Great Big Sea at Malkin Bowl, Vancouver BC, 9/12/09

And now, ladies and gentlemen, the highlight of userinfosolarbird, userinforavyngyngvar, and my trip to Vancouver: the Great Big Sea concert at Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park, Saturday night, September the 12th!

Fangirly squealing behind the fold, and this time, y’all, thanks to my beloved Dara, I am bringing pictures. There are links off to suitable tasty videos as well, and mad props to OKPers sticckler and katy for those!

As I said in this post over here, round about four or so on Saturday afternoon we headed off from Granville Island on the Aquabus to get over False Creek and reach the spot where we needed to catch the 19 to get to Stanley Park. This gave me a bit of a turn as we saw a 19 going past us just as we were approaching the stop–but fortunately another one arrived shortly after. And on that bus, it turned out, was fellow OKPer Tamsin!

Who, I must note, had actually posted to me when I’d gotten up that morning, asking if Dara and I had been the ones at Conflikt who were belting out Great Big Sea songs and being stunned when others knew them. Yes, said I, we were! And I described myself on the post and encouraged him and any other OKPers to keep an eye out for me. This advice worked swimmingly since Tamsin was sitting only a seat or two back from us, and we promptly struck up a conversation that lasted all the way to the park.

There were unsurprisingly a whole bunch of folks coming in, going the same way we were, and a couple other folks followed us since we looked like we knew where we were going. Which was not exactly the case, but fortunately we didn’t have very far to walk at all from where the bus dropped us off. We found the line very quickly, and I spotted userinfogerimaple very close to the front. Suitable greetings were exchanged before my little party stepped further back along the line to claim our own spot. I did have to venture off briefly to look for bottled water, for which my search was not successful. I did however spot the very same wedding party who’d stopped our Aquabus for photos, which was funny. One assumes they were actually getting married in the park, though if so, one also hopes they were planning to utilize the background concert noise for music!

Once they let us in, Dara and I led the way to choose a spot about midway along the fence between the seats and the General Admission area, from which we had a decent line of sight to the stage. Steve actually had a spot in the seated section up close to the front, so we had to part ways then–though he did meet us at the fence for further yakking before the show actually started, and he was agog to learn that we possess one of the few cassette copies of userinfofilkertom‘s The Rocky Horror Muppet Show, which we promised to digitize for him as soon as we could. Had I been thinking, I’d have brought along blankets to sit on, but it was all good; the ground was still reasonably dry and it ain’t like I was going to stay sitting down through the important part of the show, anyway!

Got Yngvar a black GBS shirt, and various foodstuffs were acquired as well. I did not actually buy myself a shirt, but only because of lack of immediate cash on hand, and the swag table guy didn’t take VISA. I will damn well be getting a shirt at the November show! Dara played her bamboo piccolo to kill time, and a young boy came up to ask her about it and said it was very beautiful. Yay. :)

We did stay sitting down through most of the first set by the Skydiggers. They seemed to have at least some fans in the audience, and they had some albums and shirts on sale, and I saw at least one shirt being bought. They’re kind of folksy, and they’re a duo, one guy on guitar and one singing lead. The lead singer also plays harmonica, and sometimes both guys harmonize. But eh, overall they just didn’t work for Dara or me. We were really rather bored through most of the set and wound up singing our own lyrics into each others’ ears. Though all that said, I will grant that the guitarist did have a really nice little solo on their last song.

But then they finished up after a 45-minute set. And it was time for the obligatory standing on the feet, clapping of the hands, and beginning of the GREAT! BIG! SEA! susurration all over the audience. The B’ys started a bit late, I think–but they were out and on stage by around 8:20, with the familiar and loved and proper way to start a concert. Which is to say, “Donkey Riding”. <3 It is my tradition with these GBS concert reports to give you a brief description of what all the B'ys were wearing, but this time? I've got pictures, courtesy of Dara, who has a very good camera and knows damn well how to use it. (I tried to take pics on my iPhone–they sucked, in no small part because by the time the B’ys were on stage, it was good and dark and my iPhone’s camera couldn’t cope with the light levels.)

First up I’ll give you Kris, unobtrusive guy that he is behind the four front-liners, at his rightful place at the drums. I know he’s wearing brown only because there’s pictoral evidence here; I barely glimpsed him from my vantage point during the actual show!

Kris at the Drumkit
Kris at the Drumkit

Next I give you Murray, dashingly arrayed in jeans and a long-sleeved olive-colored shirt. Take especial note of the shirt. This is important later!

Green Shirt Murray
Green Shirt Murray

Then over on the opposite end of the stage, I’ll bring you Bob Hallett, looking severe with short-cropped hair and dressed all in black–and wielding, in this shot, his Action Fiddle! (Dara did very well with this one.) And, since this photo is two B’ys for the price of one, note also Séan McCann with much more reasonable hair than he had earlier this year, light jeans and a light blue T-shirt. Also, if you look real close, you can see that Séan ditched his shoes!

Action Fiddle Bob and Barefoot Sean
Action Fiddle Bob and Barefoot Sean

And of course, last but most assuredly not least, the one, the only, the King I’d certainly vote for, Alan The Doyle. Looking disheveled, scruffy, and bearded!

Bearded Alan With Bouzouki
Bearded Alan With Bouzouki

And now, with the obligatory ogling out of the way, I can bring you the Set List!

  • Donkey Riding
  • Captain Kidd
  • Love Me Tonight
  • The Night Pat Murphy Died
  • When I’m Up
  • Lukey
  • The River Driver
  • A Boat Like Gideon Brown
  • Ferryland Sealer
  • Everything Shines
  • When I Am King
  • Feel It Turn
  • Beat the Drum
  • I’m a Rover
  • Sea of No Cares
  • Here and Now
  • John Barbour
  • Consequence Free
  • Mari-Mac
  • Ordinary Day
  • Encore: Captain Wedderburn, Old Black Rum, Rant and Roar

Like I said above, it was delightful and proper and right to have the concert start off with “Donkey Riding”. It just doesn’t feel like a proper start to a GBS show with anything else! And right out of the gate, Dara and I leapt in with singing along with everything. Yngvar had lamented to me before that he hoped he wouldn’t look strange being the only one in the audience who didn’t know the words; I assured him, no worries, I’d sing enough for both of us. Dara and I had his back. ;) As far back as we were, we could actually hear ourselves, and we periodically sang harmony! It was awesome. <3 I must also note that out of the gate, Dara had come to the concert armed with her Cascadia flag, and for that matter, a Canada flag as well since we didn’t have a proper Newfoundland one. I had been going to wave the Canada flag while she waved the Cascadia one, but the Cascadia flag was big enough that it really needed both of us to take it on! As Yngvar ably captured with his own picture, posted by Dara over here.

But I digress! Anyway, we started singing our hearts out, right through “Captain Kidd” and “Love Me Tonight”, the latter of which I was quite happy to have in the set list since it really is one of my favorites off of Fortune’s Favour, and it’s a good thing to have at the beginning of a concert as well with the “I wonder if you’ll love me tonight” lyric.

After that was Alan’s first real banter to the crowd: “Stanley Park is beautiful tonight! And the only thing comparable to its beauty is Séan McCann!” Who, Alan proceeded to then inform us, had “passed a very personal manhood test.” What exactly this was was not specified, but suffice to say that Séan was more than sufficiently brawny of voice for “Paddy Murphy”! Murray got in some suitably brawny bass playing, too–Alan kept pointing at him during the song to draw audience attention to him.

“When I’m Up” came armed and dangerous, with Alan’s usual milking it, and some damn fine fiddle playing from Bob on the solo. I listened for but did not hear Alan’s traditional shoutout “That’s a fiddle player from St. John’s, Newfoundland!”, but hey, I’m pretty sure the audience all knew who Bob is by now.

Leading next into “Lukey”, Alan informed us all that we had a responsibility, since this was the last show of the summer: to bless the ground of the park with as much warmth and humanity as possible. Pretty much the same intro he gave before “Jack Hinks” in the show the night before, it turned out, as I discovered when I went hunting for video. Still, as song intro banter, it was quite appropriate and certainly good for firing up the crowd for “Lukey”–not that we really needed much encouragement. This is “Lukey” we’re talking about, after all. If my iPhone had been up to the challenge, I’d have tried to get a good shot of the audience with every last pair of hands in the air, clapping. Still a wonderful sight to see, even after seeing it several times at GBS shows now. And lots and lots of voices, of course, bellowing A HA ME BOYS A RIDDLE AYE DAY!

Afterwards Alan praised us for our “good singing”, and was all “look at the crowd! I feel like a rock star!” Séan promptly replied that he looked like a rock star, with his “long hair and sexy beard”. Cue appropriate fangirly reactions from all over the crowd, before the B’ys then went into a bit of banter about Vancouver and all its varieties of coffee. Séan complained he still had heart palpitations from all the coffee he’d had that day, though he and Alan both swore up and down that they had good food at a place called Joe Forte’s. And further swore that no, they hadn’t been paid to endorse them. Ha!

But oh my, “The River Driver” was next; talk about your fangirly reactions. Alan was in magnificent voice on this song. And, lucky us, OKPer sticckler scored video! Go listen. Right now. Preferably with headphones on. I’m doing it right now as I write this!

Pretty, ain’t it? Now imagine that singing a lot louder, a lot fuller, and resounding through an entire park. FANGIRLY REACTIONS, I’m telling you. Also: note the awesome bass rumble Murray’s bringing to the song. YUM.

Next up: “A Boat Like Gideon Brown”, with the traditional banter about this song being about envying your neighbor’s boat. This time around, though, Alan inquired afterwards of Séan, who’d actually been to Fogo Island, whether he’d noticed a lot of people envying one another’s boats there. Séan did not, and inquired in turn of Bob whether he remembered anything about the Boat Incident. Bob drawled that it’d had a lot to do with canoes.

Alan also noted that this was Séan and Bob’s twentieth year playing together in a band, which got a lot of cheers from the crowd, and brotherly hugging on the parts of Séan and Bob. Aw.

After that, much to my delight because I couldn’t remember ever hearing this one live at all and we’ve recently tried to play it in Jam: “Ferryland Sealer”. Which, I am delighted to report, Séan ate for tasty, tasty dinner.

Once “Ferryland Sealer” (which I still want to read as “Faerieland Sealer”, but this is what I get for being a fantasy novelist), Séan looked musingly out to the crowd and announced that he smelled burning toast. Alan wryly replied, “That’s not toast, my friend!” Somebody in the crowd was indeed making with the pot; Dara and I had both smelled something being smoked, though it wasn’t close enough to us to really be distinguishable beyond that. So no telling where it actually was!

Anyway, this was also where Alan broke out the Les Paul for the first time, yay! And this led into (video courtesy of OKPer Katy) reggae improv on “Everybody party!” Much snickering on the stage resulted from this, and I think it was Séan who said, “You weren’t expecting THAT, were you?” And Alan was all “What’s better than white guys from Newfoundland singing reggae?” The Les Paul, of course, meant that we were heading into “When I am King”, and we got more reggae on the bridge as well, which was lulzworthy. After that, we got the usual banter about how Alan being King can happen. “There’s an election very soon!” he proclaimed. “I might run!”

This turned out really to be a lovely concert for breaking out songs from Turn–because in addition to “Ferryland Sealer”, we also got “Feel It Turn”. Séan milked the words beautifully, and I for one was very happy to get this song since I’d just recently gone through all the old videos on the Great Big DVD, including that song, and it was lovely to be reminded about this one. It was apparently lovely for Alan, too, because after the song he turned to Séan, said he’d enjoyed his singing, and added, “I love your band!” Hee.

Somebody shouted something to Séan at this point too that I couldn’t hear, but whatever it was, it provoked Séan into answering, “If you think this is the simple plan concert, you’ve had too much pot!”

The audience wasn’t done shouting at the B’ys, though. Somebody shouted for “Old Black Rum”, and Alan assured them that they didn’t need to yell for requests, because “tonight we’re doing all the hits!” Somebody else yelled “I LOVE YOU” and Alan leered and rumbled back, “And I love you.” Cue the fangirly cheering, to which The Doyle went on, “No no, don’t applaud! This is really disgusting love! This is Amsterdam love!” Jokes were made too about Alan seeing a doorman in Amsterdam who looked like Sam the Eagle, too.

And, aw hell, OKPer katy caught that entire bit of banter right here!

Finally we swung into “Beat the Drum”, and after that, “I’m a Rover”, a song which Séan informed us was for the ladies, “a song for all the bouncy bits. We’re not interested in the boys’ bouncy bits!” (Right here was when Dara bellowed “Neither are we!” Muahaha.) And! A dancer jumped up up on the stage, and did a dance while the B’ys were singing! I’m not sure, but it’s distinctly possible that that was the same girl I saw at the show at the Moore last October, in which case she’s apparently gotten in good with the band if she gets to do this more. Ha! She was great, too, and for maximum lulz, she smacked all the B’ys’ bums as she scampered offstage.

In the middle of the song, too, Séan mangled the lyrics and I distinctly heard him singing “Until the morning, we drank black rum!”

“Sea of No Cares” came next, which apparently had a bit of a false start that I missed or something, because afterwards Alan cracked a joke about “sometimes I give the boys false set lists!” He proceeded to extrapolate this out to claiming that the show was entirely lip-synched, and then lamented, “I am in such trouble with the band! Does anybody need a singer?” Hee!

“Here and Now” off the new album was next, and I noted a lower melody line than usual on it, presumably for ease of singing it live.

Next: the mighty, the inimitable, the incomparable “John Barbour”. I happily moaned out loud when I realized it was coming, and I was not disappointed. I just had to dial down my impulse to sing along so I could actually hear Séan, though I did sing softly anyway. And I did mention to Yngvar beside me that this was the only GBS song in which Séan sang all by himself.

After this was another burst of deeply silly banter, and Alan revisiting his oft-voiced query about “I often wonder, what do all the other bands do? The ones without Bob?” His conclusion? Every other band in the world sucks. (Again, courtesy of OKPer katy!) Muahaha. Lots of Séan giving Alan shit for that one, and how “THAT will make us friends on the Internets!” Alan rallied and opined that it would be awesome to see Bob in AC/DC. Har!

With all that silliness out of the way, we were in the home stretch then, and in rapid succession got “Consequence Free”, “Mari-Mac”, and of course, “Ordinary Day”. By then Dara and I were going nuts with the flag, not caring that we were far enough back from the stage for anybody to really see us (and by anybody I mean “the band”); me, I was firmly of the mind that if there was any song fit for flag waving, it was by god “Ordinary Day”. Had I had a Newfoundland flag with me, I’d have seriously considered running up and down the length of the GA area fence with it!

We only got one encore, I fear, but “Captain Wedderburn” started it off, again with a callback clear back to “Turn”. Afterwards Alan complimented Murray on his shirt, and bantered about its Scout-like color, and how he figured Murray was wearing it “ironically”. “You heard it here first! Every other band sucks, and Murray hates the Scouts!” As the audience chortled over that, Alan added, “I hate children!”

Kris got some surprising attention at this point. Somebody in the audience I was way too far back to really see or hear called something up to the stage and got Alan to lean over to her, and Alan in turn got Kris over to her to lean down and listen to her. Immediate jokes were made about a marriage proposal. Hee. ^_^

Then, finally, in belated reply to the eager audience member, we did get “Old Black Rum”. By then my voice was wearing out, but I pulled it back together on general principle for “Rant and Roar”.

Lovely, lovely ending to a lovely, lovely show.

Everybody in the crowd peacefully dispersed, and a great many of us trundled off to the busses waiting out on the curb. Steve caught up with Dara and Yngvar and me, and we missed the first round of people getting onto a 19. But we caught the next one, and it was then that we met OKPer sticckler and her friends. And she showed me her snippet of “The Mermaid” from the previous night’s show, which I was overjoyed to see, since we didn’t get that in our set list at all. (And to which I will link you now, because seriously, folks, check out the Mad Dance Skillz of The McCann!)

We eventually bid a cheerful farewell to Steve and sticckler alike, and once we got off the bus, Dara and I kept bursting into random bits of song as we walked along the sidewalk. We were in the middle of the chorus of “Ordinary Day” when a bunch of people wearing a bunch of inflatable beach toys went past us, and they all made approving noises at our singing. That was a hell of a fun note to end a hell of a fun evening; I love Vancouver so much.

Especially with Great Big Sea in it. <3

Published by

Angela Korra'ti

As Angela Highland, Angela is the writer of the Rebels of Adalonia epic fantasy series with Carina Press. As Angela Korra'ti, she writes the Free Court of Seattle urban fantasy series. She's also an amateur musician and devoted fan of Newfoundland and Quebecois traditional music.