Sunday, January 31, 2010

CONCERT REVIEW : Great Lake Swimmers w/ Jon-Rae Fletcher

If there is anyone reading this who has not seen Great Lake Swimmers live, stop reading. Go buy a ticket at one of their upcoming shows, now.

Now that I've gotten that exhortation out of the way, there are few things I can say about the Swimmers' performance that has not been said a thousand times. Yes, they are tight-knit, never missing a cue from one another. Yes, their music only sounds more expansive and mesmerizing in real life compared to the already excellent recorded version. Yes, Tony Dekker has a comforting, sandy angelic voice. They've placed highly on both my favourite shows AND albums of 2009 lists.

But, I do think I have a contribution to the vast sum of critical acclaim for the Great Lake Swimmers. You know how when you're reading a good novel, you're drawn into a fantastical world that is not your own, in which you reside for the duration of the novel and for quite a while after? That has been my experience with the Swimmers' music, in particular their live shows. And their sonic tales have been ones of loving, longing, treasuring and exalting. It's not until they're finished with you that you realize you'd been holding your breath.

Seeing them, full-band and not unplugged, at the beautiful Vogue Theatre in Vancouver definitely showed that there was much more to add to my already bountiful love for GLS. They brought along Miranda Mulholland, with her lovely voice and deadly fiddling, as opposed to their usual companion Julie Fader. Watch out for this redhead, she not only stole the hearts and minds of all the men in the theatre (and most of the women), but also showed her chops during an extended jam-out of "Still" at the end of their set. In her own words, she really did "giv'er."

Opener Jon-Rae Fletcher and band showed the crowd that country is not dead. In fact, they had the crowd bursting into spontaneous bouts of applause during their songs. Crowing favourites such as recent "Maria" to the 14 year old song "14 Years," Fletcher had his heart on his sleeve and the ears of all who could hear. An encore was demanded even before the last song, and he happily complied.

Jon-Rae Fletcher's set list:
As I Die
City Lights
Red Raven
Blessed Assurance
Big Talker
14 years
The Hill

For a small handful of photos, visit my Flickr.
For much better photos, check out Christine McAvoy's.