After putting in a full day at the media centre I must admit that, when I stepped outside and saw the snow falling, the very last thing I wanted to do was stand in the cold all evening. There was only one thing that compelled me to abandon all thoughts of enjoying the warmth of my living-room while sitting beside a fire, glass of wine in hand.
IT WAS GREAT BIG SEA!
THE Great Big Sea. If ever there was a time for a big ole' kitchen party, Nova Scotia's mid-February-sloppy-snowy-slushy-slump season was that time. Sure, it was over two hours before these folks were scheduled to perform but ... IT WAS GREAT BIG SEA! This would be THE kitchen party!
All thoughts of warm houses, crackling fires and mellow Merlot were abandoned the minute I arrived at Celebration Square; the fellows were on stage and just finishing their sound-check and the crowd was already forming. Volunteers were unpacking boxes and boxes of LED goggles – and there were new colours! That was it. I was in. And given the reason behind what promised to be a most awesome concert was, of course, the 2011 Canada Games, I must mention that Team Nova Scotia deserves a Personal Best in the 'First Team To Pick Up Their Cool Goggles' event.
While I was busy chatting with folks and trying to shoot and tweet about all the pre-concert excitement without losing my fingers to frostbite, what began as a small gathering quickly became a throng as thousands of people of all ages vied for space in – and around – Celebration Square. And while this likely helped the temperature situation, it wasn't the weather folks were discussing. Nope, the main topic seemed to be about who was opening for Great Big Sea.
Jeremy Fisher already had quite a following as a very talented one-man show and has collaborated in the past with Great Big Sea. And when he took to the stage it was easy to see why; Mr. Fisher is, indeed, a great entertainer! He sang, he played, he joked. And he was pretty quick on his feet; when he announced to everyone that he was a little thrown by the warm air blowing directly at his face, he immediately realised that his audience did not have that, er, 'problem' and he quickly dropped the subject. Just to be clear, I do not begrudge any musician any such warm air. After all, I came to see them play – not blow on their fingers and drop their guitars, drumsticks or phones (oh wait, that last one was me, sorry).
As happy as the crowd was to see Mr. Fisher, they were ready for the main attraction. And, what a main attraction. As Great Big Sea band members Alan Doyle, Sean McCann, Bob Hallett, Murray Foster and Kris MacFarlane played, sang and danced – and asked the very willing crowd to sing and dance along with them – the snow continued to fall. And from where I stood, the timing could not have been more perfect. You could never manufacture a special effect to replicate what the audience experienced. The snow danced with the lights and we saw the band members' breath as they sang their songs of ice fields and Newfoundland lore. Although Alan Doyle indicated he'd be pleased to perform for the summer Canada Games, I wonder if he could duplicate that atmosphere?
After two encores and a declaration from Mr. Doyle that it was "still early!" the band left the stage and the crowd grudgingly dispersed. And six hours after questioning whether or not I had the steam to stay in Halifax for the concert, I too was sad to leave. Nonetheless, I was heading home to a warm house, a nice fire and glass of wine. After all, it was still early!