Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Gord, Julie, Chris and Dave
First off, Downie and his band put on a wonderful show. Those of you familiar with his work with The Tragically Hip know he is a unique front man, who likes to bring something new to the stage with each tour. On his own, Downie is able to let a lot more of his creativity come forth. Playing soft-seat halls instead of the Hip's usual hockey rinks, he's a much more happy-go-lucky, chatty, and spontaneous performer.
On this tour, Downie trots out selections from his three solo albums, plus a cover of a rarely-heard Dylan song, Going Going Gone from Planet Waves. There's not a Hip hit to be heard. Nobody in this packed theatre seemed to mind. Just his presence was enough, as Downie's entrance brought the first standing ovation of the night. Then we were greeted not with music, but a slice of his poetry, a totally unexpected start to a rock show, and a welcome and successful one. While the rest of his Country of Miracles colleagues sauntered on and started playing, Downie moved to an on-stage overhead projector, and placed a large cut-out of a moon on the screen, which filled the back wall of the stage. Throughout the show, he'd draw, make water-oil-and-dye sculptures, and generally give us a whole new wall of images to go along with the show. Leave it to Downie to bring a multi-media event, another example of his desire to add the artistic to his rock as much as possible.
On stage was Downie's most constant companion in his solo ventures, singer and guitarist/bassist/drummer Julie Doiron, who first met Downie back in the '90's when her band Eric's Trip toured with the Hip. Since then he's name-checked the group's Love, Tara album in a Hip tune, and signed up Julie to record and tour. On stage, the normally quiet Doiron gets to live out her rockin' fantasies, dancing, pounding and generally being electric, even playing Downie's love interest in one tune, which features the two in a full duet, complete with choreography. The D and D show is one of the highlights of the night.
Anyway, I liked the show. I wanted to head backstage after, mostly to say hi to Julie, who is an old friend, as we're both NB'ers. Eric's Trip even played the book launch for the Top 100 Canadian Albums three years ago in Halifax. Her manager, Peter Rowan, is another old pal, a Fredericton boy who has been instrumental in the careers of the Trip, Julie, Sloan, and a founder of the Halifax Pop Explosion as well as other cool Canadian Indie scene things. He was there, and back stage we went.
Chatting with Julie went well as always, and then Downie dropped into the Green Room. I've interviewed him before, but not met in person, and I was glad to do so. He's a generous, funny man, open for a music talk or whatever, curious, and ..well..this was the good part... he took a genuine interest in The Top 100 Singles Book. In fact, it was hard to get it back from him. It was my copy, and I wanted to get him to sign it. I do that with the musicians in the book. And then, surprise, it was Downie who pointed out another musician from the book was there. Dave Clark, who is drumming with the Country of Miracles, is also represented.. He's an original Rheostatic, and was still in the group when they recorded Claire, which is at #42 in the survey, and Dave quickly found his picture. Plus, Julie is in the book, as there's a picture of Eric's Trip performing at the Halifax launch for the albums book, and they were in that one, Love, Tara getting into the Top 100 Albums. And I almost forgot that Christ Thompson, the Trip guitarist, was with us too, coming along with Rowan and myself and Singles juror Meghan Scott (Tuck and Roll Productions) to the after-show get-together. So, I came away with four signatures, and even better, some pretty cool reaction from Gord Downie and Dave Clark, both of them positive about the new book. I like it when the musicians are happy.