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Olivia Newton John at the PNE

September 4, 2012

It’s quite fitting that my first show as a waste-coaster show be Olivia.  One of the few “must see’s” left on my list and she does an outdoor festival set within one week of my arrival – if that isn’t a good sign, I don’t know what is.

This was my first time going to a “fair” like the ones I’ve seen on tv and in the movies, I was amazed.  They even had deep-fried mars bars – no joke.  One thing I’ve noticed since I’ve been here is that everywhere advertises poutine for sale.  Way more than in la belle province, makes no sense but it’s the truth.  Anyhoo this fair is apparently the “big deal” that comes every summer and they have a big stage with shows day and night.  I saw an advertisement that lambchop performed Saturday afternoon which is kind of creepy since Shari Lewis died 14 years ago. 

When I saw the stage setup I realized that this must be BC’s version of Festival D’été, although it is tiny in comparison.  They had a grassy area in front and a fenced off “Beer Garden’s” at the back.  It’s a little oppressive and odd to not be able to drink during the show, but when in Rome…   They only allow a certain number of people into each area so you need a stamp to get around.  We went up front, got a stamp, went into the beer gardens and got our drink on for “Jewbilee in September”.  I was very happy with choice of Molson or Okanogan Valley Pale Ale on tap, quite a tasty microbrew.  Had a few ales and left the beer gardens to find the smoking section at the back of the fair.   There were four people there – I am a long way from Quebec.  We took a few quick discreet puffs and went back to the grassy area to see Olivia Neutron Bomb.

Lucky we had stamps because it was at complete capacity, which was funny because we had tons of room.  If this had been a  show at club soda it would have felt undersold.  They could easily have let twice as many people in.  The entire concert zone including the beer area had about 2500 people tops. Huge festival.  The lady and I definitely stood out.  We were being very polite and respectful but noticeably louder than everyone else who were talking under their breath and really sober.  I tried my traditional pre-show “WE WANT KISS” chant and got nothing back from the crowd except a few giggles.  My lady suggested pushing our way up front but the area was so small we didn’t need to.  We were at the back of the grass and it was like being at the stage right bar of Metropolis. It wasn’t even dark yet when she came onstage to pure silence.  I had to start a “wooo’ and clap a lot to get an applause going.  I kid you not, the crowd was more aggressive at L’Opera De Montreal than they were at this fest.   Not like I was expecting a metal show crowd but this was really lightweight. 

 The band sucked and the backup singers were god-awful, but Olivia’s voice was ridiculous.  She blows away Christina Aguilera.   Seriously strong, didn’t miss a note and just owned the place.  I wouldn’t say it was a Vegas show, more like  Atlantic City or some casino in Northern Ontario.  She did a lot of country,some love songs and all the necessary Grease hits.  But we all know what songs I wanted to hear.  About three songs in she did Xanadu, Suddenly and Magic. Later in the set she threw in Suspended in Time.  This was definitely not a music crowd.  They sat quietly when songs started and waited until the familiar chorus to clap politely and sort of sing along.   No one erupted during the first few notes of Magic,  and I heard someone behind me say “oh, I didn’t know that was her song.. what movie was she referring to?” during the chorus.  The fact that I could hear the person talking tells you the volume level.  It was still pretty amazing to hear – and the show was great… one of the true diva’s singing in top form.  Noticable awesomeness was how much greater she was when the backups couldn’t quite get her harmonies, there was definitely no click track or backing tape.  During the mediocre guitar solo, she harmonized the high notes.  I don’t think the guitarist could hit them, a legend like that deserves a stronger band.  During “You’re The One That I Want” she did the “Hoo-hoo-hoo” by herself and sounded fuller than had she been using a tape.

After her set we went to the washroom, which again was more polite and organized than the Opera in Montreal.   I walked into an arena that reminded me of a very clean Verdun Auditorium… the show should have been in there, it has the makings of a great venue.  Unfortunately it was being used for a horse show.  I’m not in Kansas anymore. 

The more I ask about events in this city, the more i realize that there is major potential to up the ante here.  Apparently the biggest event of the summer is the fireworks.  There’s a reason the F’estival D’été gets Elton John, while the PNE gets Olivia Newton John.  I’m gonna destroy this town.


From → concerts, life in BC

  1. Mike G permalink

    Ha ha. Welcome to BC. Very repressive with the alcohol laws, but you can smoke a dube right in front of a cop and they won’t even ask you to put it out……………..

  2. I’m an extra today on a tv show mad or requires 10 hours of waiti g around reading every blog and loving them. Please write 6 more by the end of the day. I’m running out

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