Thursday, May 17, 2012

Johnny Reid Fires Up London

I have to admit, I was not only entertained watching Johnny Reid last week at the John Labatt Centre...I was charmed. Maybe it doesn’t take a lot to charm me... maybe I’m a pushover for an adorable Scottish accent...perhaps the sly smiles and winks got to could have been those pink pants and shiny white shoes.  All I know is that I wasn’t the only one with googly eyes and a melting heart that evening. It was me...and several hundred senior citizens.  

I’m not sure that I’ve ever had much in common at all with the retirement set, but on this night, it seemed, age didn’t matter one bit as the young and the less than young swayed along in unison to familiar tunes like ‘Let’s Have a Party’, ‘Change the World’, ‘Fire it Up’ and ‘Let’s Go Higher’. 

If Reid was feeling at all fatigued from this 28 city whirlwind cross-Canada tour, he certainly wasn’t showing it this night. A bundle of energy right from the outset, he tested his endurance – and the quality of his security team – with a walk around the entire arena, venturing up into the stands where his adoring fans were waiting with outstretched arms to welcome him to London.  

It was the soft and slow ballads, though, that Reid is known best for, and that got hearts beating a little faster on this evening.  

One of my personal favourites has always been ‘Thank You”, a love ballad that has the inevitable effect of making you want to hug those closest to you and ... well... thank them. Seeing it performed live, in person, though made me hold my husband even tighter than usual...although I’m not sure if it was the song that caused that, or my instinct to protect him from the estrogen crazed women surrounding him, loudly shouting their love toward the stage. 

There were two highlights of the show that stood out above everything for me.  The first came early on thanks to a highly intoxicated elderly couple sitting next to the stage who decided that any and all open space around them was their private dance floor. Reid took little time pointing them out to the crowd, and his camera crew used them as comic relief throughout the evening, showcasing their unusual dancing style and complete oblivion to everyone and everything around them.  I’m not even sure they knew it was a live concert at times!  

The second stand out moment came late in the show during my other favourite Reid ballad, ‘Dance With Me’. By this point in the show, the crooner had made his way to a small stage located near the back of the floor, under the requisite spinning mirror ball (if only the couple at the front knew the REAL dance floor was to be at the back). As he sang, the camera projecting to the large screens around the arena was focused on Reid who was crouched down, clearly singing to someone in particular. My assumption at that point was that it was a 60+ female as they tended to be winning the jackpot of kisses and hugs on this night, but when Reid jumped down off the stage, cameras followed him to a lovely young woman singing along to this sappy sweet tune. My first instinct was ‘how sweet’.  My second thought was ‘why are those two guys behind her crying?’ I mean, I wanted him to dance with me too, but I wasn’t about to cry about it.  And then it hit me....I watched as Reid took the white cane from the young woman’s hands, placing it on the stage behind him, before wrapping his arms around her neck, and swaying like two high school teens at their first dance.  She couldn’t see him, but she knew how special this moment was.  Her tears, her companions’ tears, my tears....all of us knew how special this moment was.  

Reid may be a charmer, but at that moment it was clear that his charm was authentic and genuine...and an entire arena was more in love with him than ever. 

Reid’s show was rounded out by an incredibly brave opening set from Carolyn Dawn Johnson who held the entire JLC captive with a guitar, a microphone and a strong, soulful voice. Hard to believe that Reid used to open for her in his early days, but it’s certainly nice to see him sharing his success with her now. 

There was also a lovely, albeit short, performance from a couple new to the mainstream Canadian music scene, The Stellas. Their one song set left me wanting to hear more from this talented duo, but I guess in a way that was a good thing because theirs was the first name I typed into YouTube when I got home that evening. Count me among their newest fans. 

I left the John Labatt Centre that night knowing that I had been charmed by the best, and loving every minute of it, right down to Reid’s parting words:

May the sun shine on your shoulders
May luck and love be your friends
For now, always, forever; ‘til we meet again