Live music galleries: Ottawa Bluesfest 2019, day four – James, Psychedelic Furs, Ashley MacIsaac

(Since I’ll be too busy attending Ottawa Bluesfest over the next week or so to continue with this blog’s regularly scheduled programming, I thought I would do a special ‘live galleries’ series this week to share some pics from some of the sets I am enjoying.)

James concert T-shirt

Artists: James, Psychedelic Furs, and Ashley MacIsaac
When: July 7th, 2019
Where: Lebreton Flats Park, Ottawa

James… in Ottawa!

Some words: When the lineup for this year’s festival was announced months ago, I had to blink and wipe my eyes and do a bunch of double takes: James?!? One of my favourite ever bands, James? Sure enough, it was them and not some other group or artist with the same moniker. Pass purchased.

Those of you who have been following along with these pages for a while will know that I’ve been a fan of the Manchester-based, hit-making alternative rock collective for a while and that they are also one of my wife, Victoria’s all-time favourites. The two of us drove to Montreal to see them in a small club back in 2008 (still one of our favourite ever shows) so the drive downtown from the suburbs was a much quicker trip. James is amazing live and yesterday’s afternoon set was just more proof of that. Their big sound is definitely conducive to the festival concept and frontman Tim Booth is just as engaging with the bigger crowds. Of course, at just an hour it was way too short but they still managed to fit quite a few classics in with their new material, rousing even non-fans with their only hit to cross over to North America: “Laid”. (And as evidenced above, I did buy a concert tee, the first I’ve owned in over a decade.)

Unfortunately, the line Victoria and I picked for food after James’s set was the wrong one. The meal when we finally received it was tasty enough but the purveyors were so disorganized, the close to one hour wait wasn’t worth it. This also meant we listened to almost half of The Psychedelic Furs‘ set from said queue and by the time we were done eating, we were never ever to get very close to the stage for all the young fans that were arriving early for The Killers. The Furs, who are currently touring North America with James, put on a good enough show, playing all their 80s hits and any other songs I would’ve wanted to hear. My wife didn’t think too much of them, though, and didn’t remember any of their stuff.

Afterwards, we navigated through the amassing crowds for a spot to watch the main stage headliners and Victoria wondered when The Killers got so big. We had seen them almost fifteen years before at a tiny club in Ottawa, just before they struck it big and while reminiscing about that, we realized that neither of us were tied to seeing them again. So we extricated ourselves from the masses and headed for the Bluesville stage to catch the side stage headline set by Ashley MacIsaac (yes, that Ashley MacIsaac). We found a seat on the bleachers and enjoyed some crazy celtic folk fusion by the award-winning Cape Breton born fiddler and percussionist Jay Andrews. It was quite the civilized way to end the evening.

Andy Diagram of James
Adrian Oxaal of James
David Baynton-Power of James
Mark Hunter of James
Saul Davies of James
Tim Booth in the crowd
Tim Butler and Amanda Kramer of The Psychedelic Furs
Rich Good and Mars Williams of The Psychedelic Furs
Richard Butler and Paul Gariston of The Psychedelic Furs
Ashley MacIsaac and Jay Andrews
Jay Andrews
Ashley MacIsaac

Live music galleries: Ottawa Bluesfest 2019, day three – Children of Indigo, The Beths, Pup, This is the Kit

(Since I’ll be too busy attending Ottawa Bluesfest over the next week or so to continue with this blog’s regularly scheduled programming, I thought I would do a special ‘live galleries’ series this week to share some pics from some of the sets I am enjoying.)

Entrance to Bluesfest

Artists: Children of Indigo, The Beths, Pup, and This is the Kit
When: July 6th, 2019
Where: Lebreton Flats Park, Ottawa
Some words: You might’ve noticed there wasn’t a post yesterday detailing Friday night’s exploits. There’s a good explanation. The original plan was to attend but when the main reason for going that night, Colter Wall, cancelled earlier in the day, I made the call to stay home, what with the dodgy weather, lack of sleep, early wake up hour the next day, and the country heavy musical content and expected crowds. By my count, that’s four cancellations for this year’s festival, bad luck in its twenty-fifth year. Here’s hoping the bad luck ends there and the rest of the festival runs smoothly.

When I arrived yesterday, nice and early, I still wasn’t expecting crowds in the entrance line so like Thursday night, the temporary barricade maze was more walking than I wanted to do in that heat. So after I entered, I once again headed inside to the Barney Danson theatre where a surprisingly large crowd had gathered to hear an early set by a lovely, local indie folk trio named Children of Indigo. Unlike Thursday, there was no overlap last night so I didn’t have to rush anywhere afterwards and actually got to enjoy some full sets.

Next up was the band I was most excited to see last night, an indie rock trio out of New Zealand called The Beths. If you haven’t heard them, check them out. To my ears, they sound quite a bit like Alvvays and Camera Obscura but with more fuzz. I’ve been listening to their album a lot in the lead up to last night but their performance was so good, it pushed me to pick up a copy of their record at the merch tent.

Just after dinner time, I headed over to the main stage to catch Toronto punk band Pup struggle to reconcile their counter-culture cred and such a huge outdoor audience. They shouldn’t have worried so much as their fans were just as pleased to mosh and pump their fists outdoors as in. I stayed out of the fray and enjoyed the energy from afar. I finished my evening early, back where I started, in the Barney Danson theatre, with British folk songstress Kate Stables, who might be better known under stage name, This is the kit. I had originally thought to stick around for The Turbans, the headliners on one of the side stages, but after drinking a few beers in the afternoon heat, my bed and AC were the stronger calls.

Natasha Pedersen and David Campbell of Children of Indigo
Mitchell Jackson of Children of Indigo
Tristan Deck of The Beths
Jonathan Pearce of The Beths
Benjamin Sinclair of The Beths
Elizabeth Stokes of The Beths
Steve Sladkowski of Pup
Zack Mykula and Nestor Chumak of Pup
Stefan Babcock of Pup
This is the Kit with The Texas Horns
Kate Stables aka This is the Kit

Live music galleries: Ottawa Bluesfest 2019, day one – Marie-clo, Abigail Lapell, Chvrches, U.S. girls, Alt-J

(Since I’ll be too busy attending Ottawa Bluesfest over the next week or so to continue with this blog’s regularly scheduled programming, I thought I would do a special ‘live galleries’ series this week to share some pics from some of the sets I am enjoying.)

May of Bluesfest 2019 grounds

Artists: Marie-clo, Abigail Lapell, Chvrches, U.S. girls, Alt-J
When: July 4th, 2019
Where: Lebreton Flats Park, Ottawa
Some words: By my count, it’s been four years since I last bought a full festival pass to Ottawa’s Bluesfest, mostly due to increasing difficulties in finding enough in the lineup to be excited about. This year, there were two (perhaps three) bands that I was really, really jived for (and multiple others that generated a good enough amount of interest) and one of them was scheduled to play last night. Unfortunately for me (and likely many others), they were forced to cancel all of their summer shows. This removed a horrible time slot conflict with the main stage headliners for a lot of people. But for me, I would have rather seen First Aid Kit and crossed them off the bucket list. Next time, I guess.

I stopped off for dinner and a couple beers at a local brewery before heading down to the festival, factoring in plenty of time to navigate the long lines that are usual on opening night as organizers figure out their processes. Imagine my surprise to find nary a line, which made walking the labyrinth of temporary barriers superfluous. Once past the gates, I refilled my water bottle and headed in to the museum where the festival always has an intimate stage set up inside the Barney Danson theatre. Yeah, I’m very thankful that with last night’s heat, my first two shows were scheduled inside. Sweet air conditioning.

Right at 6 o’oclock was a local-ish, indie pop bilingual vocalist that went by the stage name of Marie-clo and was backed by another local band, Mal/aimé. After that, things got a bit dicey with conflicts and time slot overlaps. I caught the first half of Toronto singer/songwriter Abigail Lapell’s excellent and intimate folkie set. Then, I slipped into the middle of Scottish indie dance pop trio, Chvrches’ well-attended and high energy set on the main stage. At some point around 8pm, I hightailed it to the Videotron stage to catch the end of my happiest surprises of the night: the insanity of Meghan Remy’s art pop laboratory, U.S. Girls. I finished the night back at the City stage where the crowds had amassed even more for Alt-J. And it was brilliant.

Marie-clo and Mal:aimé
Marie-clo
Abigail Lapell
Lauren Mayberry and Jonny Scott of Chvrches
Martin Doherty of Chvrches
Iain Cook of Chvrches
Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches
U.S. Girls
Meghan Remy aka U.S. girls
Alt-J
Thom Sonny Green of Alt-J
Gus Unger-Hamilton of Alt-J
Joe Newman of Alt-J