The short thing to say would be that the concert was awesome, because it was.
But when did I ever say the short thing?
I’ve been trying to see LiVE (I don’t think that’s the “official” way of spelling the band name, but it’s the convention I use to communicate that it’s the name of the band) in concert for the past…I don’t know…five years? I’ve missed their Edmonton performances at least four times, sometimes only by a matter of days. This time, I was determined not to miss out. I got two tickets on the day they came on sale, and asked my lovely wife if she would care to join me at the concert.
Which, happily, she was more than happy to do. And we made a date out of the evening, stopping off at a nice restaurant for a romantic dinner before continuing on to the concert itself.
First, let’s talk venue. River Cree is a Native hotel and casino, built on a corner of the Enoch reservation, which is situated just to the west of Edmonton. It’s a spectacular facility indeed, part of the Marriott chain and one of only two 4 & 1/2 star hotels in the Edmonton area (which means it is tied for the rank of “top hotel” in the area). The concert venue — the very originally (cough) named “The Venue at River Cree” — itself was a large, temporary marquee tent erected on the north side of the hotel. Sturdy and weatherproof, it seemed to have capacity for a few hundred people, at least (400 at a guess, but I never was good at guessing crowd size).
And whatever the capacity, it was packed.
Oh, when Grace and I got there, it was still fairly empty, but then, we did get there quite early. By the time the concert began, the place was full.
We had good seats, too — Section D, Row 8, seats 38 and 39. We were, at a guess, no more than twenty feet from the stage, and only three seats off of the centre aisle. There wasn’t any squinting necessary to see the band; they were large as life in front of us. The stage itself was fairly simply set up — four microphones, a rack of amps and monitors at the back of the stage opposite the drum kit, and two towers of speakers hanging on either side of the setup. I didn’t see a keyboard of any kind, so I didn’t expect that we’d get to hear Overcome, and that guess proved to be correct.
And as for the concert? It was incredible. The band sounded great, and for the most part the sound was well balanced. Only on Shit Towne did it seem like the levels were off, resulting in a kind of “crunchy” mash-up of sounds that partly obscured the lyrics. Also, Grace did note that she wished Adam Kowalczyk’s microphone had been turned up a bit (she liked his harmonies which were, I admit, rather enjoyable). But in general, the levels were quite good, with no one element overpowering any of the others.
(Memo to self: buy a copy of Adam Kowalczyk’s solo album.)
The concert began, if memory serves, with I Alone, and ranged over a wide variety of LiVE’s musical styles and albums. The Beauty of Gray, Selling the Drama, All Over You, Lankini’s Juice, The Dolphin’s Cry, the aforementioned Shit Towne, Heaven, the band’s cover of Johnny Cash’s I Walk the Line, They Stood Up for Love, Mirror Song, and Sofia were on the setlist, and all of them sounded excellent. Chad Taylor, in particular, was rocking up a storm, stomping up and down the stage and wailing away on a series of guitars.
Run to the Water, probably my favourite LiVE song, was also played about halfway through the first set, and the band ended the concert with Lightning Crashes…which, of course, the crowd enthusiastically sang along with. I think the cheering went on for…well, we were only in “The Venue” for about fifteen minutes after the concert ended, but the cheering hadn’t stopped by then.
This brings us back to the short answer above: the concert was awesome, especially for a guy like me, who’s been trying to catch this, quite possibly his favourite band ever, live in concert for several years now, and always missing them by just a bit. And the fact that I got to share it with my lovely wife made it even better. I will be sure to see LiVE again the next time they’re Edmonton-bound.