Monday, August 17, 2009

You don’t know how lucky you are, boy

Last summer, in the name of rock n’ roll, my mom and I jumped in the car and went to Quebec City to see the free Paul McCartney show at the Plains of Abraham.

Arriving at the Plains, people as far as the eye could see, I could see that mom’s Andre Dawson-esque knees weren’t doing her well. As much as I wanted to stay, it was impossible.

One sprained knee and one disappointed son later, we’re driving back to Montreal. Zooming along the highway, mom makes a promise. “If he tours again, anywhere in the world, we’re there” she said, adding one major caveat. “As long as there are seats.”

It was a deal. I heard on the news that McCartney was playing Halifax this summer. I checked the dates on the tour, and got two tickets to see Paul with my mom in August in Boston.

At Fenway Park.

I’ve seen two Sox games at Fenway, and the Stones a few years back. It’s a magical place, so rich in history. It’s also the closest ballpark to Montreal. Look it up on Google; in no traffic you can get to Fenway about 20 minutes earlier than if you’re driving to Skydome. Parents, take your kids. Just don’t let them grow up to be Red Sox fans.

I knew we had good seats, but only when we got in to the park did I realize just how special the day would be. We were in the 15th row, which placed the seats in left center field…

I was a kid in a candy store. With hours to spare before the show, I wandered every piece of the field that I could get to…Touched the Green Monster, hugged Pesky’s Pole, I even scooped some dirt from the fair territory down the left field line and from the warning track by the bullpen. The entire field was covered with some sort of hard plastic, leaving my desire to swipe a few blades of grass nearly impossible. That is until a sympathetic security guard by the soundboard (the one part of the field that was still exposed) told me to pretend like I was tying my shoe and to not take too much.

I finally took my seat for the opening act, the band du jour from Brooklyn, MGMT. Talk about a tough gig. Sure, their music was good, but how do you not stare at your watch the whole time when you know that with the hour you’ll be hearing Beatles songs?

So MGMT ended, and after about 15 minutes, Paul and his band just walked on stage, pick up their instruments, and bust into Drive My Car. No explosions, no flashy lights. From the get go, he let the music speak for itself.

And so it went. Hit after hit, sing along after sing along. Never have I seen such a joyous crowd. Highlights were too many to mention, but “Something” on the Ukulele and “A Day in the Life” morphing into “Give Peace a Chance” were definite standouts. And “Back in the USSR” sure got my mom up and dancing.

I’m amazed (maybe?) that he’s still got it. Sure there might be some neck flab that wasn’t there when he was doing jail time in Japan, but his chops are as good as ever. The man’s “whoooos” and “heeeeees” still sound like they did on Abbey Road, an album that turned 40 years old last week.

The show's magic moment occurred when McCartney played “Hey Jude”. After an emotional “Let it Be” and a rollicking “Live and Let Die”, Sir Paul played the one that everyone was waiting for.

As the lights came on for the endless “Na Na Na Na’s”, I turned around to see 35,000 Fenway faithful screaming their lungs out, sheer elation on their faces. I was standing in left field, seeing Fenway packed to the rafters, and this amazing feeling rushed over me. It was part ‘holy shit I’m hearing one of my favorite songs of all time and it’s not a letdown’, and part ‘wow I could totally throw a bullet to Varitek from here’. Even when basking in the glow of a Beatle, baseball is never too far away.


01. Drive my Car

02. Jet

03. Only mama knows

04. Flaming Pie

05. Got to get you into my life

06. Let me roll it/foxy lady

07. Highway

08. Long and winding road

09. My Love

10. Blackbird

11. Here today

12. Dance tonight

13. Calico skies

14. Mrs Vanderbilt

15. Eleanor Rigby

16. Sing the Changes

17. Band on the run

18. Back in the USSR

19. I'm Down

20. Something

21. I've got a feeling

22. Paperback writer

23. A day in the life/give peace a chance

24. Let it be

25. Live and Let die

26. Hey Jude

1st encore

27. Daytripper

28. Lady Madonna

29. I saw her standing there

2nd encore

30. Yesterday

31. Helter Skelter

32. Get Back

33. Sgt Pepper's reprise/ The end

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ottawa Blues Festival / Molson Canadian

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Why is it that as soon as you cross a any border out of Quebec musical tastes change?I have seen my favourite bands come close to Montreal but stop just short . East , West , South .Music is the same everywhere...except in Quebec.Once again I had to leave "La Belle Province" to be amongst the +10,000 people at the Ottawa Blues Festival to experience the familiar sounds of Lynyrd SkynyrdWe took the kids as well.The first thing they noticed upon arrival was the giant blow up Molson Canadian beer can.I had to explain to them that we cant get this beer easily in Quebec because it says Canadian and has a Maple leaf on it.Of course the response back was "Why? " When you start explaining "why" it sounds so f...... ridiculous!!On the same night just a few hundred yards away , Ludacris was playing.Imagine this . A Ludracis crowd bumping into the hillbilly crowd of Skynyrd...and no incidents !!Poor planning also had the Drive By Truckers taking a stage just 15 minutes before Skynyrd took their stage. Halfway through the Truckers' set half the people left to come watch SkynyrdMidway through the Skynyrd set they dedicated one of their songs (Simple Man) to all the "Canadian troops and their families". A huge roar came over the crowd for this classy gesture.Now imagine what might have happened here ?At this point I realized just how sad we are to even accept this way of the land .National Anthems get booed here.Lettering on signs have to be bigger in French.The language police pops up from time to time to catch you,!!We cant get Molson Canadian here. (Molson... a family from Montreal ???)I live in a town where the Mayor changes the name of Canada day because he did not want to offend the good people that did not get a St Jean Baptiste day in Dollard.People don't always have the choice as to what language their children are taught in schools.You cant get government forms in English .There is actually a task force that will drive around the city on St Jean Baptiste day and warn you if they see a car in the parking lot of certain businesses. I know this first handDon't get me wrong I love the French . I have always said they are the most passionate people I know . Its the politicians and the separatist's I cant know the type .The ones that wear the American flag on their shirts before a Canadian FlagI am a proud Canadian and come to think of it, I would rather my musical heroes don't come to Quebec. Sad to say but until this shit stops I would travel across a border.