Collective Soul, Shaq, and Cujo

A few things I’ve wanted to blog about in the last little while, but not the time to do it. Thusly, a long entry may ensue.

Shaq got traded- to Phoenix, for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks. Not a lot of NBA fans in blog-land (at least, for those who read mine), but he’s a big enough name to warrant some thought.

As it was thought that it would be impossible to trade him with his huge contract, and he’s really, really declined this year, the fact that Miami  fleeced the Suns on talent straight-up makes this a bit of a head scratcher. Any way you slice it- and I really want Phoenix to be successful, so I’m trying to be optimistic- this is a huge gamble for Phoenix. Watching Shaq play this year for Miami was painful at times, for someone who used to be physically dominant. Maybe a new address will give him some more motivation, but we’ll see. Miami did well to get out from under his contract, and get a great player like Marion, even if he was rumored to be a bit of a head case in the  Phoenix locker room.

The Flames played their new backup goalie, Cujo, and promptly left him out to dry against the Oilers earlier this week. No wonder Kipper never gets a night off- the rest of the team joins him (I seem to remember them laying an egg for Brian Boucher’s first start a couple of years ago, too). That had to be the worst game they’ve played all year.

Dion’s new contract: Probably too much money, but about what I expected it would take to sign him. 5 and $25 mil was dreaming.

So I finally saw Collective Soul live this week, one of my long stated goals, as evidenced in this prior entry. And they did not disappoint.

They were playing at Flames’ Central- a place neither Dennis (who graciously agreed to come with me) or I had been to. We parked at his work spot in the Palliser and walked a couple of blocks from there, to see a lineup extending to the end of 8th Avenue.

On the opposite side of the street AND the block when  we spotted the line, we both stopped for a moment. “Huh,” I muttered, in that I’m-too-stunned-to-really-say-anything-insightful sort of way they like to do on TV and Firefly.

It was twenty minutes to 8 at that point, and the doors opened at 8. We promptly joined the back of the line, and watched as others managed to back up the line around the corner all the way to where construction had partitioned off a sidewalk (forming a neat looking “blob” of people at the back)

A few drive-bys asked if there was a game tonight. One particularly memorable one had a confused look on her face when the man behind us mentioned it was a “Collective Soul” concert while her passenger nodded in understanding and approval.

Even when the doors did open, it was about twenty minutes before the line moved enough to get us inside. As I’d gotten standing room only tickets (the only ones left even a day after they’d started selling), I prepared for a long, sore night of standing.

Dennis and I took a brief walk around the venue, since we’d never been inside. We both agreed it was really nice, and would be a great place to watch a game, and that the one advantage of the standing tickets was that
 we’d be closer to the stage than a lot of the tables and chairs (the lone advantage, as we would later find out).

It was quarter to ten (!!) when the opening act, Jonas, finally took the stage. They were pretty high energy, and hard rock, though Dennis and I agreed after that the lead singer wasn’t much of one (a singer, that is). I enjoyed it, though they needed to vary the dynamics of their songs a little more, which is something they could have learned from the main act.

Younger folks cheered and pumped their arms, but the older set seemed to be confused and annoyed. Collective Soul brought a pretty wide range of ages out, and Jonas’ hard rock style appealed more to the younger set (dude standing next to me ended up buying their CD during the intermission).

Highlights from them included songs I would later find out were called “Daddy,” “Burn the House Down” and a surprisingly good cover of a Stevie Nicks song (I had to check my hearing when I heard the name of who they covered, given their style) titled “Edge of Seventeen“.

After a brief intermission (during which Dennis and I attempted to stretch, starting to feel the effects of standing for that long), CJAY 92’s Red Dog went to the stage to prep us for “Collective Soul, in a few minutes, brought to you by CJAY 92, Calgary’s best rock”, managing to spill some beer as he did. That was a highlight for me, not only that he brought his beer glass on stage, but that he managed to spill some.

When the lights dimmed, the crowd roared as one. There was no doubt as to who everyone was here to see.

The set list (I think): New Vibrations, Listen, December, Heavy, Forgiveness, Compliment, All That I Know, Crowded Head, I Don’t Need Anymore Friends, Gel, Why Pt. 2, The World That I Know, Better Now, and Hollywood.

For the encore, they did Precious Declaration, Run, and Shine. We don’t think they did a second one- I was convinced Shine would be the finisher. It was about quarter after midnight at that point, and we were starting to get sore from all the standing, so we beat the rush out.

Ed didn’t do a lot of  between song talking- and when he did, it was often drowned out by the din of noise from the crowd. He talked about wanting to play the new stuff and old stuff that people haven’t heard (which he accomplished), but I can’t recall much else. He’s a surprisingly short dude.

Highlights? Too many to name here. Being pleasantly surprised when I heard “Crowded Head” (being unable to ID it until we hit the chorus, which really addled me); hearing myself and the crowd sing louder than lead singer Ed Roland on “December”, “TWTIK”, “Better Now”, “Run”, and “Shine”; watching Ed almost carelessly toss the mic stand on stage, and hold it over the crowd for them to sing into during the aforementioned songs (and then tossing the guitar about ten feet into the air to a stagehand before “Shine”); Hearing Ed break into guitar parts from AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” and “TNT” during a bridge in “Hollywood”; Bassist Will Turpin coming on stage in one of the floppy-eared winter hats and sunglasses (and Ed donning a red-and-white toque and the same glasses for the encore).

It should also be noted that guitarist Dean Roland (not the guy who sang on the one song, Dennis, the other one) may have the least stage presence of anyone I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure he was aware of a crowd, which is either good or terrible.

And, strangely, being in a crowded mass of human bodies was a neat experience. Not one I would like to repeat often (as my aching back would  testify at the end of the night), but it was fun at times. Especially when the people singing (in tune, thankfully) would drown out Ed on the softer songs. It wasn’t when someone was trying to get into the closed-off area at the front and had to press me uncomfortably into people around me, or when the bouncers had to haul someone out during “Run” (and that wasn’t close to us… they were BIG bouncers).

And for CS fans, a surprise was the realization that the album they played the most tunes off was “Disciplined Breakdown”, and the new one, “Afterwords”. The new one didn’t surprise me (it’s what bands do on tours), but seeing that they did four songs off “Disciplined Breakdown” did, since I’ve always thought of  it as their weakest album (though the worst CS album is better than a lot of good stuff for other bands) . And I can’t really dispute any of  the choices, though “Forgiveness” probably got the lightest reaction of any they played.

Though we were both sore walking back to the car, we were both glad for the experience. Oh wait, I guess I need to do this:

Violations (go here for what the rules are): On the fence on #4, since Jonas didn’t play to some of the crowd (though given the mix that CS would bring, that’d be a tough call to get someone who would). That’s nitpicking, though… I enjoyed them.

Final Judgement: Great show, I really, really enjoyed it. Would not getting standing room only tickets again, but was very glad to have gone out, and glad that Dennis came with me. As I mentioned, Flames Central is a really posh, really nice place to see a show, and would be a good place to watch a game.

EDIT: Added “Why Pt. 2” to the setlist. Knew I’d miss one or two.

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