Well, my friends, I'm finally done my 10 show Alberta odyssey. It was such a great month full of memorable moments.
In general, meeting new people and seeing familiar faces along the way had to be the joint highlight of this journey for me. Random highways, dozens of podcasts, giant transmission towers, seedy motels, hole in the wall bars, and lush Airbnbs stitched it all together. There were vastly different venues - from a bar where the entire lighting rig couldn't be set up and wings were being served on covered pool tables to brand new opulent theaters engineered for sound and live performance. The venues really added a dynamic that I didn't anticipate when I was feverishly buying the tickets what seems like more than half a year ago.
Poesy was probably my favorite opener of any recent MG tour. She's a great songwriter and performer. The two fellows she was touring with are class as well. I look forward to seeing them perform as a full band when they cross through the city.
Walking into the Airdrie show not knowing what to expect was like having a fuse lit. Selling You My Heart really left an impression on me. Red Deer's show was in a bar, but they were respectful enough to post notes around indicating that this was going to be an intimate acoustic performance. That was a nice touch and I think a lot of the audience took heed. St. Albert had the first performance of Blue Skies and of course MG's return to the Edmonton area after his collapse during the OLP / MG tour. In Grande Prairie, I really got to connect with the crew working on this tour and it was fascinating to learn about the logistics and other technical aspects of it. Medicine Hat was amazing. The audience was respectful, MG was in a great mood playing as well as I've ever seen, and the venue sounded superb. The Empty Road closer was a welcome surprise. Camrose had a setlist that was comprised of 13 MGB songs, and only three solo ones. If you're a fan of the old stuff, that was the show for you. In Fort Saskatchewan, MG woke up with no voice, but still put on a killer performance. How It Goes is another favorite of mine, and seeing that was another highlight. The "this is it" part of Prime Time Deliverance was unique to all other performances I've seen or heard. Lloydminster had a venue that sounded really good and MG was on fire during the banter sections - so hilarious.
Seeing Avalanche in Edmonton after such a long absence from any shows I was in attendance for was truly a pleasure. That song has special significance for me, and I think I'd have to say it's still my favorite MG song. The spontaneous nature of MG adding that song to the set really solidified Edmonton as one of my all time favorite shows along with Medicine Hat. If my recollection serves me right, the show was the longest one I saw on this tour. It was an immense pleasure to hang out with some folks from this board. Nothing quite beats the camaraderie of other enthusiastic and informed people when it comes to music. I got to hang out with Gursky and PlasticSolider up above the floor crowd and I wouldn't have traded it for another night at MG's feet. Both have their merits, but there's just something about hanging out with people who have the same type of in-depth knowledge and appreciation. It was great to take it in from that vantage point as well.
Calgary was interesting to say the least. The show was in a beautiful venue - probably the most gorgeous theater on this tour. I see the incident regarding the woman yelling has taken on a life of its own on social media. She was behind me to the right. She yelled out a request for The Inescapable Us. MG replied that he really didn't know where to start with that one other than that it was recorded in open tuning. Just as he was about to tell the crowd about the recording, the same woman yelled, "NOBODY CARES! JUST PLAY IT!" Afterwards, it certainly seemed like there was an awkward tension in the room. MG still played really well, but from there out, there was no banter, no Load Me Up chorus challenge, no tip of the hat, or reciprocal applause to the crowd. As everyone has probably seen on Instagram by now, he posted the setlist with the simple caption, "Calgary." Normally, he'd post something along the lines of "Thanks Edmonton!!" This reminded me of the show I saw in Courtenay during the Arrows of Desire tour. Somebody up front took a jab at MG's physical appearance and from then on, the band ran through the setlist, left after the main set, played the encore, and then MG walked straight off the stage. I don't blame him. He's no obligated to do anything other than play music, I suppose. Oddly enough, I saw the woman who caused this commotion in the washroom after the show... the men's washroom.
There were still highlights to be identified at the Calgary show though. For example, Hopeless was a really welcome surprise in the encore. Blue Skies was much more polished than the version we were treated to in St. Albert. The long and short double delay really created atmospherics that I can't recall at other MG shows, full band or otherwise, save for maybe Los Alamos.
Anyhow... It's been a long day. Many great memories have been made and I look forward to the next adventure.