Gord Downie and The Country of Miracles
September 22, 2010
By Whitney Bragagnolo
Gord Downie is undoubtedly an exceptional lyricist; so beautifully he paints a vivid illustration by taking a simple thought or sentence and manifests it into a song that transcends his audience, compelling them under his enchanting spell and right out of their seats.
Wednesday evening, Downie and the Country of Miracles officially revealed their newest release, “The Grand Bounce” live in Vancouver; the first stop on a 26 stop tour date across Canada. The Vogue Theatre was full of an array of people, young and old, groups of friends, couples, first time observers and lifetime fans of Downies work. Immediately, the album was warmly received by the audience. His talent obviously peaked on this third solo record; however it is also clearly still on its rise.
"Well, how are you tonight," said a smiling, Downie, and the audience went wild with cheers. “We love you Gordie!” shouts a man from the back corner, one who routinely, yet comically had conversations with Downie, and commentated substantially throughout the whole performance. In my concert going past, this is generally frowned upon, especially in such an intimate setting, but Downie, nor the crowd seemed to mind, everyone was in good spirits and everyone was their together united by camaraderie and good spirit. "It’s not every day you get to start a tour in Vancouver, Gordie replied, — “here we are."
Eclectic, unpretentious, and upbeat Downie and the Miracles dreamingly sailed through the album; the vocal contributions of Julie Doiron were a solid pairing with Downie, particularly in “Moon Over Glenora” which the combination of vocal harmonies, powerful keys, and rich guitars, was my most memorable song from the show, as well as a definite crowd pleaser. It was evident this group of musicians were having fun and the crowd felt it. Their positive and intoxicating chemistry resonated through the whole theatre, at many opportunities bringing everyone’s arms in the air, or the whole room to their feet. “Gordie for Prime Minister, We LOVE you Gord” shouts the heckler amongst the claps and cheers. “You’re beautiful!”
A comedic but unique piece to the Vancouver show was their Conway Twitty cover, in which the band awkwardly gazed at Downie as he uneasily tried to back pedal his mistake, “Its not the guitar, its the lyrics!”, he said. “I think I need to start over, is that ok?” which was followed by an approving and forgiving cheer and the evening heckler “Its okay Gordie, start over! You make beautiful mistakes!”. Downie laughed, and began over and they successfully chugged on. Dorian closed the song with, “Well, it’s a classic and special tour moment when you can tell it’s the first date, and we haven’t practiced this song a lot yet, but it was fun!”
Another crowd winner which I think every Vancouverite connected to last night was the words of “Yellow Days”, a definite tribute to Canadian summers. A line reads: “Summers always going turning everything Canada –grey”. Canada-grey, something we Vancouverites know all too well and something no one’s quite ready to surrender to just yet. It definitely brought a sense of sadness and a sense of realism as to what’s so closely around the corner, but upon reflecting deeper into the lyrics, it can be also interpreted as to how we also change with the seasons and as one chapter so suddenly comes to an end, so does a new beginning. It was upon that realization I breathed a sense of relief and a smile emerged again on my face. A smile that remained after the wonderful performance as I left the Vogue that night, umbrella in hand, off into the dismal-grey horizon.