In a flash the arena went black, the sound went dead and the crowd one by one began to whistle and cheer. The power outage that was sweeping the Peace Region caused by the crazy winds, had reached the Encana Events Centre and when the backup lighting system kicked in, the intimate, dark, red and purple hues of the Blue Rodeo concert lighting, turned into that bright horrible lighting you find in school gymnasium.
So the lighting and the sound equipment were gone…those elements thought in this day and age to be cornerstones of a memorable show of grandeur in an arena. ‘Holy cow, man! Did you see that light show? What an awesome concert! And the sound! I felt like I was inside the drum kit!’
No, no; comments like these weren’t going to be heard by the participants of the Blue Rodeo show that took hold of the Encana Centre. For this show, people were walking away knowing they had just experienced something special. Not because of the smoke and mirrors of a stage performance, but because of the connection made between the band and the audience when this jazz, blues, rock and roll show turned acoustic.
No one knew how long the power was going to be out for, but right away Blue Rodeo carried on with the show. Workers at the Encana Centre said this was one of the rare times when a band stayed up to perform even without electricity. Usually they just walk off, but not Jim Cuddy and the gang. After the show, Devin Cuddy, who was able to get through his opening set with full power, said, “They were fortunate to have the equipment to play acoustic. It was an experience for everyone, it was an experience for me.”
Some fans left, but most stayed, as everyone quickly settled into the new vibe of the show. It turned into what felt like a jam session with guys drumming on the amps, and all of the fans on the bottom level invited up to the front of the stage for a more intimate feel, and also, so they could hear.
Eventually the sound from the stage was hooked up to the arena system and mics were in use, just as the hits like, Hasn’t Hit Me Yet, Lost Together, and Five Days in May were being performed live with a captivatingly raw sound. Harmonicas just ringing through, accordion heard crisply complimented by the classic voices of Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor.
With the lights on, though a little weird at first, soon the human aspect of the concert became part of its charm—the dad resting with his daughter in the corner, later seen swirling around on the dance floor; the security guard Doug who was playing along on his harmonica and very well at that; the couples snuggling in to just listen or dancing in the isles.
As folks were leaving one lady said to her friend, “That was a very special night, wasn’t it?”
I think most who stayed would agree in fact it was. Though it all went wrong, it was the perfect amount of right.