Sunday, 15 December 2013

My daughters are fully clothed

I've always associated the BareNaked Ladies with my daughters. Wait. That sounds completely wrong. I mean I associate their music with my daughters.My earliest memories of the Barenaked Ladies is probably this video, one of those rare covers that actually outdoes the original. It was getting airplay the winter I was pregnant with elder daughter. I adore the video because I spent the first year of my marriage in Toronto and this is just so evocative of suburban Toronto in the depths of February. (BNL is [are?] from Scarborough, in the eastern reaches of the Greater Toronto area.)

The following summer, after elder daughter's arrival, I would steal time for myself in the evenings, leaving her with the Resident Fan Boy while I took a long stroll down to McCauley Point and Saxe Point Park. "If I had a Million Dollars" floated out of open windows along with the aroma of cooking dinners.

I had a rare escape from the infant younger daughter as well, this time with the Resident Fan Boy, the evening the girls' godparents baby-sat and we walked up the hill to the Royal Theatre to see BNL in concert. We had tickets in the gods and a group of about four or five students asked us if we minded if they stood up to dance. (Imagine! People asking ahead of time if you minded if they danced at a concert! BNL fans are a different breed.) We pointed out a flat platform directly behind us and they climbed up and had a fine time, while I, a few weeks' postpartum and chronically sleep-deprived, sat in comfort and had an equally fine time, singing along to "The Old Apartment".

Earlier this week, elder daughter wrote on my Facebook wall (which saved her the trouble of coming downstairs): "Did I turn down the Barenaked Ladies?" She'd evidently only just checked the calendar. I replied that we'd got the tickets in August, long before we knew when she'd be home for Christmas. Texts were despatched to the Resident Fan Boy downtown, and last night, with a full-blown winter storm warning bearing down on Hades, all four of us headed off to Southam Hall to hear the Barenaked Ladies play with the National Arts Centre Orchestra. The RFB, younger daughter, and I found ourselves in the front row, with elder daughter about four rows behind us.

It was particularly interesting seeing the current line-up of the Barenaked Ladies this particular evening because we had just seen Steven Page, who used to share lead vocals with Ed Robertson, three weeks before, performing Sergeant Pepper. "Page-less", the Barenaked Ladies are as funny and entertaining as ever, but a bit more low-key. In their heyday, Kevin Hearn, Jim Creeggan, and Tyler Stewart were more like back-up for the dynamic duo of Robertson and Page. Now, they seem a little more democratic. Robertson still does the lion-share of the lead vocals, but we got to hear Hearn and Creeggan too. (Creeggan did the orchestral arrangements for the NAC Orchestra.) We even got Tyler Stewart doing a diva-worthy rendition of "Felice Navidad".

As exciting as it was to be a matter of feet away from the Barenaked Ladies, there was little in the way of leg-room with my knees only a few inches from the edge of the stage. Try as I might, I soon found my left knee cramping and stiffening, no matter what position I attempted to take without disturbing my neighbours. After hearing the "Carol of the Bells" (which we used to sing in school before direct references to the Christmas story were discouraged), a mixture of Christmas songs and BNL hits (including the theme to The Big Bang Theory and the aforementioned "Lovers in a Dangerous Time"), and a lot of joshing between the Barenaked Ladies and members of the orchestra, I was in a gentle sort of agony, so switched seats with elder daughter at the intermission. She took her place next to younger daughter, and I found myself amid strangers who seemed mildly puzzled to have me there. It was considerably warmer even just four rows back, but I had a good view, and could watch my daughters enjoying the show. (And my knee was much relieved and told me so.)

The show finished with the big hits "One Week" and "Million Dollars" (of course), and, after a standing ovation, the great BNL tradition of burlesquing a dozen recent pop tunes such as Taylor Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble". I could see elder and younger daughter enjoying this immensely.

As we made our way out of the theatre, ushers handed us Lindt milk chocolate teddy bears. That meant when I heard the jingling caps of orchestra members collecting money for the food bank and the Snow Suit Fund - well, how churlish would it have been to have slipped away, clutching my golden-wrapped chocolate bear?

Outside, the storm had arrived and we saw a taxi pull along the snow bank near the crosswalk and ran for it through a thick curtain of snowflakes. A lady arrived with us, realized we weren't her companions, and retreated in some embarrassment. The cabbie drove us swiftly through increasingly unrecognizable streets. Bright, white, Christmassy. And we made it home safely, because any other outcome would be decidedly un-Christmassy.

They didn't sing this song last night, but it's kind of Christmassy with all those stars. This is a collaboration between Ed Robertson and Commander Chris Hadfield who, last spring, was still in orbit on the International Space Station. Support from the rest of the Barenaked Ladies (you can see drummer Tyler Stewart and bassist Jim Creeggan) and the Wexford Gleeks from Wexford Collegiate School for the Arts in Toronto:

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