A Mighty Fine Night Out


Sometimes the best things in life come to a person simply by being in the right place, at the right time.

For me, that happened to be while I was sitting in the cafeteria at work at noon-hour yesterday, checking my smartypants phone for messages while sipping my cream of broccoli soup. (This detail is important, because I want to assure myself as well as anyone else who may read this that not everything I have eaten lately has been pure crap. Ha.) Lo and behold, a charitable organization I have supported in various ways in the past, Children At Risk, was given a batch of tickets to last night’s Roger Daltrey concert at Scotiabank Place to distribute to its members. There were some left over, which were offered to other families of autistic kids through the autismsupportOttawa Yahoo! group. It did not concern me in the slightest where the seats were located. All I could think about was my 13-year-old Asper-dude, and how much an opportunity like this would completely rock his world in all the best possible ways. Something my ex-husband and I were successful at achieving together as parents, was keeping our children exposed to a wide variety of music. That, my friends, is the only explanation for a 13-year-old whose musical palate ranges from The Beatles to Culture Club to Metallica, and many esoteric points in between.

As it turned out, I was able to get four tickets for, get this, floor level seats. All we had to do was show up at the venue at a certain time, and look for a very tall man holding a sheaf of printed e-mails. Well, that, and I promised the Executive Director that I would renew my membership with Children At Risk, because the work they do is wonderful and necessary for local families of children who present all across the autism spectrum.

Guilty though I may be for openly mocking The Who for their endless run of “farewell concerts” in the ’80s and ’90s, I still kept a place for them near the top of my concert bucket-list. (A full Genesis reunion, anybody? Peter Gabriel says he’s up for it….) Pete Townshend no longer tours due to his hearing-related problems, and Keith Moon and John Entwistle have both long since left this earth, but Townshend’s younger brother Simon fills the guitarist’s role quite nicely and there is a definite physical resemblance between the two.

Anyway, last night DH, DD, DS13 and I were witness to a performance of the rock opera Tommy from start to finish, with oodles of psychedelic images, beginning with storks and fetuses, streaming on a video screen behind the band – and you know what? It worked seamlessly with the music. I tip my hat to whoever was responsible for the design. The audience was smaller than what I would have expected, given that Roger Daltrey is a rock n’ roll deity who provided the likes of Robert Plant with any real competition; at a reported 2,500 people, with most of them at floor level or in the 100-level seats. I don’t think anybody kept to their assigned seating last night, as even I (shy as I am) got as close as I could to the stage and stayed (swayed? Yeah, I danced, and I know Daltrey was watching) there; and I am told by DH, who heard it from one of the security guards, that Daltrey absolutely wanted it that way.

The show moved from Tommy to a random smattering of Who classics, including “Behind Blue Eyes” and a neat re-imagining of “Baba O’Riley” (familiar to the current generation as the opening theme song to “CSI: NY”). Daltrey told the audience that his throat surgeon wanted him to “sing something low” during his concert run, so we were also treated to a medley of Johnny Cash classics.

The show as a whole ran long (clocking in at over 2.5 hours), but only in terms of time – Daltrey could have gone on all night, it seemed, and anyone possessed of greater stamina than my DD would have more than happily obliged him.

The Stuff That “Urban” Legends Are Made Of

It wouldn’t be the first week back to school without its share of stress here and there, but this last week was particularly ridiculous for reasons I won’t get into here. Fortunately, DH and I had something very special lined up for Friday Date Night: the return of Keith Urban to Ottawa and Scotiabank Place. (The Band Perry was the opening act.)

Keith Urban’s music has always held a special place in my relationship with DH. We still laugh when the story of a manic weekend in December 2007 comes up, when I took DS13 (then age 10) to the Ottawa stop of the “Love, Pain and The Whole Crazy World Tour,” and the very next day, hit the road with DH armed with concert tickets to London, Ontario, in the middle of one of the worst winter storms that either of us can remember. (We haven’t done anything quite that brave, or crazy, since. But dammit, it was worth it.) Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to Urban’s Bluesfest show in 2010, but I promised myself that we weren’t going to allow another Ottawa show to pass us by.

Part of Urban’s appeal for us is his fusion of ’70s California rock (i.e., The Eagles) and “new” country music. His band is a tight unit of four talented multi-instrumentalists. They truly strike me as being brothers united in music if not by blood, and one of the highlights of the show last night was Urban introducing each of them in turn, giving them the opportunity to perform a snippet of a classic rock or country song. Jerry Flowers (bass guitar), who bears an almost uncanny likeness to Adam Clayton, laid out a kick-ass rendition of U2’s “With Or Without You.” Danny Rader (guitar, banjo, and other string instruments) sang the praises of Canadian girls. (Well, honey, you’re something to sing about too. Does anyone know if he’s married?) And my DS13, having stayed home this time because “country music isn’t cool, Mom,” missed out on Brian Nutter (guitar) covering AC/DC’s “It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock N’ Roll).”

The set itself resembled the metal rigging of a roller coaster, a nod to Urban’s recent hit single, “‘Til Summer Comes Around,” with a few strands of bright carnival lights; and the evening itself concluded with 2 encores followed by an explosion of confetti, streamers and fireworks (pics 2 and 3 – below. My HTC smartphone’s camera didn’t do it justice). The video montages streaming behind the band are always fun and entertaining, and one would have to have a heart of stone to not be moved while watching the footage of Urban embracing his wife Nicole Kidman during “Without You.”

Such a terrific way to bid farewell to summer, and the energy from both the band and the crowd was insane. Until the next time, Keith and crew!

         

SET LIST:

Put You In A Song
Days Go By
I Told You So
Raining On Sunday
Long Hot Summer
Stupid Boy
Silly Love Songs (Wings cover)/Making Memories Of Us
I’m In
Jeans On
You’ll Think Of Me
You Gonna Fly
Georgia Woods
‘Til Summer Comes Around
Sweet Thing
Kiss A Girl (with Kate from Hawkesbury, Benjamin from Vernon, and Caitlin from Ottawa, who were brought up on stage in a “fan-jam”-esque voice contest)
Without You
Somebody Like You
Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me?
You Look Good In My Shirt

Encore:

Tonight I Wanna Cry
Better Life