Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sexy Back on a Tuesday night in Ottawa

My 17-yr-old niece is not talking to me anymore. Because last night, I was at the JT concert. And she was not.

Now to be completely honest, I didn't even realize that JT was touring. Hell, I didn't even realize that he put out a new album. These days, I think of him more for his guest appearances on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (that #hashtag skit makes me cry every time). Plus, I'm a Springsteen fan. I live in the blue collar world of the musical anti-hero, and not in the glammed-up world of pop/R&B. Still, when the opportunity came up to see JT, I jumped on it. Cause, well, it's JT. And let's face it, ladies. He is one good-looking man!

And an extremely talented one! He can sing, he can dance, and most importantly, he can play the guitar. Is there anything in this whole wide world more attractive than a man with a guitar? I don't think so. Am I right, ladies?

Pulling out his guitar. Oh my...

Oh no, wait a minute... there is. And it's a man with an undone bow tie and a slight southern drawl who travelled across the crowd on a mechanical, elevated stage so that he could do a guitar solo of Elvis' Heartbreak Hotel.

Heartbreak Hotel cover - made me a little weak in the knees
Seriously. I. Lost. My. Mind. I was born in the 70s and raised by a mother who, like all women with a pulse at the time, was in love with Elvis. So a shoutout to the King gave me goosebumps. Not to mention that it was one hell of a classy way to acknowledge his Memphis roots. Because let's face it - without the groundbreaking musical movement that was Elvis, he wouldn't be doing what he does now.

Props also went out to Michael Jackson, with a cover of Human Nature from the Thriller album. Another album that I grew up with, and a song that I haven't heard in over 20 years. And another classy move to acknowledge the man who was undeniably at the core of the pop music movement. It just felt right that he would honour the memories of two of music's greatest who paved the way for him to do what he does.

And then, of course, there was his own stuff. Which, admittedly, I'm not all that familiar with. With the exception of the few songs that are on my running list - Sexy Back being one of the best running songs of all time. But you don't have to be familiar with it to appreciate it. Because whether you can sing along to the lyrics or not, that man puts on a show! Yes there is all the dancing and an incredible light show, but what got me about this concert was the floating stage.

The stage that "floated" across the entire crowd
Reaching out to his fans while travelling across the Canadian Tire Centre

He was right there in front of us! I'm sure he is waving at me!

A floating stage is cool - no doubt about it. But it's also a way to reach out and "touch" everyone in the crowd. To make them all feel that, no matter where they may be sitting in the stadium, they are just as important to him as those who got lucky enough to get into the first few rows on the floor. Props to you, JT, for this element, and for staying at the back for a few songs before floating back up to the main stage. You made us all feel like you wanted to be an intimate part of our experience, even if just for a minute or two as you floated across the crowd. But it was enough to make us all feel special!

And a word or two must be said about the incredibly talented musicians and performers backing him up. The Tennessee Kids are outstanding in their own rite. From the back-up vocals to the horn section to the dancers - they bring raw energy and talent to support their front man, and they have fun while doing it! Which guarantees that the crowd will have fun too.

And speaking of the crowd... Ottawa, I am proud of you. Because let's face it, this city has the reputation for being the place where fun goes to die, in part because Ottawa crowds don't stand at concerts. Worst yet, they get angry at those around them who want to stand and dance. I've even seen security haul someone out - at a Prince concert, no less - just because she wouldn't sit down. It kills me every single time. But last night, for the first time in my 20 years of concert-going in this city, you were on your feet! Every single one of you. From start to finish, the entire crowd, minus a few stragglers here and there, was up. And vibrating with energy. So very un-Ottawa! And so incredible to see. Maybe I just need to come to more pop/R&B concerts!?!?!

So yes, it was a great night. Proving once again that music is the eternal equalizer, bringing us all together to share a few hours of magic. Well worth the 45 minutes it took to get out of the Canadian Tire Centre parking lot. And well worth the seven cups more of coffee that I am going to have to drain to get through today after such a late Tuesday night.

A few more snap shots of the night:

There's only one way to experience a JT concert, and that is with your best girls! 

First glimpse of the stage 

First glimpse of the man himself

The crowd was asked to pull out their cell phones. And they did!

The light show