Energetic crowd swept away by Great Big Sea

West coast openers Spirit of the West delight with Celtic rock

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea performing

Gazette File Photo

UH OH, ONLY FIVE PICKS LEFT. BETTER CALL THE ROADIES. Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea rocks out while on tour in 2002, which featured a stop at London’s Western Fair.

Great Big Sea rocked the John Labatt Centre Thursday night leaving the audience wanting more. The Canadian folk-rock band from Newfoundland drew a large audience ranging from teens to grandparents " all of whom were dancing in their seats.

Great Big Sea has been recording and performing across Canada for 15 years now, having formed an enormous fan base " all of whom enjoy coming together to enjoy the fast tempoed, happy music. Great Big Sea’s music has often been described as “drinking music,” as many of its lyrics refer to drinking such as songs like “The Night that Pat Murphy Died” and “The Old Black Rum.”

Vancouver’s Spirit of the West opened the show with its Celtic influenced songs including the band’s most famous track, “Home for a Rest.” This was not the first time these east coast and west coast bands performed in London, Ontario together, as Great Big Sea opened up for Spirit of the West during a performance at Western in the late 1990s.

Great Big Sea’s high-energy music and witty banter made for a phenomenal show from start to finish. The band’s set list was extensive, including tracks from all 10 of its albums.

Older songs such as “When I’m Up (I Can’t Get Down),” “Consequence Free” and “Ordinary Day” had the audience singing at the top of their lungs while newer songs like “Love Me Tonight” and “Straight to Hell” were well received. Surprisingly, one of Great Big Sea’s most famous tracks, “End of the World” " its cover of the R.E.M. hit " was not performed.

Great Big Sea did an amazing job at keeping vigour high throughout the show. About halfway through its set, the band conducted a group sing-along with a blend of famous tracks such as The Proclaimer’s “500 Miles” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” which was enjoyed by all.

Spirit of the West accompanied Great Big Sea’s three-song encore. This combination formed the ultimate folk music group.

London was just one of the many stops on Great Big Sea’s 2009 tour to promote its 10th album, Fortune’s Favour. More than any of Great Big Sea’s other albums, Fortune’s Favour fuses traditional Newfoundland music with a mainstream pop sound.

The tour started last June when the album was released and will wrap up on March 29 at the Juno Awards, where they will perform. Currently nominated in the best group category, Great Big Sea has been nominated for a Juno 10 times, but has not won as of yet.

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