Great Big Sea @ Town Hall, NYC

Live Reviews | Apr 25th, 2006

Great Big Sea
Photo by Bryan Kremkau

Date: April 22nd 2006
Venue: Town Hall, NYC

This was the first time that I saw Great Big Sea live and I was really impressed with their show. I have all of their albums and definitely love their sound…even though it’s heavy on the pop side.

The evening started out with my brother, his girlfriend and I getting stuck in slow traffic on the West Side Highway. That highway is really hit or miss because one day it will go real fast or the next you go turtle speed because of the bad weather. Saturday night was a downpour and it always rains when we go to the Town Hall. It was the same way last April seeing Family Guy Live there. I sprinted through the streets and got to the venue in the nick of time. I went to our seats and we had a prime spot. It was Center stage, 6th row and the view was just perfect. It wasn’t too close and wasn’t far back. I looked around and saw some crazed fans, mostly girls. I thought girls were going to throw panties on the stage at one point. They might have, I might have missed it haha.

Great Big Sea opened the sold out show with “Captain Kidd,” off their new album “The Hard and the Easy.” Pretty much the show was broken into two sections. The first half was nothing but folk rock & traditional songs and the second half was the electric/folk rock section where they played their more poppier tunes. It took about oh, two seconds for everybody to stand up in their seats and dance around. Everybody was clapping and stomping to the catchy folk music. I didn’t think I could clap that much. The second song they played, and it seemed to be a crowd favorite was “Donkey Riding.” I never really cared for it. GBS played a lot of their new stuff from their new album, and it’s a lot of old Newfoundland folk songs they grew up with. Besides playing the music really well, the band was very funny and cracked up the crowd many times. They were making fun of the songs because it seemed there was nothing but songs about “horses falling into ice” folk songs. That seemed to be a running gag throughout the show. I’ll be honest, it took me awhile to get used to the new album because it was different than their other stuff. But every time I listened to the album, the songs get better. Hearing the songs live made me appreciate their new album even more. Songs that stood out from that album that they played were “The Mermaid,” “Concerning Charlie Horse,” “The River Driver” and “Tishialuk Girls Set.” I like the slow songs on CD but sometimes I’d rather hear the more upbeat songs in concert. They still did the slow songs really well, even though it took the crowd out of it for a bit. I guesss people need to rest for a song or two after all the dancing & clapping they did. Sean dedicated one song to his Grandfather who used to sing him a song, I think it was “Graceful and Charming?” I think that’s what he said but I think I was distracted when he was introducing the song. Besides playing the new stuff, they played a few older tunes within that set like “Jolly Roving Tar,” “Jack Hinks,” and finished the first set with a GBS favorite “Lukey.” I was surprised how many songs got the crowd out of their seats. I remember sitting down for 2 songs I think, and they were for the slow ones. After the first set, there was about a 15 minute intermission while the band probably do drugs and drink up back stage. Hey, they said the intermission was “really good” or something along those lines. But they were probably joking about how extreme it was. I don’t know.

The band came back in more, relaxed clothing and it was time to rock out..well in a Great Big Sea sort of way. They opened the second set with “Shines Right Through Me” off their “Something Beautiful” album. I think that album is one of their best CDs to date and i’m looking forward to more new, original material from these guys. Anyway, they played a lot of the rockier, more pop filled songs like “Sea of No Cares,” “Consequence Free,” “When I Am King,” “The Night Pat Murphy Died” and the Oysterband cover “When I’m Up (I Can’t Get Down).” I loved hearing all those songs and this set just rocked a lot. I liked the first set with the folk songs, but this is the Great Big Sea that got me into the band. Actually, I think it was the song “Penelope” that got me into the band. I was thoroughly impressed how many instruments each member of the band played, with Bob playing a million instruments. I can’t even play one haha. During this set, Alan introduced this song as a “hockey song” and the crowd started to chant “LET’S GO RANGERS” (even though they lost pretty bad to the Devils in their first playoff game in over 7 years). The band seemed freaked out by it, and then brought up that they didn’t mention rival teams like the Islanders or Bruins, or didn’t mention the Boston Red Sox. That quieted the crowd and Bob sang “Helmet Head.” Besides playing their instruments really well, each member has a terrific singing voice and can songs perfectly together like the song “General Taylor.” I’m not really a fan of that song either but Sean and the rest of the group sang that one great! I think the highlight of the concert for me was when the group did a montage of cover songs like Bryan Adams’ “Summer of 69,” The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star” and since we were near Broadway, they played a song from Phantom of the Opera (which drew a lot of laughter). Then after all the short cover songs, they went into another cover, which was “Run Runaway.” that song appears on their “Up” album. I know they played two other songs from that montage but can’t figure out what! It’s eating me up inside trying to think of the other songs they did. The rest of the songs that they played in the second set were “Mari-Mac,” “Scolding Wife,” and “Ordinary Day.” I loved hearing “Ordinary Day” and “Mari Mac” is always fun to listen to.

The encore they came back and played two or three songs. I believe one of them was “Excursion Around the Bay” off their first album and can’t remember what else was played. I think it was more traditional, folk songs than their pop stuff. They finished the set but came back for one last song. They didn’t have any instruments and made the crowd be silent. They sang “Old Brown’s Daughter” in acapela and it sounded excellent! Those Canadians sure can sing and play their music well! Seeing Great Big Sea was a fun, and entertaining time and the group takes their music seriously but at the same time they don’t. They like to joke around and make “Brokeback Mountain” jokes and goof on each other. If you like folk rock music, than check out a Great Big Sea concert one of these days…you might just like the band! I can’t wait to see the band again, but hopefully not in some sit down theater.


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