Saturday, 30 March 2013

Carrie Underwood in Kingston

Concert Review and Photography by Greg Kieszkowski on behalf of Pie Magazine
web:   |   twitter:  gregk72

       Tonight was Carrie Underwood's first ever appearance in Kingston, Ontario, and she not only managed to blow through town, but held it ransom and spellbound.  The Blown Away Tour arrived with much glitter and fanfare. It was perhaps the most extravagant and glamorous event to be held in the historic city of Kingston and it is perhaps a great sign for things to come. 

The crowd was mostly female, and more often than not teens and their gracious chaperones.  I overheard one daughter tease her father that he only volunteered for the show because Carrie Underwood has such great legs.  I was unable to remain to see the debate continue or resolve itself.

It goes without saying that the girls wore titillatingly colourful Cowboy hats, and elegantly matching Cowboy boots, which were often morphed into stylish pairs of jeans.  The odd Cowboy could also be seen mingling and singing along and the thousands of fans who packed the K Rock Centre celebrated their idol all night long.  They sang every note and knew word, while dancing the night away. 

  There was tremendous anticipatory excitement which was built up by the soulful and energetic performance of Hunter Hayes. He performed a wonderful set and as a young teenage heart throb himself, was rightly the best choice to support Carrie Underwood on this tour.

It took only a few seconds for the crowd to explode with excitement when the curtain hiding the full stage finally dropped to the ground. There was a particular moment of delight when the curtain twisted in the air and for a brief moment formed a silhouette of an Angel.  It was a sign and a testament to the countless unsung workers who tirelessly contributed to this spectacular tour. 

After several hit songs, Carrie Underwood took the time to welcome her fans and told them that she had come a long way from trying to survive on American Idol. Her goal was to write and record an album that she could be proud of, and yet here she is eight years later having released her fourth recording.  She was gracious and grateful for being able to live her dream. “It wouldn’t mean nearly as much, traveling around, or playing in cool places like this, and meeting awesome people like you, if we couldn’t help out along the way”.  Carrie Underwood informed the sold out audience that a dollar from every ticket was donated to the Canadian Red Cross.  She has done this from the very beginning of the Blown Away Tour, and this is a great testament to her longevity and bright future in the music industry.

Carrie Underwood delighted the crowd with three wardrobe changes and each was special and unique in its own way.  Being granted only the first two songs, I managed only to capture her first glamorous phase.  Her best look however, was the relaxed Daisy Duke shorts, a Willie Nelson T-Shirt, and cowboy boots.  It was her best look because as she stepped on a magical diamond in the front of the stage, she and her band were lifted up above the audience and played several songs while floating from one end of the arena to the other.  She continued to entertain, sing and dance to the delight of thousands of energetically waving hands.  Suspended above the audience, Carrie Underwood told her fans that she feels all of their great energy while singing every night but on this tour she wished to be even closer to them. 

     On a personal note, I found it fascinating how seamless and how amazingly quickly this little floating raft was assembled and taken down. I fully understand why as photographers we were asked to shoot from a hundred feet away and were not granted the customary access to the pit. In a post 911 world, this undertaking was complex enough without the worry about the actions of some seemingly crazed, seductively tall, and strikingly good looking stranger, if I may so so myself. 

Carrie Underwood performed a high energy show but managed to save the most energy for the end of the show, but did not come out for an encore.  The show ran smoothly and ended at approximately 10:30 pm.  He duet with Brad Paisley, although it was virtual collaboration, drew an amazing reaction from the crowd, as did the live duet with Hunter Hayes.  Guitar-less, yet surrounded by several guitars, he proceeded to entertain the crowd with a very solid solo on an air guitar.  

With a powerful voice, an amazing stage presence and a spectacular visual presentation, Carrie Underwood came and went.  She came, she saw... and they were Blown Away.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Humbug - A Tale of Morality

HUMBUG - A Tale of Morality
Written by Kirsten Garbutt

 This past December saw another cutting edge Pie Media Group presentation: Humbug - A Tale Of Morality. This fashion theater event was the culmination of arts and culture, creativity and functionality, fashion and the business surrounding it.

Our Editor and Chief, Sandra Roberts brought together a select lineup of stylish designers, local talent and amazing performers. Held at The Mady Center for the Performing arts, PIE's twist on the classic Charles Dickens story kept the audience on the edge of their seats. Breath taking fashion, georgeous models and one of a kind performances by Roxi Dlite and Yammel Carmel left the crowd wanting more.

"We are taking a forward-thinking approach to the fashion society and are introducing ways to best showcase the Nations and international designers high fashion designs." - Sandra Roberts

Model installations, fascinating exhibits, and avant-garde hair and make up created a high fashion theatre show in Simcoe countys newest performance center. Attendees were offered a surprising and unique way to absorb the evening. Video screens showcased the behind the scenes making of the show while offering fashion lovers a digital front row seat.


"Pie Media Group serves as the connection linking these communities together to best represent the culture of the Canadian fashion arts industry." - Sandra Roberts

 All proceeds from this event and silent auction were donated to SICK KIDS Hospital.

'On behalf of SickKids Foundation, I would like to thank PIE Media Group for believing in SickKids. By generously donating from your events managed by PIE Media Group you are allowing us the opportunity to give our patients healthier lives and our families’ brighter futures.' - Corporate Sponsor Director, Sick Kids Hospital


A very special thank you goes out to our event sponsors:
Laser Health Works, Bar-Con Development, Huronia Oral Surgery Group, Moksha Yoga, The Beauty Supply Outlet,  and Melchior Management.






Saturday, 2 February 2013

Tragically Hip in Kingston

The escape is at hand for the travelling man, as the Tragically Hip arrive home to a warm homecoming in Kingston, Ontario. They played to a sold out K-Rock Centre, to an audience full of energy and gumption, and created a truly remarkable evening.

Their stage, by today’s standards, could be described as simple.  It was clean and well lit, with a myriad of colours, allowing the music to be the central focus.  A series of panels hung behind the band illuminating at different times in different colours, changing the mood of each song.  During We Want to Be It, little yellow drips gently rained down as the band sang “drip, drip, drip…”  What was perhaps the most important feature was the big screens and several cameras in the pit that provided a live feed to the audience.  This allowed everyone, far and wide, to get closer and see Gord Downie - the performer.
Gord Downie is a modern day musical Charlie Chaplin.  His suit and hat even resembles the iconic clothing of the once larger than life comedian, long forgotten now in a 3D, high-res, HDMI universe.  It seems that Gord Downie embraces the role every evening, and this was no exception.  He swam to shore during New Orleans is Sinking and he paddled along in his canoe through the frozen food section onPoets.  He went duck hunting during My Music at Work, and proceeded to box with the microphone throughout the night.  Some time later, he charmed the microphone back to life, like an ancient Hindu snake handler, while the crowd loved every single moment of it. 
At the beginning of Courage he was stunned.  He paused as though he discovered that there was an audience that suddenly appeared before him for the very first time.  He cried “Ha. Where did you come from?”  He also didn’t seem to like the colours he saw in the distance because he proceeded to paint them with his microphone, dipping it time and time again into his imaginary magical paint can. Near the end of the Courage he tried desperately to get the audience to be quiet so they wouldn’t frighten “him”.  He insisted that “he” really needed courage but it was not to be.  “F*ck!  He’s gone to Brockville.  You know how hard it was to get him here.  Thank you.”
The treat of the night was the duet and special stage appearance of Sarah Harmer.  She accompanied the Hip sang on The Lookaheadand Now For Plan A.  (If you haven’t seen the Mariachi video for The Lookahead, you are missing a great cinematic experience).  What was most striking about this evening was the genuine warmth Canadian musicians hold for each other.  It was very special to behold.  The Tragically Hip, the Arkells and Sarah Harmer seemed like kindred spirits or members of one large musical family.
The show ended the way it began; with much applause, sing-a-long, and perhaps a few pints of beer.  We learned that Paul Langlois used to drive a cab in Kingston, but was not the inspiration for Locked in the Trunk of a Car.  If the audience had it their way they would locked the HIP away for the night but that was not to be.  All good things must all come to pass, and the music lovers who enjoying this freezing February night, shuffled away, and returned to their homes.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Blue Rodeo - 25th Anniversary Tour


The twenty fifth anniversary of the release of Outskirts brought Blue Rodeo to a sold out Oshawa crowd at the General Motors Centre.  It was an evening of retrospection and a double set musing over three centuries of music 
The first big roar of the night was to the opening beat of What Am I Doing Here?  There was a great chuckle in the audience as Greg Keelor remarked that the song was written about one of the worst gigs that the band ever played.  He recalled that they “were the headline act of what seemed like the battle of High School bands.”
Although this was a sold out performance there were many empty seats.  Only after a few songs did the audience fill out.  Jim Cuddy welcomed the crowd.  “It’s Saturday night inOshawa.  I see they serve beer here.  So beer was more important than the first couple songs?  It’s alright.”
This anniversary tour is very simple.  Having walked the whole venue, there was no sign of any merchandise for sale.  This truly was a night of music and retrospection.  Blue Rodeo came to entertain their fans and thank them for twenty five years of memories and support.
As a band they have grown over the years.  On this particular evening they were a septet:  drums, piano/organ, steel guitar, lead guitar, bass, and two lyrical and melodic lead singers.  This is oversimplifying things, but as a whole Blue Rodeo played with great chemistry, energy, and exuded great joy.
The stage was beautifully lit.  The design was simple and colourful, giving just enough warmth to the industrial cold steel and concrete that we were surrounded by.  I am sure that the intoxicating herb waffling from in front of me did its part to properly warm the hearts and minds of the happy Oshawa crowd.
At the end of the first set which was followed what must have been a celebratory twenty minute intermission, the band decided to surprise Colin Cripps (lead guitarist) with a birthday cake.  He blew out the candles and was serenaded by the crowd with a warm Happy Birthday.
The second set was a quiet affair.  The band unplugged their instruments to treat the crowd to an acoustic set.  They sat together at the front of the stage and performed some new songs from their forthcoming album this fall.  The new songs were well received by the audience. 
There were two highlights of the acoustic set.  The first was the song One Light Left in Heaven.  It was simple, melodic, and tearful.  Jim Cuddy’s voice pierced and boomed throughout the venue.  The second highlight was the acoustic rendition by Greg Keelor of Dark Angel.  It provided a perfect balance and showed why Blue Rodeo continues to echo our Canadian consciousness.
The band ended their acoustic set and led the crowed with some favourites and sing-a-longs.  They were joined on stage by Wayne Petti from Cuff the Duke.  After the first song, Jim Cuddy humorously asked for some distance between Wayne and Greg, as they were becoming a distraction through their closeness.
There was a great Oshawa Choir in the sold out arena, but it took a few encouraging words from Greg Keelor to get there.  He told the audience that they needed to “make their head ring like a bell, and make their genital sing.” 
Lost Together was the closing number in the first encore and it left everyone satisfied and happy.  I am sure the beer and organic air had something to do with it as well, but all credit must be given to Blue Rodeo.  The second encore was an acoustic performance by Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor.  It showed their great friendship and partnership.  It hinted of things to come.