July 12, 1999: Festival d'été de Québec, Québec CityClick here to see the pictures from this show
What an extraordinary trip! Carol and I left Sunday morning, and drove straight to the KOA campground where we were staying for the first night. Though I hadn't talked to Jane from Virginia for several weeks, I had recommended the campground to her, and sure enough, when we got there, she and her family had already checked in and we were able to get the space next to them! :) They weren't at the campsite when we arrived (around 6 PM), so we set up our tent, grabbed a quick bite, and headed into the city to see the Ennis Sisters who were performing at 8 PM. Traffic was very heavy going into the old city, so unfortunately we missed the first song, BUT everyone was seated so Jane spotted us right away! I dashed through the crowd to sit with them, but Carol was too shy to follow me so she waited until after the set was over to join us.
We really enjoyed the Ennis Sisters' performance. They sounded SO much better than they had on the ECMA's, and they were so into the music that they were also a joy to watch. Carol and I had listened to their album during the trip north, so we were psyched to see them anyways, but they really exceeded our expectations. AND they ended with two NFLD trad songs: I'se the B'y, and Excursion Around the Bay! You could tell who the GBS fans in the audience were because we punched our fists into the air after every chorus, and the Ennis Sisters only did that at the very end of the song. ;) Afterwards, Jane's kids were exhausted and Carol and I were ready to get some rest too, so we all headed back and met up again at the campground. Jane came over to our picnic table, and the three of us had a mini kitchen party and stayed up until midnight talking about all kinds of things.
The next morning we all got up around the same time, and I got my cassette out of the car so that Jane and her family could finally get to hear TURN! (Yes, they liked it on the first listen!) We all did our morning stuff, then Carol and I took down our tent while Jane and her family headed over to visit the Montmorency Falls. Carol and I headed over to one of the malls to kill a couple of hours before we could check into our hotel, which was about 1/3 block away from the concert site - convenient or what? Then we took showers, got ready, and headed over to the concert site which opened at 5 PM. Richard Wood was playing at 8, then GBS was on at 9:30, but the time really flew plus we had comfortable chairs to sit on and magazines and books to read while we waited. Jane and her family got there shortly after 6, so they laid down their blanket and her husband took the kids to see the Cirque de demain while she hung out with us again. We ended up front and center, though Jane went back to her blanket when her family got back. (Remember, I have to be close to take pictures, especially since it was a few metres between the barricade and the stage, and I'm shooting without flash.)
Richard Wood took the stage promptly at 8, wearing black vinyl jeans and a shiny short-sleeved shirt over a t-shirt - not bad on the eyes at all. ;) We really liked his music, he's a very talented fiddler and quite a flashy performer. He had the crowd on their feet from the start, which was fine with us, because we knew that everyone would be standing for GBS as well. :) We thought he was a great choice as an opener for GBS, and if he's playing in your area, go see him, you won't regret it! He played for a full hour, coming back twice for encores for the enthusiastic audience.
Finally, at 9:30, GBS took the stage and the crowd went wild. It may have been the equivalent of a sold-out show, because the park was definitely packed with fans! The set list was: Process Man, Billy Peddle, Ordinary Day, Consequence Free, Goin' Up, Boston and St. John's, Little Beggarman, Tunez, Paddy Murphy, Trois Navires de Blé, Old Black Rum, General Taylor, Lukey, I'm a Rover, Fast As I Can, Ferryland Sealer, When I'm Up, Mari Mac, Excursion Around the Bay, Aunty Mary, a first encore of Feel It Turn and End of the World, and a second encore of Rant & Roar (short version) and finally Jakey's Gin. Though the crowd was predominantly Francophone, they definitely knew all the songs and didn't need to be taught their parts - and you should have heard everyone at the beginning of Mari Mac, it was amazing!
Alan spoke French many times, and every time he did the crowd cheered very loudly. (Carol doesn't speak French, so I translated for her.) But I must say that his French was pretty good! :) He also introduced Trois Navires de Blé in French, and he sang it quite well, though he did mess up the lyrics slightly - he sang et les petits enfants pleurer when he was supposed to sing et les jolies filles envoler le coeur - but that was his only mistake. (BTW, he definitely said "One more!" near the end of the song.) He was also very funny in French, telling the audience that he liked their customary greeting of kissing each cheek. Sean spoke French a few times, and at one point he sang "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi" to Alan - somehow I didn't catch what he was singing, but luckily Carol did. Sean also did his best to distract Alan several times, including trying to blow in his ear, but Alan was usually able to remain focused. Still, it was quite funny!
All the guys were very UP for the show, and Sean did a lot of inspired dancing. You could tell they were very pleased with the enthusiastic audience, especially since it was their first time playing Québec City. From the looks of things, it won't be their last. :) (Jane and her family lasted as far as Ferryland Sealer, because the crowd had grown so much by then that it was getting risky for her kids.) Afterwards, the guys did a signing at the HMV tent which was a few blocks away, so Carol and I dropped off our excess baggage at the hotel and went over to get my TURN booklet signed (she had forgotten her own back at home - next time!) The line was quite long and moving at a snail's pace, but we found ourselves standing next to other Anglophones and we shared our GBS stories with each other. Then Tony Pitcher came by and announced to the crowd that things needed to move faster because they had leave soon to drive to the next show in NJ. Fortunately the line moved much faster after that, and everyone who was waiting got to make it to the signing table.
As we got closer, I saw that Alan was getting a lot of customary French greetings from the girls. I was thinking, awww, that's cute, but I don't have the nerve to ask for that... but I didn't even have to ask. As soon as I got to the table, he jumped up and shouted "Fran!" and practically demanded the greeting from me! Like twist my arm.... ;) Then I got my booklet signed by all the guys, and told Darrell, "See, we told you we'd be here!" because we had told him a couple of weeks ago at the Ben & Jerry's Festival that we were going. Then we told them that we'd see them on Saturday in Greenfield, MA... after that, Carol and I went back to our hotel and had another kitchen party.
We had yet another Great Big Moment on our way home the next day - we
stopped at HMV at the mall in Sherbrooke so Carol could buy new copies
of the Canadian releases (her mother told her to because their computer's
CD-ROM drive had scratched her original copies). As usual, I was wearing
a GBS t-shirt. We found the CDs quickly, went to the register, and... the
sales clerk remembered me from three weeks earlier when I had bought eight
copies of TURN there! He said, "More Great Big Sea CDs for the American
fans?" and Carol and I just cracked up, and I explained that these CDs
were for her. What the heck, there are far worse things to have a reputation
for than for being a GBS fan!