Thursday, January 26, 2017

Joel Plaskett with The ESO January 23rd 2017

On Monday night Janis, Char, Buzzard and I went to the Joel Plaskett with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra concert at the Winspear Centre here in Edmonton. This was my eighth time seeing Joel in concert and one where I wasn't sure what to expect.

Joel Plaskett was in Alberta for two shows only one here in Edmonton with the ESO and then in Calgary the following night playing with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. So this was going to be a rare show and one off kind of event.

The show started with the ESO getting warmed up by playing the Ian Tyson song "Four Strong Winds", then a medley of Gordon Lightfoot songs. The conductor for the evening was a fellow Nova Scotian by the name of Martin MacDonald. Joel's opening song of the night was "Harbour Boys" from his Scrappy Happiness album. Joel admitted several times during the course of the night about how nervous he was about the show with the symphony. Having never been out to see the ESO, I was nervous as well, but with Joel's quirkiness, shuffles and his between song banter I was feeling more comfortable as the show went on as did Joel.

What was nice is that the whole show wasn't just Joel with the ESO, he also did a few songs solo, and a few songs with Peter Elkas on guitar and piano. One of the songs Joel did "Old Friends" was dedicated to Peter as they have been long time friends having met back when Joel toured with his 90's band Thrush Hermit, it was while in Montreal that he met Peter who used to be in the band Local Rabbits. Joel also had drummer Mark Inneo playing these two Alberta shows with him. But it was really about the 50-60 musicians that make up the ESO were backing Joel up. I tried counting how many there were but never did get an accurate count, over 50 for sure.

I thought Joel and had great setlist for the type of show he was playing. Some of the songs were "North Star", "Park Avenue Sobriety Test" which had a great sing-a-long, "Love This Town", "Nowhere With You" and a solo version of "Rollin', Rollin', Rollin'," which had the whole crowd stomping and clapping along to the song, "When I Close My Eyes", "Lying On A Beach"," I'm Yours".

Joel Plaskett and The ESO did two sets on this night. The second set started with the ESO warming up playing a medley of Procol Harum songs, which makes sense seeing as Procol Harum and The ESO played together in 1971 and released a live album in 1972. After that it was back to more awesomeness with Joel Plaskett. The highlight of the night for me was the version Joel and the ESO did of the song "Lightning Bolt" to close out the second half, wow, just fucking incredible. I would love to see that song released as a single, or perhaps a live album of the whole show. But that song was amazing, the way the orchestra and Joel mixed together. The ESO certainly rocked the hell out on that one.

Joel ended the evening with a poem called "Just Because (For Gord Downie)", Joel went on to tell a story about opening for the Tragically Hip on a nation wide tour back in 90's. And you could tell that Joel has nothing but the utmost respect for Gord and The Hip. At the merch booth they had ten inch singles of the song, which sold out at the show. All proceeds from the single are going to the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund.

After the poem Joel came out for an encore but be damned if I can recall right now what the hell it was he played. This was an amazing show. Good times!!!

Joel Plaskett with The ESO.

Ten Inch Single.

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