Everytime I have gone to see Chantal Kreviazuk play live it is like I am refilling my appreciation about everything that is good about music tank. As an artist she possesses a great voice, a deft touch on the piano, writes great hooks and involving lyrics, and, like a good actor, has the ability to convey honestly the emotions involved in her songs. Her gun belt is loaded with ammunition. As a human being she is, and this is the best way I can put it, real. You know (or will shortly) how she is feeling on any particular day, will find out what she thinks on a myriad of subjects, and will even find out nuggets about her personal life due to the in-between song banter she often engages in.
Chantal Kreviazuk is a talented singer/songwriter – the complete package and an engaging human being to boot. She is not content with only writing, recording and playing shows; she also uses her fame and influence to explore the world around her and try to make it a better place for everyone. Throughout her career she has been involved with organizations like War Child and the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children. She has gone to Africa and Iraq to see for herself the suffering that goes on in those places. Then she has come back and used her fame to bring awareness or play benefit concerts on their behalf. Intelligence, humanity, humour, true emotion, eloquence, and the balls to say what she feels is what you get with this women. And she brings all that to her shows.
On this record breaking rainy weekend in Toronto, she was playing the intimate confines of The Empire Theatre in Belleville, Ontario (2 hours east of Toronto). A pattern during her 15 year career (I can’t believe it has been that long!) has been to play intimate concerts in small venues throughout Ontario (she and her husband, Raine Maida of Our Lady Peace, live in Toronto) before she releases an album. Well, thankfully she has started recording music for her next studio album – this despite the fact that she just gave birth to her third child a mere 9 months ago. The format is usually just her and her piano along with plenty of music and chatting. This is the best way to see this artist as she doesn’t feel the pressure of keeping the show moving as she does when she tours with a full band. You are guaranteed to hear what is on Chantal’s mind on nights like this.
And chat she did during her 75 minute set where she would play one song and then engage the audience with her marvellous ability to tell a story. It started just after her opener, “Leaving on a Jet Plane”, where she asked some people on the right side of the front row if they could see her (due to the grand piano). When they indicated that their sight was blocked she set about trying to fix that. Between raising her piano bench and then finding empty seats to move them into, Chantal showed everyone there that she cares about the people who come to her shows and that she was not there just to sing songs, but build relationships.
Building relationships is what she is all about. Her songs let you know what she feels (she loves her husband and has had a life that has been marked by death) and her chatter gave you an insight into the harried life of a woman trying to maintain her career as a singer and be a mother to three young boys under the age of 5. Every moment in her life is precious and that translates into every moment on stage being important to her.
In-between discussing how her kids occasionally (and not in the right instances) sounded like her, her mother being upset for months when Chantal told her she is too busy to look at trivial e-mail forwards, the fact that she was feeling a little stoned from the Claritin she was taking, and how she and her husband got really close to a 12-year-old girl named Meena who had inoperable brain cancer, Chantal used her large, warm and acrobatic voice to win over everyone in attendance. It has to be mentioned that the sound at The Empire Theatre was wonderful. This type of acoustics really allowed the listener to be engaged in the music being presented to them. Rarely will you ever get anything but everything she’s got from Chantal and on this evening we got all that and a bag of chips.
Opening act Kevin Fox reminded the attentive and quiet audience how beautiful an instrument the cello is. While he does not have the “it” factor that Chantal does that would separate him from a ton of other artists, he is a talented instrumentalist and arranger. His understated 20 minute set, that included songs like a cover of the Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams”, “In the Eyes of You”, and Joni Mitchell’s “River”, was the perfect warm up for Chantal’s larger-than-life voice and engaging personality.
It all equalled a beautiful night of music with the only complaint I can muster is that it was a little too short for my tastes.
Chantal Kreviazuk’s Set List:
1) Leaving on a Jet Plane
3) In This Life
5) Today (new material)
6) Half of Me (new material)
9) Mad About You
10) The Way (new material)
11) Feels Like Home
12) All I Can Do