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Great Big Sea at Mile One – St John's Review

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Great Big Sea at Mile One – St John’s Review

Great Big Sea at Mile One - Photo Cred: Shawn Peckford

Great Big Sea at Mile One – Photo Cred: Shawn Peckford

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Who: Great Big Sea
From: St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada
Where: Mile One Stadium, St. John’s, NL.
When: April 27th, 2013

Style: Traditional Newfoundland folk music sprinkled with a dash of rock and roll.

Crowd: While the show hadn’t sold out, people still flocked to the stadium and there was only a scattered empty seat available once show time arrived. The crowd was rather diverse with people of all ages in attendance. There were kids bouncing about on their parents shoulders and older folks with their white hair gleaming in the lights as they clapped along. One thing that most everyone in the crowd had in common though, is that they were incredibly proud and enthusiastic Newfoundlanders. They gave Great Big Sea quite a boisterous welcome home. As soon as the band took the stage and played their first note, the crowd roared in excitement. Everyone in the stadium was on their feet, clapping, stomping, and screaming. It was quite obvious the crowd was incredibly happy to have the band back on The Rock.

Stage: Great Big Sea is a band filled with humble Newfoundlanders, they let the music speak for itself, and don’t need an elaborate backdrop or anything fancy to put off a great show. I’ve seen them multiple times and there’s never been an extravagant stage up. Even though this was the 20th anniversary tour, the only thing they had was a projector flashing images behind them of their music videos. It was set up between two giant x’s (the roman numeral for 20.)

Image/sex appeal: As mentioned earlier, this band is all about the music. They have no gimmick or sexy outfits to draw attention to them, but rather wear jeans and t-shirts to their gigs on a regular basis. This however, was a 20th anniversary show, so while most of the band did opt for the traditional t-shirt and jean combo, a few members broke out a suit and tie for the occasion.

Music Ability: The music ability shown by this group of folks is astounding. Five incredibly talented musicians flawlessly create beautiful harmonies and switch up instruments effortlessly between songs. These are not your basic instruments either. They switched with ease from guitar to harmonica, accordion, flute, mandolin, and boron without any issue whatsoever.

Originality: This group is one of (possibly the only) band to take traditional Newfoundland music to international levels. I think that’s incredibly original. Many bands have mimicked that blend of traditional Newfoundland music with rock, but none have mastered it like these guys.

Technicalities: Great Big Sea has had the same sound/tech team with them for many years and this show was the last after about 9 weeks of touring. They have it pretty much perfected at this point, and there were no technical issues whatsoever. The sound was completely flawless.

Memorable Moment: As this was their 20th anniversary tour, the band made an effort to play most of their hit tunes, and that included one from the first album that they hadn’t played live in many years, “What Are Ya At?” They introduced it by playing the tv commercial for a telephone company that helped make the song known. This got a few laughs from the audience, but once they started playing the song, the crowd roared in excitement once again and sang along happily. This was one of the few tunes where the crowd could be heard singing over the band.

Memorable Song: While there were a lot of songs that really got the crowd going, Lukey’s Boat is the one that stuck out most to me. I’m pretty sure everyone in the stadium was singing along, stamping and clapping. For this song, it felt as if the stadium had momentarily turned into one huge kitchen party.

Comments: In the past 20 years I’ve been lucky to watch this band grow and progress. I’ve seen them multiple times throughout their career and witnessed some fantastic, energetic performances by them, but this one far surpassed them all. The Great Big Sea guys have honed and completely mastered their craft and it is truly evident when seeing them live. Several times throughout their set Alan Doyle said, “good to be home, I tell ya.” You could easily tell by their actions that the whole band agreed as they put their heart and soul into the last set of their tour. It was amazing to see it unfold as the crowd responded with immense passion and pride. This was by far the best show I’ve ever seen these people play.

By: Christa Cram
Photos By: Shawn Peckford

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