We got to the Conexus Arts Centre with a half-hour to spare and the traffic was already bonkers. I thought this was weird for a show with assigned seating, but it turned out that half of the theatre's parking lot was ripped up and unusable. No signage on site, no advertising (that I saw, anyway), just one lonely Commissionaire directing traffic - after people had already got caught in the jam. I wound up following some cars who all arbitrarily decided to park on the street in a no-parking zone. I joined in, hoping that they wouldn't ticket all of us.
Spoiler: they didn't.
And though there was one hairy moment when leaving when we were being passed by oncoming traffic on both sides of the car, the whole thing went surprisingly smoothly despite some poor (or, rather, non-existent) planning on the Centre's part. There went my vitriol, and with it, my pre-planned review opening. So instead I jumped straight into the (lack of) action. I hope that was good enough, because the writing isn't going to get any better from here.
Speaking of stories that don't mean anything to anyone but me, on Wednesday, I was looking at Hawksley Workman's Twitter feed. He had replied to someone named Lindi Ortega, and for whatever reason, I clicked through to her Twitter, found out she was a country singer, and wondered if she ever came out this way. Then the next night, we went to k.d. lang and she was the opener. Isn't that just the most amazing disinteresting and unverifiable story? Remember when these reviews used to be full of hilarious drunken goings-on? Now it's mild Twitter coincidences.
Anyway, I thought Lindi Ortega was pretty good. There was one awkwardly hilarious moment when she said that the Regina crowd was good-looking, and some yokel in the front row (presumably not from Regina) shouted out "you're in Saskatchewan." It sounded like he was correcting her, leading to mass confusion for all concerned.
When that happened, I thought it might make for an amusing anecdote but reading it back, man, I couldn't make that sound interesting to save my life. I've got nothing tonight. So what can I say about k.d. lang, other than she's really good? I suppose the best endorsement I can give is that it was worth taking abuse from the guys at work the next day:
Scott: "Last night, we had our last football game of the season. Once it was over, we all sat around outside and drank beers for hours. I thought we'd brought enough, but at one point, we had to send a guy out for another 30-pack."
James: "Last night, I went to see k.d. lang. That's about as manly, right?"
Apparently, it is not. I didn't even mention the part where I stood around holding Mika's purse while she was in the washroom.
The purse-holding took place after Lindi Ortega's set. A kindly Ontarian took pity on me while he was waiting for his wife - I didn't notice if he was holding a purse too - and we had a nice chat about how nice the people are in Regina. I'm not sure what it says about me that I now consider every random encounter with a stranger to be a perfect chance to practice my impromptu speaking skills, but it does make me chattier. Toastmasters works in mysterious ways. I'm not sure how well it works when I spend an evening writing concert reviews instead of writing my humourous speech contest entry, though.
Speaking of humour or the lack thereof, k.d. lang and her band, The Siss Boom Bang, were introduced by someone with a fake wacky German accent. He was also wearing a tie with a banjo on it. A BANJO!!! I did not quite know what to make of this. Luckily, we got down to the singing parts pretty quickly, and - I'm sure I'm breaking news here, guys - she's good at that.
As far as song selection went, it was like an extended version of her set from the Folk Festival last year. And much like I said then, I don't really understand why she sings Hallelujah in the middle of the set. I know she didn't write it, but it's THE song that everyone was there to see. People cheer as soon as they recognize it and then go deathly silent until the extended standing ovation at the end of the song. I am certain she could walk out on stage, sing Hallelujah, and call it a night, and 90% of the people there would go home happy. But we also got close to two hours of her most famous songs, new ones, and covers, including Heaven by The Talking Heads which she joked she sang as penance. "Mostly because I don't want to lose my Chick-fil-A sponsorship," she added, which amused and confused the crowd in equal measure.
k.d. really does have an incredible stage presence. I don't know if it's something that can be taught, or if it just develops after years of performing, or if you're born with it. All I know is that while I have no vocal skills and even less range, I'm pretty sure I could match lang in oddball dance moves - except nobody'd care if I did them. Maybe this is something else I could try out at the next Toastmasters meeting.
"Are you ready for COCKER?" "Not really." To tell the truth, I wasn't either. Some cities got My Morning Jacket as the opening act for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers; others got Drive-By Truckers. Saskatoon got Joe Cocker.