Great Big Sea at the Woodland Park Zoo, 7/29/2010

There’s only one thing really that could have kept me from writing this up in a timely fashion–and that’s the simple fact that I’ve been working all weekend with on our entry for the Great Big Karaoke Contest! But I assure you, I’m still in a warm and fuzzy afterglow from Thursday’s awesome show.

This time around we didn’t get quite as much long, protracted banter as we did the last time the B’ys played the zoo–but we did get quite a bit of delicious Murray-focused banter, as well as sly remarks about how the sun beating down on the stage clearly meant the lads were going to have to start taking off some clothes. Compare and contrast this to how Lillian and Moira, ages 4 and 3, loudly demanded for me to take them up front to the dancing area and got me going around in circles with them singing “Donkey Riding” at the top of our lungs. That’s a Great Big Sea show for you, folks. Vast, and containing multitudes!

Since we had such a disparate set of people all converging on the zoo, we decided to do our rendezvous in waves. Wave 1 was me, , , , and the children, since Paul and I had decided to take a four day weekend–so we’d have time to wander around the zoo before the show. Plus, we figured the kids would enjoy it! So those of us from the Murkworks headed down in the early afternoon. Traffic was sucking, so we wound up taking a Sekrit Ninja Route into the zoo.

And it was very lucky we did, because we wound up right behind a very familiar looking tour bus.

“Hey Anna!” Dara said. “Guess who’s in that bus!” My reply didn’t really translate well into English, but if I transcribe it phonetically, it comes out something like “eeeeEEEeEEeeeee!”

Paul was a good sport and let us out of the car to go see where the bus went, and on the way, a woman with four small children with her said to me, “You’ve got your Olympic gear on! Are you also Great Big Sea groupies?” (Because I was wearing the light blue hoodie I’d gotten in Vancouver in February, y’see, when we went up there for the GBS show during the Olympics!) I replied in the affirmative, and was amused to see that she had no compunction whatsoever about bustling right up to the bus with the children in tow.

Dara and I did not. (Our restraint, let me show you it!) Besides, we had to go in and get lunch, prior to meeting up with Kathryn and our own pair of Smalls. So we got in some food, a bit of looking at penguins, and a bit of looking at the Bug House as well.

Mellow Penguin Says Hi
Mellow Penguin Says Hi

Not terribly surprisingly, the hardcore fan crowd had already started staking out the inside line, the one they have for people who actually pay to get into the zoo. Definitely not surprisingly, I spotted superfan Lynda Elstad and exchanged a few pleasant words with her; I’m sure she’ll have some awesome video up on her YouTube channel soon enough. Lynda was particularly amused to see me wearing my Sea of No Cares baseball-style t-shirt, since mine is actually still wearable! (I take real good care of that shirt and only break it out for shows at this point, really!)

Speaking of video, Dara started taking opportunities to shoot amusing bits of digital footage for us to use in our own video! There’s a great boat right next to the penguin exhibit, as well as an anchor off in a little rocky nook, and we used both of these to what we’re pretty sure is great effect. I’m not posting pics of that though because that’ll be going into the video and we want to save that for when the video’s actually completed.

When we met up with Kathryn, she had two very bouncy little girls with her, and she was quite amused to tell me about how she’d been parceling out the news about today’s excursion to Lily, her little girl. On Monday, she’d said they were coming to the zoo. On Tuesday, that Moira would be joining her. On Wednesday, that there would be MUSIC at the zoo. And that very morning, she’d finally said that Great Big Sea would be there!

Mind you, these are two little girls who love to have me play them the Great Big DVD whenever they come over–or at least, the first song! So Lily piped up to me that “You know what? THE DONKEY RIDING BAND is going to be here!” as soon as she sat down beside me. Heartwarming, I tell you, to see a tiny fangirl taking shape. <3 I assured her that yes, I knew that.

Once we all had food in us we took the children out to show them more bits of the zoo to keep them occupied for a bit. That meant more penguins, a brief jaunt into the jaguar run, a stop at the bears, and eventually back to the penguins. On the way we all got ice cream, much to the children's general pleasure. And since the children both got ice creams shaped like Pink Panther heads, Dara co-opted them into the video footage. They may be making a cameo! (The ice creams, that is, not the children.)

Jaguar Says Zzzzz
Jaguar Says Zzzzz

Around 4pm or so we sent Kathryn and Paul and the children to hold our spot in the line while Dara and I went back into the zoo to shoot some footage of her pretending to sing her lines for the contest video at various birds in the Bird House, which was fun! (Also, bonus points for the Bird House selling you seed sticks to attract the birds to come down and nom right out of your hand.) She also got some bits of me walking and singing, which’ll hopefully mesh well into the video once I figure out how the hell to do that.

eventually called us to alert us that she’d arrived and snagged a spot in the outside line. Which was fabulous, except we’d already snagged a spot in the inside line! So I wound up being an ambassador between both staked out spots, since I was the Keeper of the Tickets. and met up with us out there; and Clint actually found Kathryn in the zoo, and I sent in to join the others when he arrived. was last to show up, and once his tickets were handed off, we were all safely able to head into the meadow!

Once we got into the North Meadow we wound up splitting into three groups. Kathryn, Erik, Jessica, and Clint held a back island of blankets, since Jessica and Clint had their Extremely Tiny Baby Jamison with them–and we’re talking really tiny, folks, this kid is a scant three weeks old. I’m pretty damn sure he was the tiniest person at the show. And a very handsome albeit sleepy child he was, too. They wanted room for the girls to run around as well, since Moira and Lillian are very active little girls.

Mimi, Jenny, and Paul took a station farther forward, with a better view of the stage. Dara and I dropped stuff up there with them for a bit–and Lillian begged to be allowed to come up there with me, which her parents allowed once I got her to promise that if she needed me to take her back to her mommy and daddy, she’d let me know. Lily got a big kick though out of me carrying her around in the crowd so she could see everything, and more than once she squealed “GREAT BIG SEA!” Especially when I showed her the stage where the B’ys would be.

And Dara and me? We TOTALLY aimed for the dancing area set up forward and to the immediate right of the stage, which I’m given to understand had been won by express begging from the fine folks of the OKP. Go OKPers! Sarah came with us, and at least for a little while, so did Moira and Lily! I only diverted long enough to find the swag table and get me a new shirt. And I spent a bit of time playing phone tag with , who eventually did find me in the dancing area!

Jessica, Moira’s mommy, and Erik, Lily’s daddy, came forward with us briefly just to make sure they knew where the kids would be–and Erik actually hung out with us for most of the first set, just because he wanted to see how the girls would react to seeing the Actual Great Big Sea Men singing on the stage. It was great fun, I gotta say, to see the kids getting into it. They didn’t necessarily watch the stage much, but they did run around a lot singing. I got oriented right on the edge of the dancing area, where there was a spot of open grass between the dancers and the fence. Just enough room for small girls to run and dance and jump. Shelley, the main OKPer organizing the dancing crowd, found us and even danced around in a circle a bit with the girls, singing “Donkey Riding”. :) :)

We didn’t get an opening act. Which was fortunate, given I was trying to keep tabs on the kids AND on the B’ys at the same time! Nor did we get “Donkey Riding” as the first song as I was hoping–but it did indeed show up second, and the kids ate that right up.

Which, of course, brings me to the main event! This concert’s Set List of Awesome, as near as I can recreate from my notes as well as judicious cross-checking with the OKP folks:

First set:

  • Nothing But a Song
  • Donkey Riding
  • Love Me Tonight
  • The Night Pat Murphy Died
  • When I’m Up
  • Jack Hinks
  • Safe Upon the Shore
  • Charlie Horse
  • Everything Shines
  • Good People
  • Yankee Sailor
  • Lukey

Through about half of the first set, I spent as much time boinging around with the kids between the dancers and the fence as I did actually looking at the stage. Moira and Lily weren’t consistent in their attention, but that was fine–they’re toddlers! They did seem to appreciate the once or twice I got them right up to the rope so they could actually see stuff, and Moira asked me once to get her onto my shoulders. (Moira’s big for a four year old, though, and I didn’t have enough strength in my arms to hoist her up that high.) Still, though, Erik clued in I was falling behind on my fangirling, and staunchly offered to take the kids back to the others in back after a few songs. THANK YOU ERIK! You’re a trooper.

Now then, as for the actual songs, I’ll go ahead and say that “Nothing But a Song” is fast growing on me–since I remember this one very favorably from the Bremerton show last November. Also, though, this is indeed the song Dara and I are working on for the contest! So it was great fun to hear this one opening the show.

Weird to hear “Donkey Riding” next, but as long it was there I was happy! And again, great fun for the kids. I more heard this one than watched it, since I was busy chasing the kids around. Didn’t see Séan singing, but his bodhran was loud and clear.

After “Love Me Tonight”, Alan remarked upon the sunlight pouring down upon the stage. “Turn down the sun!” he cried. And I believe it was here that Séan announced that if the sun didn’t get turned down, they were going to have to start taking off some clothes.

For the intro to “Paddy Murphy” this time around, I’m blanking on who all got loaded drunk, but it was definitely “Alan Doyle was feeling gay!” Me: .oO (Really? DAMN!) Muaha.

You’d think that after well over a dozen GBS shows and approximately 98,348 repeat listens of the songs in question, I’d be able to tell the difference between the intro to “Jack Hinks” and the intro to “Lukey”. Nope! Not yet! It doesn’t help that Alan lays down pretty much the same rhythmic pattern to lead into both songs, so they sound almost identical to me even though “Jack Hinks” is in F and “Lukey” is in G. But what the hell, they’re both awesome.

I mention “Jack Hinks” though by way of noting Alan saying he had “animal fever”–and then segueing into how he’d had possibly the greatest hamburger he’d ever had, at a local chain of ours, Dick’s. He rhapsodized quite a bit about this, calling that burger a life-changing experience! (And I gotta back him up on this, people. ‘Cause Dick’s hamburgers are seriously, seriously tasty. But I digress!)

Next after that came a song I wasn’t actually expecting to hear in live performance, but which I was delighted to hear nonetheless: “Safe Upon the Shore”, which is currently duking it out with “Nothing But a Song” for my favorite track off the new album. Séan was a bit ragged on the sound, but hit all his notes quite nicely nonetheless, and oh my yes the harmonies on the choruses. Yum yum yum.

They gave Murray a really nice shoutout, too, since he worked with Séan to write that song. This led to a LOT of manly ragging on Foster–and Séan asserting, “I think he should take some clothes off.” Alan goaded him into revealing his “porn star name”, using the meme of “your first pet” and “the street where you grew up”. Murray therefore came out as “Buttons Green Lane”, although Kris was even better with “Cuddles Campbell”.

“Charlie Horse” and “Everything Shines” led eventually over to “Good People”, again off the new album. This isn’t one of my preferred tracks, but I did find this one notable on the stage since Alan broke out a banjo, an instrument I am NOT accustomed to seeing him wield, and Bob had some harmonica action going! Not surprisingly, Séan inquired of the audience if there were any good people out there tonight, and got a lively roar back in response. Afterwards, he declared he was turning the stage over to “the lovely Alan Doyle”.

Which led into a very, very nice solo performance of Alan’s on “Yankee Sailor”, which at this point I think is possibly my third favorite song off the new album. He gave us a lengthy explanation of what the song was about, as well, which put it into some lovely context; Dara told me afterward that she liked the song better once she understood it was about a Newfoundlander reacting to his love being swept off her feet by an American sailor during World War II.

For bonus neatness, while Alan was explaining that a whole generation of Newfoundland women had emigrated to the States because of meeting American soldiers and sailors, somebody in the audience not too far ahead of me yelled, “My mother!” Alan immediately reacted to this, and affirmed that “I don’t make this stuff up!”

And after that, his performance of the song was quite lovely indeed. Damn, that man can play him some guitar.

Solo Alan
Solo Alan

Last but most assuredly not least, we got “Lukey”, and I ended the first set a happy fangirl indeed, as “Lukey” is definitely one of the songs I need to make it feel like a proper show. What really rocked about this performance of it, though, was that we got Alan yelling “THE BASS IS SEXY”–and leading right into solos out of Murray and Kris. Long-time fans will remember that in the days of Darrell, live performances of “Lukey” had on the second bridge a tradeoff of bass riffs out of Darrell and bodhran out of Séan, and for the longest time after Darrell left, we lost that.

It was seriously awesome to see Murray get to do that with Séan this time though. :D And when Kris jumped in on the end of that set of riffs, with strikes on the cowbell, I had to LOL. Because if anything could make “Lukey” even more awesome, it’d be MOAR COWBELL!

And now, the second set:

  • Chemical Worker’s Song
  • Captain Kidd
  • England
  • Dear Home Town
  • When I Am King
  • General Taylor
  • Scolding Wife
  • Medley: I Fought the Law/Summer of ’69/500 Miles/Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Run Run Away
  • Helmethead
  • Consequence Free
  • Mari Mac
  • Ordinary Day
  • Encore: Excursion Around the Bay/Fortune/Rant and Roar

I am still giddy with glee that “Chemical Worker’s Song” has come back into the concert lineup. As I’ve mentioned before in posts, this is a favorite of my jamming group–and now I can belt out a harmony line for this one without even blinking. (In fact, a lady standing next to me in the crowd turned to me after the song was done and said I had a great voice! Aw! *^_^*;;)

That said, the B’ys ate this one alive as they always do, and Séan yea and verily BROUGHT IT with the bodhran.

“Captain Kidd” was awesome for me not only for the song itself but for this being the point in the concert where I got SURPRISE MONICA! Long-time OKPers will remember her as Old Brown’s Daughter in the earlier days of the OKP, and of course one of the original Murkjammers. Very fun to find her in the crowd since I haven’t been able to jam with her in too damn long.

It was after this song that Alan and Séan started remarking upon how good we all looked: the dancers, the sitters, and all, and that we were definitely the “prettier people coast” and that they had no idea what their ancestors had been thinking! Which led quite nicely into “England”.

We got us a lovely whistle solo out of Bob for that one, and after, Alan making the obligatory commentary about how well Safe Upon the Shore is doing on both the Canadian and U.S. charts. “140-160 is the comfort zone!” he proclaimed of the U.S. chart position, and that anything above 140 is really kind of sucky. Sporfle! Séan though did observe that he’d kind of like to get into double digits!

“Dear Home Town” was next, and the last of the songs off the new album. This got us one more comment out of Alan, to wit, that the record has been described as “The Record of the Decade”. Which was promptly shot down by Séan, who answered, “That was your mother.”

“When I Am King” was suitably smokin’, and WOO HOO “General Taylor”! <3 Again, Séan was kind of ragged and rough-sounding, but he did get in some lovely vocal acrobatics on the final verse and chorus, and those of us down in the dancing area did our best to sing along. Even though that The McCann, crafty bastard that he is, pulled a key change on us too!

In "Scolding Wife, which is always an “AW YEAH BRING IT” experience for me, Séan’s verse was “caught me by the meerkat”. Hee hee hee.

Next up: the Great Big Singalong Medley! Alan called upon all the singers in the house (where for this purpose the part of “the house” was of course being played by “the meadow”) to bring it, and much fun was had by all.

This got us into the home stretch, and bringing out the Big Guns: “Consequence Free”, “Mari Mac”, and “Ordinary Day”. Which was entirely as it SHOULD BE! Dara and I deployed the Cascadian Flag and engaged in suitable Vertical Movement.

The encore was the expected trio of “Excursion Around the Bay” (with Alan mostly talking his way through the opening verse before they really got the vocals fired back up), “Fortune” (LAST CHANCE TO DANCE), and, of course, “Rant and Roar”.

Don’t think I didn’t think about lurking around the fence to see if any of the band would linger–because I DID. But Paul was our driver and he had to get us home lest the cats go berserk from being unfed. And at any rate, Sarah thoroughly distracted me by handing me a shiny, shiny thing:

Guitar Pick of Awesomeness
Guitar Pick of Awesomeness

This, ladies and gentlemen, is a guitar pick from the hand of Alan Doyle himself. Sarah saw it fall and scarfed it for me, and presented it to me with great satisfaction at the conclusion of the show! In exchange, since she said she quite liked “Chemical Worker’s Song”, I took her over to the swag table and got her a copy of Up, GBS’ third album. I figure this was a very fair trade.

And that was a damn fine conclusion to the show, indeed!