My fiancé Sean has an amazing mother. She works for a junk mail packaging plant here in Oakville, which frequently has one of their clients (the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts) donate to them handfuls of free tickets to check out the various events that they hold. Through Sean’s mom, he and I have already gotten in to see tribute concerts to a Led Zeppelin album, a few Pink Floyd albums, a tribute to The Who and a few other nights out, all for free! It truly doesn’t get much better than that.
Or so I had thought.
Toward the end of this past weekend, Sean told me that his mom had gotten a hold of some more free tickets and wanted to know if I was at all interested in going to see a tribute to Supertramp’s album, Breakfast In America. Interested!? That may have been the understatement of the year. I Love, with a capital “L,” Supertramp. The show was only a few days away, but I made a point of making it work with my schedule. There was simply no way that I was going to miss this! This is what I call things getting better.
For those who aren’t already familiar with Supertramp, they are a British rock band that formed in 1969, originally under the name “Daddy”. They re-named themselves in early 1970 to what we know them as today – Supertramp. They started to produce music and by the mid-1970s, they had already sold more than 60 million albums. The members (Rick Davies, Bob Siebenberg, John Helliwell, Carl Verheyen, Cliff Hugo, Lee Thornburg, Jesse Siebenberg, Gabe Dixon and Cassie Miller), though many, all unite to create a consistently perfectly blended sound, complete with all sorts of neat sound effects and instruments that one might not otherwise get to hear (saxophones and twelve string guitars included).
The band that we saw tonight (known as Classic Albums Live) is a huge cover band that takes classic albums and recreates them live on stage. By “huge”, I really do mean HUGE! They have quite a few members and when they are putting together a show, they simply choose the ones that are best suited to the roles of the band members (based on criteria such as their general appearance, vocal sound, instrument capabilities, etc.). I guess we must have seen quite a few of the shows by this cover band, as we recognized a few of the people from other shows
I was especially excited that they were performing Breakfast In America, which was undoubtedly their “magnum opus”, spawning no less than four hit singles. It is also very much my favourite Supertramp album, based on the diversity of the songs and the overall mood it puts me in.
The Oakville Centre (where the show was held) was jam packed, so that was a pretty big sign that the evening ahead was destined for greatness. The band came on stage, every one of them dressed fully in black, and started to play.
Have you ever had one of those moments when time stands still, yet rushes by faster than normal at the same time? The entire show was that way. I couldn’t believe it when I looked at my watch, only to discover that an entire hour had already gone by! They did an overall smashing job of covering the songs; some were so authentic that it was really quite hard to believe that they were not really the actual group at all.
It was awesome to just watch them play. A few of them were just regular musicians, but they had a handful of members in the band that really stood out. For example, they have this guy who does all of their sound effects and uses some pretty unique and different instruments at varying point in the songs. He was absolutely comical! He bounced around as he played, stopping in front of the microphone every so often to belt out some lyrics, but was usually moving around andbeing a whole lot of fun. Another guy in the band that stood out was standing right at the front of the stage. He had a bunch of smaller instrument stands set up in front of him, holding a variety of saxophones (everything from soprano sax to tenor). There was also a clarinet and something that I would swear was an oboe. He had mad talent, and extremely strong lungs, given the volume at which he was playing. My last favourite guy was the bassist (but then again, I always did like bass players), because watching him play was just cool. He played like most bass players would (leaning slightly back, while keeping time by bouncing his body in time with the music), but given where we were sitting, I had a great view of his fingers on the neck of the bass. I was impressed with the speed at which he played.
It‘s always nice when you go to see a show that turns out to be as excellent as you hope it will be.
I really feel that I must also compliment The Oakville Centre for their tech crew – whoever was doing the lights did an absolutely stellar job. I used to be on tech crew running lights from grade ten until the end of university, so I know a bit about lights and what it takes to make them look good. They did an excellent job, and the swirling colours and designs added to the overall effect of the music that night.
They ran through the entire album before intermission, and then played a handful more songs when we returned. After that, we left the theater and drove home, unable to stop hashing over the details about the awesomeness of the concert.
So ever since I got this internship as a music reviewer, I have been to see a lot of shows (like, a TON!). And I have loved every second of it, but I usually aim for the free shows because they are, you know, free. And free is a lot cheaper than paying to see shows. While we received these tickets for free, they had the price stamped on each ticket, and seeing it sort of shocked me. More than $50 each!. In this case though, this truly was an example of getting what you paid for and then some! Incredible.