Thursday, January 14, 2010

Colin James at the Orpheum...

My students over at Performing Vancouver are amazing. Here's Shawn's post on his trip downtown last night to see Colin James perform at the Orpheum:

As I said in class, the only time I really visit Vancouver (living in Maple Ridge) is for the music scene, whether its an arena show at GM Place, a drunk-fest at the Commodore, or a metal show at the Croatian Cultural Center, I've seen a wide range of bands and audiences and this scene is what keeps me connected to the city. If you've heard of Colin James, it's probably "Just Came Back to Say Goodbye" or "Freedom", and though he's not a huge name in rock and roll, his career has lasted over 20 years and his sounds range from old-time blues to mainstream pop to rock ballads. I'd seen him twice before this show, once at the Burnaby Blues Festival at Deer Lake Park and the other at the Red Robinson Show Theatre for New Year's 2009, two very different venues and atmospheres that allowed me to seen the range of his work as well as the crowds that he attracts.
I hadn't been to Granville street since last October for VIFF, and I probably don't have to tell most of you that the change between now and then was noticeable and impressive. There was definitely what you would call 'Olympic buzz' and I was interested in how much the general vibe in the city had heightened since my last visit, from all the advertisements and decorations to the fact that Granville st. had been finished and was once again populated without the confinements of construction. Although I usually feel like somewhat of a tourist when I'm in Vancouver for a show, last night I approached the city in the mindset of someone who was visiting for the Olympics and completely new to the atmosphere and sights, paying close attention to the aspects of the city that were created for the image that the city wants to project for all the newcomers. Those traditions I have picked up on in Vancouver in the past were still all there: the beggar on Granville who asks specifically for 35 cents, the 'hipsters' in the coffee shops and Cafe Crepe, the varied ethnicities sharing the sidewalk, the general laid back attitude. But on top of all that was this 'Big City' image and hype for the Olympics that in a way destroys the humble image I had of Vancouver from past visits (maybe 'humble' isn't the right word but I'd never seen the city boast about itself the way it does now, feel free to disagree :) ).

As for the show itself, I won't turn this into a concert review but I will tell you that Colin James is a fantastic musician that alw ays impresses, no matter what type of crowd he's playing for. Last night's audience was probably one of the tamest I have ever experienced, made up of mostly 40-50 year olds but with a few younger people like myself to round it out. Maybe it's because James' music is so 'feel-good', or maybe it's because most of the people attending the show come from a more considerate day and age, but I have to mention that the bathroom line was the most polite I had ever been in, a major contrast from the metal show bathrooms I have endured in the past. What intrigues me the most about live shows is that I get to have a special experience with people that, in most cases, I'd never know in my day to day life and it is this aspect of the concert scene that makes me believe that live music is Vancouver's true public space, bringing people together from different age groups and cities and allowing strangers to share and connect over one common interest: the band on stage.

1 comment:

Peter Dickinson said...

Thanks, Shawn. I liked how you approached this trip into Vancouver almost like an anthropologist, donning your tourist guise to assess the Olympic hype. Interesting conclusions you've drawn about now vs. then. Great pics, too, of the show. And I completely agree with what you have to say about live performance and the almost mystical coming-togetherness of the audience that happens at live events. Great stuff.