Great Big Sea at the Orpheum Theatre on April 12

A review of Great Big Sea at the Orpheum Theatre on April 12, 2007

, Editor-in-Chief

Great Big Sea, one of Canada’s best exports, delivered a rousing performance before a packed Orpheum Theatre on Thursday night. With witty stage banter and an authentic approach to traditional Cape Breton roots, the band performed a memorable show for both new fans and their rabid grass roots fanbase.

Great Big Sea brings a Celtic-rock flair with acoustic guitars and traditional instruments like the bodhran, fiddle, tin whistle, flute, and accordion. Their fun lyrics and catchy hooks incite plenty of sing-alongs. The band broke the night up nicely with two sets; one geared more towards the traditional side, followed by a more plugged-in set. There were many highlights in both sets. Fan favorites “The Night Paddy Murphy Died” and “Sea Of No Cares” made early appearances, as did a surprising rendition of the oh so fitting, “Boston and St. John’s.”

The pride of St. John’s is still touring in support of their 2005 release, The Hard And The Easy. Included in the set was “Captain Kidd,” “Concerning Charlie Horse,” and “The River Driver.” The band also took time to road test a new song, “Walk On The Moon” off their forthcoming album.

Great Big Sea picked up right where they left off, starting the second set with the diverse “Ordinary Day” as fans jumped in their seats. Plugging in with electric guitars gave “Shines Right Through Me” and “When I Am A King” a tougher edge. However, it was their interaction with the Boston faithful that propelled the show. When lead singer Alan Doyle introduced “Helmet Head” as an audience participation song in the middle of the second set, it seemed redundant considering that’s exactly what the whole show was. Whether it was tales of writing “Sea Of No Cares” with Boston’s Chris Trapper, an impromptu version of “Love Is In The Air’ (complete with dancing), or a ridiculously fun medley of covers ranging from “I Fought The Law,” “500 Miles” (The Proclaimers), and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” one could not help but smile.
Great Big Sea closed out the night with a completely acoustic rendition of “Old Brown’s Daughter” from the front of the stage – it was the only part of the night, where the audience insisted upon being silent.

There are some bands that you just need to see live to truly experience what they are all about. Indeed, Great Big Sea is exactly that – so do yourself a favor and catch them when they are in town next time around.

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