IN CONCERT - JOE JACKSON in WINNIPEG
At those times when life gets hurried with work and chores, energy, come evening time, is often scarce. Leaving time to nurture our relationships as a bit of a luxury. Yet, all this furious activity gives way to appreciation when those nurturing times come.
Considering what we’re all still experiencing right now, there is hope on the horizon that those nurturing times will return after we all get back to our own autonomous activities.
This particular evening in the city was magical. A summer storm was about to pass through and as mother nature prepared for her concerto of thunder and lighting, the prelude was serene and calming.
The clouds slowly gathered overhead creating small portals that revealed the pink and soft orange of sunset. Entering the deer + almond restaurant, we chose a quiet table by the window to watch the first show of the evening.
We began our dining experience with some suggested cocktails of the day followed by a small bowl of the most delicious popcorn. Light kernels of puffed corn lightly tossed with salt, herbs and unexpectedly, horseradish. It was divine!
The meals here are served family-style with separate serving plates for each person. Which is perfect because Darren and I usually try each other’s choices anyway. lol
My mom often told me that my eyes were bigger than my stomach. Reading the mouth-watering menu proved her point! We chose a spread of Tagliatelle, a pasta type collaboration of chilis, mushroom butter, sesame, furikake and tamago and fried chicken on a bed of cornbread, chili sesame glaze, greens, and alabama white sauce.
After cleaning our plates, we sat for a moment to digest and breathe and chat about how nice it was to be out and about. We then stepped back outside and observed that those sunset portals had disappeared into a blanket of dark gray.
We arrived at our destination as tiny droplets began to fall. The Burton Cummings Theatre. Originally known as the Walker Theatre, the Burton Cummings Theatre for Performing Arts or ‘The Burt’ was constructed in 1906-07.
The Theatre was built in the hopes of bringing more professional-level entertainment to Winnipeg.
After being designated as a National Historic Site of Canada as well as a Provincial Heritage Site, the building’s original architectural features were restored and it reopened as a venue for live performance in March 1991. In 2002, it was renamed after Winnipeg-born musician Burton Cummings, former lead singer of the Guess Who.
And who should be playing at ‘The Burt’? Joe Jackson! This English-borne icon of the revived mod rock movement played his first paying gig at the age of 16. By 1978 Joe was put together an astounding album-length demo, with his own band which included Graham Maby on bass. That demo found its way to American producer David Kershenbaum with A&M Records.
Joe was immediately signed and the band finally started to play regular gigs. The last time Joe Jackson played Winnipeg was back in the mid 90’s, so the energy and anticipation felt while standing in line was electric!
Once inside, the usher checked our tickets and led us into the theatre foyer where we came upon an ornate libation station. The bar! Around the counter were people giving me flashbacks with their attire. It was just so great! All this nostalgia made me grin from ear to ear.
We sat in our fourth-row seats for a while admiring the art deco design of the building and chit-chatting with those around us. “Have you ever seen him live?” and “I saw him the last time he came to town, 23 years ago!” Hahaha We were all just a bit younger then.
Suddenly, the theatre darkened. Cheers and whistles filled the cavernous room. A moment of silence befell the crowd and a single spotlight lit a lone keyboard.
Then….he entered the stage and the crowd stood up, clapping and cheering! A sea of cell phones rose up in the air, capturing the moment. He played a familiar tune, rousing the nostalgic crowd!!
Then he departed. The stage went black. Only the tiny lights along the pathways could be seen. Moments later, the single spotlight shone again upon the re-emerging headliner. His fingers danced across the 88 keys creating a once-again familiar melody. This time, a more recent tune.
A second spotlight shone. This time on Joe Jackson’s longtime bassist, Graham Maby. Still together, after all these years! A third spotlight shone on the drummer and then a fourth, on the guitarist. The lights changed color throughout the show reflecting the mood of each song.
Oh, the memories that flew through my mind with every change of tune. The band also shared some tunes that were yet to be recorded, as well. “For an upcoming album”, he said. The crowd was definitely pleased that this rocker was not ready to quit yet!
Nearing the end of the set, they played a rendition of “Steppin’ Out” that I hadn’t heard before. A slower, more somber version. I really liked it. Evidently so did the crowd. They insisted on two encores!
At the end of the second, the spotlights above each band member darkened, starting in reverse order as to how the show began. Until there was just the one. The one everyone had come to see. He promised not to wait another 30 years to visit again and the crowd cheered!! Then, that spotlight darkened and the evening was complete.
On the slow drive home, Darren and I reminisced on old times and how we wished that we knew each other then. The clouds broke momentarily, revealing a brilliant moon to guide our way home.
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