For that reason, I always try to plan something for that day to take my mind off the fact that all the happy couples of the world are all making googly eyes at each other and being all lovey-dovey.
This year, when news broke that Blue Rodeo was playing Scotiabank Place on V-day, I quickly rallied the troops and snapped up floor seats in the pre-sale. I've been a fan of BR for a long time, but had never seen them live, and I thought, what better time to check them out?
Turns out, it was a very, VERY good plan! I didn't even care that the place was filled with hand-holding couples (and many of them middle-aged). I completely blocked them out; totally ignored them.
One of the best parts of the whole night happened before Blue Rodeo even took the stage. Their opening band, The Dustin Bentall Outfit, a folky-rock-country group from Vancouver, were amazing. I was so completely impressed - it is one of my greatest joys to discover new music, and it's even better when it's Canadian. Dustin is the son of legendary Canadian singer/songwriter Barney Bentall (didn't know that til I Googled him this morning!), and as far as I can tell, it won't be long before he's taking the Canadian music scene by storm himself. Their set was such a pleasant surprise, with my personal favourites being "Emmy-Lou" and "Such a Shame". We made sure to stop by Gate 1 to pick up their CDs (Street With No Lights and Six Shooter), as well as the CD of their guest fiddle player and vocalist, Kendle Carson (Alright Dynamite), who's song "Baby Lie Down" was beautiful.
(PS - Yeah. Dustin's hot.)
Already, the night was going well, so there was no way Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor could let me down. Thankfully, I had studied up on their new 2-disc album, All the Things We Left Behind, so I was prepared for the new material, of which much of their set was made up. Highlights for me were "Never Look Back", "One More Night", "One Light Left in Heaven", "All the Things We Left Behind", "Candice", and the hauntingly beautiful "Gossip". Surrounded by people who looked like they were old enough to be our parents, you would expect that it would be a fairly tame, polite crowd - which, for the most part, it was - however, it was after "Gossip" that this tall man with greying hair in the row in front of us shouted, "Play something more lively!" Had he not just heard the beauty of the music; the sad and bittersweet lyrics? I literally wanted to slap him (but I refrained from doing so...)
I heard several people on the way out grumbling that they didn't play enough older songs, but as far as I was concerned, they played almost all of the fan favourites, including "Cynthia", "Heart Like Mine", "Head Over Heels", "Rain On Me", "Rose-Coloured Glasses" and "Trust Yourself". Of course, it wouldn't be a Blue Rodeo show without "5 Days in May", and it was absolutely epic .
It wasn't until they played "Hasn't Hit Me Yet" (right near the end of their set) that the crowd finally came to their feet, singing loudly when Greg Keelor turned the mic out to the fans and let us sing the first verse and chorus entirely on our own. They closed things out with another fan favourite (but certainly not my favourite), "Diamond Mine".
The encore was unbelievable. "Til I'm Myself Again" kicked it off, keeping the crowd on its feet and dancing in our seats. I was positively thrilled when Cuddy swung into "Try" next - the very first BR song I fell in love with, and still my favourite to this day.
And what better way to end the show than with "Lost Together"? BR invited Dustin Bentall and his Outfit back on-stage to join them, and it was amazing. So many voices, so many guitars... Keelor began the song, as usual, but then gave way to Dustin for the second verse, and band member and vocalist Wayne Petti performed the third. It was then that I realized I wished the song could go on forever.
What an awesome live band; what an awesome show. I've always been a Cuddy fan - (that seems to be a game BR fans play - which camp are you in? Cuddy or Keelor?) - but I came away from the show with a deeper appreciation for Greg Keelor as well, especially when the two unique voices harmonize. It's enough to send shivers up and down your spine, it's so perfect.
There was only one thing that could make this magical Canadian night even more wonderful - and that was news out of Vancouver where the 2010 Winter Olympics are currently underway that Canadian Alexandre Bilodeau had won us our first gold medal on home soil in the Men's moguls.
It was a golden night, indeed.