Great Big Sea @ Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Bethel, NY

Live Reviews | May 8th, 2010

Great Big Sea
Photo by Bryan Kremkau

(Great Big Sea in Tarrytown, NY – October 2009)
Date: May 7th, 2010
Opening Band: Corb Lund and the Hurtin’ Albertans

A Great Big Sea concert will guarantee two things: sore hands and a good time! You’ll end up having sore hands because from clapping the entire concert! Sore hands didn’t stop me from enjoying this concert that’s for sure! The boys from Newfoundland played the beautiful event gallery at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Bethel, NY; kicking off the 2010 concert season at Bethel Woods. Bethel Woods is located at the original Woodstock site and is perhaps one of my favorite venues to see a show. Beautiful grounds, friendly staff and just a peaceful atmosphere.

Originally when I heard Great Big Sea were playing at Bethel Woods, I thought it might be outside in the big pavilion area. I didn’t think they’d be able to fill that up but who knows, they certainly have a dedicated fan base that are willing to drive many hours to see them. The show last night was sold out and the crowd was ready to clap and dance…well at least one section of the event gallery. I’ve never been inside the event gallery before, but it was gorgeous. As Alan Doyle put it, it’s like The Da Vinci Code mysterious-ness, and part ski lodge. The high ceilings were perfect for an inside concert, plus I was scoping the place out in case I would like to get married there. Yes, Bethel Woods holds weddings as well!

But anyway, the opening act for Great Big Sea was Alberta, Canada’s Corb Lund and The Hurtin’ Albertans. I have never seen an opening act with GBS before so I thought that was interesting. I didn’t know what to expect from the band but I ended up really liking their music. It’s just another example of my style of music expanding. Corb Lund and his band The Hurtin’ Albertans play twangy alternative country mixed in with folk rock. The Bethel Woods crowd seemed to enjoy his set, I know I did. I especially liked their songs when they used the slide guitar. I just love the sound of it. Corb Lund had a similar singing style to Justin Townes Earle. He had songs about drinking, riding horses, cavalries, and of course whiskey. Definitely worth checking out if you think Corb Lund is your type of style.

Great Big Sea came out around 9pm and definitely didn’t disappoint! But then again, they never do. Each concert is filled with fun songs to dance & sing to. Plus, the guys are extremely funny in-between songs. Talented musicians, comedians, and now Alan Doyle can add actor to his resume now. His debut in the big budgeted movie Robin Hood will be coming out May 14th, which is next week. I think that’s the reason why the show was postponed to May 7th. The show was originally on April 24th but I think Alan was doing the torturous Hollywood Foreign Press junket tour for the movie. Alan is probably so sick of talking about the movie that he never even mentioned it. I would have at least told people to go see it. Should be interesting to Alan in a movie like that and not think of him as one of the frontman of the Great Big Sea.

The band started off with the usual, “Donkey Riding” and the crowd was up and clapping. The stage left side was standing the entire time. The side I was on, stood on and off throughout the performance. I like to sit down for the slow songs, and stand up & dance in place for the upbeat songs. As soon as the band started, all the kids in attendance headed up front to dance in front of the band. That threw the guys off a little, as Alan was shaking hands with all of them. It felt like the band was walking around eggshells with some of their banter and subjects of their songs. Which made for hysterical in-between song banter! Sean was talking about brown acid and tripping out that the audience was shrinking. I felt like I was at a comedy show at times. Sean and Alan felt like Laurel and Hardy up there. Sean would make jokes about how Alan should change the title to “When I Am King” to “When I Am Sting.” And how Sting does “yoga” for 4 and half hours. That line is funny to adults but that line would thankfully go over the kids heads not realizing what they meant.

After Donkey Riding, GBS played “Captain Kidd,” and “Love Me Tonight.” The crowd pleaser “The Night Pat Murphy Died” was after that. Great Big Sea have a new album coming out in July called “Safe Upon The Shore.” The song “Nothing But A Song” was about the band’s 17 years of existence, and it had powerful harmonized singing…especially at the end of the song! The other new song we heard that night was “Good People.” That sounded more like a folk rock ditty. Really looking forward to the new album, even though I still love listening to their latest album “Fortune’s Favour.” I think that’s their strongest album to date.

Oysterband’s “When I’m Up” was up shortly after, and that’s always been a favorite of mine. I think the guys took a few songs to get settled in, I think the first 2 songs they seemed to rush through the songs. That’s from my perspective anyway. Alan was his usual charming self, delivering funny jokes left and right. Sean’s vocals were strong, especially during “England” and “Mari Mac.”

Bob wasn’t left out, since they played the song “Helmethead.” I was kind of looking forward to hearing the band sing without microphones for a song since the event gallery would have been perfect for that. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Even though the band played for over an hour and half, their set was certainly shorter than usual. Usually they break up their sets and play for 2 hours or so but since they had an opener, it didn’t make sense to do that. Towards the end of the set, they played “Consequence Free” and “Ordinary Day.”

They came back to do a quick encore. Per request via a giant banner in the crowd, they played a lovely rendition of “Clearest Indication.” I haven’t heard that song live before so that was nice. I like how they introduce older songs into their sets because I haven’t heard all of them live yet. The guys from Corb Lund came on stage to finish their encore. They played the song “I Wanna Be In The Calvary” off Corb’s Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier album. Not sure the crowd was particularly happy that they ended on that note but it was cool to see all of them up on stage together. I would have liked to have seen the band play one more of their own songs to end the night. But I was happy with the overall performance. It was great way to spend a Friday night and see one of my favorite bands perform! Until next time guys, until next time…


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