Chantal Kreviazuk Hits the Perfect Note

chantal kreviazuk live8At Oakville, Ontario’s intimate Centre for the Arts last Friday night it was truly a family affair. Canada’s version of Sonny and Cher, Chantal Kreviazuk and Raine Maida (frontman of Our Lady Peace) played together. In a real role reversal Maida, who is used to playing in stadiums with his high profile rock band, opened up for his wife with a short mostly acoustic set of music off his newly released EP entitled “Love Hope Hero”. Normally you would not find too many more intense performers than Maida but he had to tone it down a little in this setting. Performing alone has allowed him some freedom musically and he has used this to alter his usual style of music and vocals. Gone are the crunchy electric guitars and his famous (or infamous depending on your point of view) “Ai-ai-ai”s, they have been replaced by surprisingly strong vocals and an acoustic guitar. His lyrics are still mysterious and powerful for when he sings it feels as if he is preaching to us to become more active citizens in this crazy but beautiful world. Most of the crowd seemed to not know who he was (as the crowd in Oakville was a rather older one who were there because they have season tickets to the venue), but there were a few young shrieking girls in attendance so he did not feel completely like a fish out of water. He was accompanied by his laptop, a drummer, cellist, and his incognito (in a hoodie) wife on piano/vocals. Maida seemed relaxed and confident on stage though a bit out of sorts due to the crowd’s quiet nature.

Chantal Kreviazuk (sans hoodie) took the stage and proceeded to give her husband a little lesson in how to deal with an audience. She made the ‘connection’ with them early and as a result had them in the palm of her hand the entire evening. Whatever she wanted they did. She asked them to stand a couple of times and they lifted their creaking bones out of their chairs willingly. Some even swayed in time to the music. Amazing! Simply by making eye contact and talking to certain members of the audience (she engaged in a night long conversation with three women in the front row who she dubbed the ‘Winettes’) the audience was hers. She invested herself in them and they reciprocated. In between songs she did her usual banter with the audience giving them a little insight into her life, what the songs were about and anything else that captured her fancy. You cannot help but be won over by her warmness and the way she is willing to make her audience a big part of the show. She never performs alone.

Besides her winning personality on stage Kreviazuk’s piano playing and voice are second to none. I have always said that the woman does not need a microphone due to her powerful yet not over-the-top voice. She is always pitch-perfect yet allows a few flaws into her vocals. Never afraid to go for those incredibly rich high notes and use a raspy delivery when appropriate, you are always in wonder of the emotion, passion and control in her voice. A classically trained pianist, Kreviazuk has her own unique style at the keyboards. Her left hand flows over the bass keys while her right hand literally pounds the upper register keys with a dramatic effect. With her legs always moving, she is one of the best left side of the keys players I have seen. The low notes are where she lives. When she does venture over to the higher notes it really tends to stand out.

Playing mostly the songs from her new album, “Ghost Stories”, Kreviazuk also sprinkled in a few of her past hits. These were reworked, especially “Wayne”, to give them a new tempo and sound. On this small Ontario-only warm up tour (she will be hitting the rest of Canada in the new year), she is accompanied by a drummer, a vocalist/violin player, her husband on bass on certain numbers, and Greg Fox on vocals/guitar/cello. As she tends to often play alone with just the piano, it certainly is interesting to see her with a band. The small (the theatre had under 400 seats) intimate venue really was perfect for her type of music and really lent to the evening. The show really was a good preview of the upcoming tour (Spectrum – March 2, 2007) across Canada.

Setlists:
Raine Maida:
1) Spoken word number – the one about their nanny from the Congo
2) Careful What You Wish For
3) Sex Love Honey
4) Who Sold You Out
5) Earthless
6) Innocent
7) One Second Chance

Chantal Kreviazuk:
1) So Cold
2) In This Life
3) Ghosts of You
4) God Made Me
5) Spoke in Tongues
6) Wayne
7) Wonderful
8) Asylum
9) Time
10) All I Can Do
11) Blame Yourself
12) Jet Plane
13) Mad About You
14) Before You
Encore:
15) Feels Like Home
16) Waiting for the Sun
17) Surrounded

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