Hard to believe we’re four days into RBC Bluesfest already. Day four was a busy day for me, starting things off with an interview with High Valley and it was capped off by an incredible performance by Pink.
Very rarely am I compelled to write immediately after a show, especially not on a work night. But there was a certain magic about day 4 of Ottawa Bluesfest that I needed to get my thoughts down while they were fresh in my mind.
Day 4 started very early for me, first time I’ve ever been onsite before the gates opened to the public. I had the pleasure of chatting with Brad and Curtis of High Valley before their show. Watch for the full interview in a week or so. But in the meantime checkout our Facebook page for a short Live video we did with the duo.
After the interview and once gates were open I made my way to Bluesville for lunch. While there I took in a powerful performance by Ottawa’s own Twin Flames. It didn’t take long to see why this duo won the Canadian Folk Music Award for aboriginal songwriters in 2016. I went from having lunch to having a great time listening to an incredible band.
After lunch with Twin Flame I made my rounds of the upper bowl for Sparklesaurus and Trevor Alguire before heading back to Bluesville for the amazing Bella Cat.
Bella Cat is an incredible performer. The last time I saw her I only caught the end of her set but on Sunday I was determined to take in as much as possible. Her energy mixed with her powerful vocals make for a show that you can’t help but stop and watch. Take my word for it, if you’re looking for a great show and see Bella Cat listed at a venue near you do yourself a favour and go check It out. I promise you won’t regret it.
At 5pm it was back up to the City Stage for Rebecca Noelle. Noelle was brought to my attention by former colleague and member of the Peptides, Dale Waterman. Dale and I worked together during Dell Canadas brief existence in Ottawa and he had mentioned that he would be performing with Rebecca at Sunday afternoon’s show. Always one to support a friend Noelle’s set was immediately bumped back up to the top of my list.
First thing that I loved about Noelle was her incredible sense of humour. She had barely been on stage for a few minutes and had the audience (and her own band) in stitches. The second thing that I loved about her was her vocals, this girl can sing. I watched he set as long as I could before heading back to Bluesville for an act I had been anticipating since day 1, Vanessa Collier.
Vanessa Collier is an incredible performer singer and one of the best saxophonists I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching perform. Ok I might be a tad biased because the tenor sax is my instrument of choice. Watching Vanessa tame that sax and even go head to head with her guitar player made my itch to get back in the game. I left briefly to go and checkout JohnnySwim and by the time I returned Vanessa had packed the tent at Bluesville.
A steady rain had started falling so I figured I’d just hangout under the tent and listen to Slam Allen, thanks to the recommendation by one of the festival photographers. Anyone that complains that there isn’t any blues at RBC Bluesfest needs to listen to Slam Allen sometime. It doesn’t get much better than that, and man oh man can he play guitar.
At about 7:30 it was time for me to switch into volunteer mode for the rest of the night, so after a quick change and a trip up to volunteer island for supplies and I was back inside the venue in time for an incredible performance by High Valley.
By the time High Valley took to the Claridge Homes Stage the rain had stopped and the skies had cleared which set the scene for one of the best performances I’ve ever seen out of High Valley. They were playing to a massive crowd, likely with some help from Pink (whose fans were staking their front row seats almost right after the doors opened shortly after 2pm.) I think it’s safe to say many in the audience may not have been familiar with High Valley before they’re performance but, based on the audience reaction that I witnessed in my rounds, not only was everyone familiar with the duo I’m certain the gained a number of new fans as well.
As High Valley wrapped up their set and we all eagerly awaited Pink I noticed some decent sized cloud towers building in the distance. The air had also cooled and felt less humid all of a sudden, usually all indicators that something was brewing. But as the sun set and Pink took to the stage it looked like we were clear of stormy weather.
It was an incredible start with all the pizazz you’d expect from a pop star. Rolling through hit after hit the energy at Lebreton Flats was electric. One of the biggest surprises of the night was when Pink, to the crowd’s delight, invited Dallas Green of City and Colour and ALEXISONFIRE to join her on stage.
Shortly after her performance of “Give Me A Reason” there was a flash of lightning behind the stage, it was prominent enough you could hear an audible gasp out of the crowd, the lightning was followed quickly by a clap of thunder that was mostly drowned out by the speakers. And that’s when it hit, rain like I’ve never seen in years at Bluesfest. But something incredible happened, the show didn’t end.
Pink along with her guitar player walked out to the end of the catwalk and sat there, in the driving rain and continued the show as if nothing happened. It was amazing, incredible and fantastic all rolled into one and the audience, for the most part, didn’t go too far either.
The rain eventually subsided which set the stage for one of the most explosive finales I’ve witnessed at a concert in years. Pink came out strapped into a harness and flew up high over the stage as pillars of steam shot up from the front of the stage as she sang “So What”. She flew out over the audience doing acrobatic moves you’d normally only see from Cirque du Soleil. But it didn’t end there, once her feet were firmly planted on the ground she capped off the show with “Just Like Fire” which added pillars of flame into the mix. As the last note sounded fireworks were set off from the top of the stage.
4 days in and to date no other night has come close to putting on a show like Sunday night delivered and, I think, the bands in the 6 days that lie ahead have their work seriously cut out for them.
Tonight is a night off for Bluesfest but the party resumes on Tuesday as Carolyn Wonderland, July Talk and Jake Owen kick off week 2. As always for full lineup information and showtimes visit www.ottawabluesfest.ca