one gal) who do this for a living, I guess.  But the fact that it was all done in 15 minutes was amazing!!  That was it – 15 minutes and Journey could take the stage.  I wondered why the Commonwealth of Massachusetts cannot find road construction crews who work that quickly and that well!!

By the time we got home from the concert it was 12:30 AM today.  If I had gone to sleep, I’d have had to get up at 3 AM to get ready to leave for the airport.  I’d never have done it.  So I stayed up, finished packing and hoped to get some sleep on the planes.  Since I’m finishing this on the second leg of my trip to SD, you can see that “sleep on the plane” thing didn’t work.

I ought to sleep really well tonight!!  I think the concert was worth it . . . I think.

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