Monday, 21 December 2009

O Holy Night, Batman!

We made our annual pilgrimage to the Stuart McLean Vinyl Cafe Christmas concert. After last year's trek through the blizzard without buses, it was rather a relief to take elder daughter, younger daughter, and this year, Demeter on the bus through the frigid Ottawa streets where we had a loge to ourselves. I felt confident that it would be a pretty good show when Stuart McLean opened with a slightly abbreviated version of my all-time favourite Dave-and-Morley Christmas story "Polly Anderson's Christmas Party", but I didn't see what was coming when a young man named Matt Andersen walked onto the stage.

Okay. He looks like a young Meatloaf. Sounds a bit like him too, but just imagine Meatloaf with less melodrama, more soul, a healthy dollop of folks and blues, and a Maritimer sensibility. He started singing, and I thought: He's good. As the song continued, I thought: Actually, he's amazing. And then, I don't know how to describe this, I drifted away on his voice, his performance, the marvelous support of bassist Dennis Pendrith and pianist John Sheard, both remarkable musicians in their own right and regulars on the Vinyl Cafe. The audience burst into applause mid-song and swept to their feet when he finally finished. Now, it's true that Ottawa audiences will give standing ovations to practically anybody; I'm not sure whether they want to be seen as discerning or warm (they are neither), but this time, they had a point. If you have seven minutes to spare please watch this; it will give you some idea of what we experienced. If you have two minutes, listen anyway; that's about how long it took for me to start wondering: Gad. Who is this guy?

When he came on again, they called up his mother from the audience. His parents had just flown in from New Brunswick and it had been his dad's first time on a plane, apparently. Matt sang a duet with his mum and it was...great. Then later, he sang "O Holy Night". I don't even like "O Holy Night" and I was transfixed.

Damn. This guy is good.

The rest of the show wasn't bad either.

1 comment:

VioletSky said...

I see what you mean - what a surprise!
Love Stuart McLean - have never seen him live (yet).