They clapped, they cheered and they stood. In between – Jann Arden actually sang a few songs …
Arden, on the heels of her latest album; ‘Everything Almost’ – took the stage at The Olympia in Montreal on a warm September evening. Warm outside and warm in people’s hearts.
Such was the vibration felt around the venue from the mostly over-forty female audience. Put it this way, not a lot of Zeppelin fans fist pumping on Ste. Catherine street. Why would there be …?
Arden is not that type of singer although she dressed like a Joan Jett wannabe to start. Leather was in fashion yet – as she stated in one of the evening’s many monologues; ” You knew what you were getting …”
Well Joan Jett was not it …
Simplicity and quality tunes is what the audience got. Oh – and humor. Was humor mentioned?
That’s what those in attendance received in a very cold ( temperature – wise) Olympia Theater. No ‘avant garden’ for Arden and her touring entourage. No biting heads off bats. Save for a few ‘Elvis – esque’ lighted images of Arden behind the band and smoke (which made Salt Peter on fire seem weak in comparison), basically a no frills show visually …
Musically – especially for an Arden fan; filled with frills.
Commencing with ‘Counting Mercies’ from the new album and heading back through the past ‘ not-so-darkly’ and ‘darkly’ – Jann Arden proved her voice was still atop the heap of female songstresses in Canada. Following fifty -two years of good times and bad , Arden ‘s catalog an open book on a now gilded sleeve …
‘Wishing That’ brought tears in the most simplest way. ‘Insensitive’ – creative ( necessarily?) due to the number of times the ‘ flagpole’ song has been performed over the years. ‘Live and in person’ – the tune seemed unimpressive as some songs do compared to the polished studio version. Insensitive appeared ‘insensitive’, rushed and void of soul. High expectations may have played a part in the letdown …
‘Hard to Be Alive’ was a Celtic high point with backing singer and front -woman in her own right – Allison Cornell, displaying more talent in a fiddle than most musicians display talent. Cornell – according to Arden; one of the most talented people on the planet complete with a horse farm. Then again, according to Arden, every member on stage were the most talented people on the planet. What else can she say? These guys suck ..?
One of those people - Keith Scott, known mainly as Bryan Adams’ guitar player – set the tone around the midway mark with a ‘very planned” Summer of 69‘ riff which laid a path for a sing-a-long. Dangerous territory since those three minutes displayed Arden’s only weakness. Not being diverse enough to write Rock / Pop tunes. The energy surrounding Adams’ tune higher than any musical moment in Arden’s own arsenal.
Therein lies the beauty of Jann Arden. Keenly aware of her inability to pump the crowd with her tunes – Arden relies on her own sense of humor (plus covers) and utilizes every moment vacant to display those wares. Whether waiting for a patron to go (and come back) from the washroom and / or inviting a drunken punter on stage for a ‘selfie’ moment – Arden mocks herself, the audience, her band members and everything in between.
These are the high energy moments of the show normally saved for rockin’ songs that groups such as Rush, The Guess Who and (insert Canadian band here) use in their concerts. All ballads for Jann (mostly) equals humor equals relative success. Easy …
Arden should place more time and effort into continuing her progressive career on a variety of songs and genres. If the humor is removed ( approx. thirty complete minutes), then Arden’s show in grave danger of a sleep-fest unless the audience members are holding hands, in love and / or afraid of Rock n Roll.
If part of the latter group – Jann Arden’s concert is the best (and funniest) show this side of Laugh-In.
Most of Jann’s fans will remember that show.
Younger ones don’t care and won’t show up …
You’re So Vain – Carly Simon Cover
Summer of 69 – Bryan Adams Cover
Hard to Be Alive
You Were Never Broken
You Love Me Back ( encore)
Happy ( Allison Cornell)