Jann Arden / November 19, 2005 in Montreal

Anytime you attend a Jann Arden concert it is like you are getting two shows for the price of one. Arden provides the concertgoer with a night of beautiful morose music and a stand-up comedy routine between songs. I always wonder if she discovered that she has to juxtapose, the sadness of her music with the belly laughs of her between song banter or else her audience would contemplate slitting their wrists after her shows. Whatever the reason, her shows work. It was announced at the beginning of the show that Montreal was the last date on a three-month tour for Jann and her band, so we were warned that it was going to be an anything goes type show. I don't think there was going to be any complaints from the audience because of that announcement.

For the second time that I know of Arden used her guitar tech Bob Kemmis as her opening act. For the 30 minutes he played you could understand why. First of all, he works alone (other than being accompanied on one song by his newly purchased Ipod, which he discovered he could write off as a business expense if he used it in his shows), which is cheaper than paying a whole band and he has the same type of off-the-wall humour as Jann Arden. His songs, stage presence and style of humour are all of the laid back variety which seemed alright by the Montreal audience. Even though his music was of the acoustic slow-paced variety several times during his set members of the audience tried to get the clapping along with the song going, but, as he warned them himself at one point, his music involved many pauses making the clapping impossible. His music makes you believe that you are in a coffee shop in the 1960s listening to someone perform with an acoustic guitar. He warmed the audience up by playing his songs Acquired Taste, Freak Luck, I Adore You, Letter to Gotham (Now Its Okay), When Your Heart Aches, and Late Night Advice.

I have seen Jann Arden perform numerous times and she is the type of artist that I never get tired of seeing perform. Maybe it is because every show is unpredictably different because of her above mentioned comedic banter between songs or maybe it is because of the sometimes startling personal nature of her lyrics. I don't know. Whatever it is the lady knows how to entertain an audience. The sound at the Olympia Theatre was great and her 5-piece backing band (Russell Broom on guitar, Darcy Phillips on keyboards, Graham Powell on guitar, Lyle Molzan on drums, and Maury Lafoy on bass) was tight. Arden told the audience after two songs that with every album she records (the latest, her eighth, the self-titled 'Jann Arden') she has more trouble choosing which songs to perform, so she decided to play her favourites. For the next two hours, Arden made us laugh, cry, feel, sway, and sing along with her music. Arden was her usual zany self inviting her manager onstage to sing Happy Birthday to her with the audience and entertaining us with stories about getting her mom to swear, sleeping with the guy who owned her apartment building in Vancouver to pay the rent, and the difficulties of feminine hygiene products. No topic is off limits with this lady! On a more serious note, she announced that it was coming up on 30 years that she has been in the music industry, which was never something that a girl from the Prairies ever dreamed of for herself. Even after 30 years she is not jaded about the music industry that is always trying to make women like her fit into a mould (she has always been told by record executives that she is about 30 pounds away from stardom). She gave thanks to her fans and the flexibility of the recording industry in Canada for giving her the ability to earn a nice living doing what she loves to do. When a 'no bullshit' artist like Arden says things like that you tend to believe her. The evening of music and laughs was low on the glitz (simple white backdrop and simple yet effective lighting), but high on quality of music, level of intimacy and just generally a fun evening (which is saying a mouthful due to the darkness of her lyrics) all around.

Set List:
1) How Good Things Are
2) All Of This
3) Will You Remember Me
4) Holy Moses
5) I'd Be Glad
6) I Am Waiting
7) How Good Things Are
8) I Would Die For You (without band)
9) Unloved (with Bob Kemmis)
10) Is She Really Going Out With Him (performed by Maury and Graham)
11) Wishing That
12) Calling God
13) Where No One Knows Me
14) If You Loved Me
15) Willing To Fall Down
16) Could I Be Your Girl
17) Good Mother
18) How Much Is That Doggy In The Window (for her manager's son Ike)
19) The Sound Of
20) To Sir With Love
21) Waiting In Canada
22) Insensitive

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