“It’s like the stars aligned!” Alan Doyle, the lead singer of Great Big Sea said during their performance at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium last week.
It sure felt like like the cosmos were in sync during the performance. Once again, Great Big Sea was playing a Saturday night show. But, I didn’t know what to expect going to see the band from the far eastern reaches of Canada. Not only was I fairly unfamiliar with the band’s music but I was also very unaware how much I was going to learn in one night.
Great Big Sea had no opening act, but it wasn’t needed. The fans didn’t need to be warmed up. Their was a palpable excitement in the air hours before the Newfoundland folk-rock band took the stage.
It was Great Big Sea’s musicianship, however, that astounded the audience the most.
They aren’t just any cliche rock band with two guitars, bass and drums — they have Bob Hallett. Not only does Hallett sing, but he also contributes to the bands sound with a vast array of instruments. From the fiddle to the bamboo flute, every time Hallett picked up a new instrument, the crowd’s awe increased.
Every few songs the band would bust out an acapella number. And with Séan McCann leading the way, the harmonies were mesmerizing.
What stood out to me the most that night, however, were the fans. An abundance of plaid shirts filled the Jubilee, but you could also spot middle-aged women, belting out every word to every song, an elderly couple sitting back and enjoying the show, and a drunken teenage in the lobby yelling “IT’S GREAT BIG SEA!” Perhaps this was fitting — “Our band is almost of drinking age,” lead singer Alan Doyle laughed.
— Adrienne Toye