The first thing that crossed my mind when her backing band took the stage, the lights went on and the music began and that was that there is a little bit of Beyonce in every performer. I had to recheck my ticket to make sure that I was indeed at a Jann Arden concert. The lights were dark in the middle of the stage where Jann Arden was perched on the top of a small clear staircase. Jann Arden had a staircase on her stage?? Yes, indeed. Very dramatic and forced all you attention on the veteran Canadian singer/songwriter. It was a little odd, but it was the last out of place moment of the evening for this all-around entertainer.
When you attend a Jann Arden show you know you are guaranteed to get a few things – heartbreakingly sad songs, self-deprecating humour and some moments that you would not get from any other singer working today. I have probably seen Jan Arden live a half dozen times and she never disappoints.
This evening was one that is going to stick out in my mind not only because of her performance, but also because of the crowd. Each time Jann Arden takes the stage it is part music and part Jann telling funny stories. Her between song banter with her band or the audience is second to none. She is one funny lady. On this unusually warm late September evening the crowd was not about to let her think she was in this alone. From the very first time she spoke in between the second and third the crowd was more than willing to interact with her. One time towards the end of the show she waited for Jamie, who went off to the bathroom, before she started another song. Not many artists would do that. Even Jann herself pointed out that you would not get that at a Celine Dion show. But my favourite of the crowd interactions happened fairly early, just after she told security to stand down that she didn’t mind if audience members took photos or videos of her, a woman from the back of the crowd yelled that she had lost her camera and could not take photos. Jann then invited the a little bit drunk woman up on stage to have a photo taken with the singer from Alberta. Making us all crack up with her “You do know I’m in the middle of a show” comment when the woman wanted to engage in some chit chat with the engaging singer. A unique performer and it became a unique show.
At the age of 52-years-old Jann Arden still possesses the crystal clear and seemingly without effort voice she has always had. In an outfit of all black leather including a jacket, short skirt, knee-high boots and a wide belt, Jann looked like a rock star and was backed by a very talented 7-piece band. There was even a fog machine for God’s sake. Towards the beginning of the two hour show Jann stated that she would be taking us on a trip through her personal life and that it would make us feel much better about our own lives. Funny, but true. Slow tempo sad songs have been Jann Arden’s bread and butter throughout her career. Her fans love her for her honesty in her writing and her willingness to lay her life bare for us all to experience.
Jann Arden is a double threat being a great singer with a full catalogue created over her over 20 year career and a hysterical lady. You will want to weep due to the sadness of most of her songs and will be wiping away tears of laughter during her funny stories.
The evening kicked off with a female duo from Tennessee, Jill and Kate. The two blondes look and sound like sisters, but are just friends. Their particular brand of folk-pop is pleasant to listen to, but nothing too extraordinary. They sound like many other acts with nothing really that separates them from the crowd. Jill played acoustic guitar and Kate handled most of the banter in between songs. Very likeable (the Montreal crowd gave them several nice rounds of applause), but a little too vanilla ice cream (safe) for my liking.
1) Counting Mercies
2) Wishing That
3) Sorry For Myself
4) Medley: Living Under June/Could I Be Your Girl/Wonderdrug
6) Time For Mercy
7) You Forgot You Loved Me
8) Where No One Knows Me
9) Happy (original song sung by Allison Cornell)
10) Never Mind
11) Hard to Be Alive
12) You’re So Vain (Carly Simon cover)
13) The Glory of Love (Nina Simone cover)
14) Karolina (with Kristyn Osborn)
15) Will You Remember Me
17) Everything Almost
18) Good Mother
19) You Love Me Back
20) Wrecking Ball (Miley Cyrus cover)
21) You Were Never Broken