Yet another forgotten event popped into my head this afternoon: a concert I went to the night before my company Christmas party back in November.
It was sheer luck that I happened upon the show actually, and if one were a believer in fate this is as close as I've ever seen to it. Anyway, at work that day I had been talking about music with a couple of co-workers, and had mentioned one of my favorite blues artists during our chat. I had heard he had a new CD coming out and was sad that I had missed his show a few months previous, which had been a week or so before my return from Japan.
When I got home I was just settling in for what looked to be a quiet Friday night at home, and started flipping through the free entertainment paper. Nearing the last few pages I saw a picture of a guy who looked familiar, stopped, then stared, and finally clued in. It was Jim Byrnes, the guy I'd been talking about that very same afternoon. "When oh when was this concert?" I thought, "I absolutely have to go to this." So I made a mad dash to the calendar and came to the realization that it was TONIGHT.
I made some calls and couldn't find any tickets available online, or from Ticketmaster. Nor could I find anyone willing to brave the extremely cold weather to go. But, I decided to take my chances and head down anyway. Maybe I could get a ticket at the door, and if not...well at least I would have tried.
Turns out that the show was in a very small little community centre, and it was fantastic. I guarantee you I was the youngest person there but I honestly didn't care. For those of you who don't know who Jim Byrnes is, you've probably seen him on TV and never even knew it. His most prominent role was as Joe Dawson on the Highlander series, and he's done guest-appearances on tons of other shows, as well as a lot of voiceovers. On top of that, the guy is a standout musician too.
The show was easily worth my $25 and I haven't had that much fun in a long time. Jim's good natured storytelling between songs, and his love of performing were bright lights on a dark and icy evening. You could tell that he loves what he does down to the core of his soul, and it oozed out into the audience as well. I count myself extremely lucky to have had a chance to chat very briefly with him after the concert, and get a copy of his latest album House of Refuge signed. I'll never forget how friendly and approachable he was, even though you could tell he was obviously tired and eager to return to his hotel.
Now for the contrast. In January I was generously given some tickets to a band that I've liked for a long time: Evanescence. Needless to say, this performance was at a far larger venue, the Pengrowth Saddledome. From the moment we walked in the door, complete with security check, I just felt off. My sister and I thought the first act was quite good, but can't recall their names. I actually can't remember the name of the second band either, despite having heard a few of their singles on the radio. I must be getting old or something, because even I thought the guy swore too much during his exchanges with the crowd. Don't get me wrong, I'm not allergic to harsh language, and could certainly be blamed with using it a little too much myself, but I just didn't enjoy the act. Their music was very off-kilter as well, being either very radio-friendly poppish, or schizoid heavy. No flow to their act at all.
Much to our relief Evanescence finally took to the stage. Our seats were good, almost directly across from the stage and with only one row of people in front of us. While they were a little farther away than I'd have liked, they certainly afforded us a good view. The stage, lighting and everything were top notch. The band performed well and looked comfortable on-stage. My main complaint was Amy Lee herself. She pissed me off everytime she vocalized anything that wasn't part of a song.
Why, you ask? Her attitude was so, "poor tired, touring me" that it leeched any enjoyment I may have experienced right out of her performance. She simply didn't want to be there, and made it crystal clear every time she opened her mouth. Having performed live myself dozens of times, I just don't get it. I hated rehearsing, moving gear, setting up and all of that shit. But when it came down to stepping onstage and entertaining people with our music, that made it all worthwhile. If you as a performer find that part onerous, you're simply in the wrong fucking business. Your fans are the people who've made you famous (and probably rich), so don't go whining about how tired you are of the hit song they paid to hear you perform. Just bloody do it, and at least pretend you're happy to be doing it. Otherwise, find another damn job.
I can only hope there are more performers out there like Jim Byrnes. He may never get wealthy doing what he does, but he obviously loves it. And in that, makes everyone who's lucky enough to see him perform, a little richer in the process.