Friday, August 5, 2011

Indoor Garden Party

I'm trying hard to figure out how to structure this post because there seems to be so much to say while, at the same time, there aren't enough synonyms for 'wonderful' to do the Indoor Garden Party justice.  I'm also writing this in bits and pieces at different times, from notes scribbled while having drinks with my sister, her friend Leigh, and some friends of hers about an hour after the second show.  I wanted to write some things down while they were still fresh in my mind but, at the same time, I was trying not to appear totally rude to these people I'd never met before!  Not sure I succeeded.  So I'll just wade in and, if the whole thing seems a bit disjointed, my apologies. 

From the perspective of a huge fan of Russell Crowe's music, who'd never had a chance to see him in concert before, it was literally a dream come true.  Russell's voice is one of the truly great instruments of his acting and it serves him no less in his singing.  He's a storyteller.  It comes through in his voice, his eyes, his facial expressions, his body language.

The stories he tells on screen, through his acting, are superb.  It's all right there in the body of work he's done.  But put him in front of a microphone with a guitar and those stories are a cut above even his movie roles.  When he sang Bruce Springsteen's Highway Patrolman, he wasn't even a minute into the song before I had to start wiping my eyes so that I would still be able to see him.  The story alone is enough to make me cry, but he sings it with such meaning, such depth, that you can tell he feels it.  The beauty is that he has the ability to make you feel it too--sadness, despair,and the emotion that came through loud and clear to me--the experience of being forced to give someone up and move on with life, even though doing so goes against everything you are.

My apologies for rambling on about that one song, but it's meaning goes deep for me, having lost my brother in a car accident three years ago.  It was highway patrolmen who worked the accident and called to let us know about him.  Even my older sister, who's not a big Crowe music fan, had some tears in her eyes at the end of it and, afterwards, we looked at each other and knew we'd both been thinking the same things.

Now, on...  I would have loved to hear Russell singing alone more than he did, but the songs he does with Alan Doyle and with Danielle are terrific in themselves.  He and Alan dueting on Raewyn, a song from the My Hand, My Heart album, and on Perfect In Your Eyes, are a real joy.  Perfect In Your Eyes is the song that touches me most from this entire collection.  Rather than go off on another long tangent, I'll write about why at a different date.

It was Russell who introduced me to the music of Alan Doyle and Great Big Sea a couple of years ago and I've loved it since.  Sadly, I'm not very well versed in knowing specific songs, but I suspect that's going to change now that I've gotten a more close-up view of Alan and his singing.  Once I get home, I think I'll be listening to them a lot more.

What cemented it for me was Alan's solo rendition of Where I Belong.  Obviously another man who feels the music and who's focused on storytelling as much as Russell.  He just tells his stories in a slightly different way and they complement each other beautifully.  Mother's Cross is another song that makes me cry and Alan did it wonderfully, with just the right touch of reverence for the lyrics.  I owe Alan Doyle a lot more listening than I've done and I promise him and Lynda over at Between The Rock And A Hard Place, who's probably his biggest fan in the world, that I'm going to remedy that when I'm home again.

Another duo that I'm going to be listening to more is Size 2 Shoes brothers Eoin and Moley.  After Russell had mentioned them on Twitter I looked up a couple of videos but, time constraints being what they always are, I hadn't done more than that.  Seeing them onstage and hearing the wonderful blend of their harmonies has made all the difference.  I'm planning to download some of their music and give them a much closer listen, as well as looking up some of their lyrics.

As I said on here before, Danielle Spencer is every bit as beautiful as her voice.  I've listened to both her White Monkey album and her latest, Calling All Magicians.  Her pop style has never been my favorite kind of music, but that is no reflection at all on the lady's talent.  She has an amazing voice and it was in top form on all the songs from the Crowe/Doyle Songbook Vol III collection--Queen Jane, Angel Of The Cross, The Killing Song, Sadness Of A Woman.  Having heard her voice with Russell's and Alan's and now, having seen her perform these songs, I have a hard time imagining anyone else singing them.

Danielle gets her biggest chance to shine on End Of Story, a song from Calling All Magicians, and shine she does.  Her voice is perfection and the simple piano accompaniment gives her lyrics a great chance to stand out as well.  She won me over there, and my sister wants to borrow Danielle's two CD's from me when we're back home, so she now has a new fan.

I bought Scott Grimes' Drive CD back when it first came out and have listened to it at least a dozen times now.  Scott proved there was more to him than just Will Scarlett (if we needed more) with this CD.  My favorite songs on it are What Love Is and Corner Pub.

At the garden party, Scott was outstanding on From Here To The Ocean.  It was a touch of ginger-haired soulfulness with Scott putting everything he had into it and that being quite a lot.  He also took a bit of a lead when the entire ensemble sang Michael Jackson's Man In The Mirror, again showing off his soulful side.  

Kevin Durand cracks me up.  Literally.  When I first saw a video of Beautiful Girls during the Robin Hood promo tour, Kevin was hamming it up and he was still at it here.  Whenever I need a laugh, I go over to Youtube and watch that first video, because it works every time.  Beautiful Girls was a wonderful part of the show because you could just tell how much fun they were all having doing it.

Here, Kevin's Crazy Song nearly had me falling out of my seat.  He almost whispered "...a love song" and then launched into a recitation that would have left Robin Williams speechless with jealousy.  His facial expressions were a sight to behold.  I hope someone from Comedy Central was in the audience because the man deserves a special there, if not his own series.  During O, Canada he kept (mostly) a straight face, but the man has comedy built right into his personality.  If you read this, Kevin, I promise that, the next time I watch 3:10 To Yuma, I'll try not to cheer so loudly when Ben Wade puts that fork into your neck.

Favorite moments?  It's tough to choose them out of all the outstanding elements of this show, so I'll stick with the one that touched me the most, which was Russell's Highway Patrolman, not only because it gave us a chance to hear him alone, but because of the personal connection it had for me.

One of the best things about the Indoor Garden Party is that the entire show was put together so well.  Everyone who was a part of it got their own chance to stand out.  It also perfectly balanced the music and the poetry, the laughter and the tears.  It truly was a party, an opportunity for friends to get together and have a good time, and the performers really made the audience feel like a part of it.

It took a lot of planning and juggling-of both money and time-for me to get to Canada, but it was worth every penny spent and every minute of effort.  I still have two more days to enjoy St. John's and the beautiful Newfoundland scenery and I'm loving it.  I'll go home with some truly wonderful memories.

After the privilege of hearing all this wonderful music, it's somewhat ironic but nevertheless appropriate that the song title that keeps running through my head is from Dirty Dancing:  I Had The Time Of My Life

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