October 2, 1998: Great Big Kitchen Party in Cambridge, MA

My Great Big Day began with lugging my stereo equipment into work by subway, setting it up in an office with a window to get better radio reception, then taping and listening to the WUMB interview at noon. This was the first time that I'd ever heard an interview with them, and to listen to those NFLD accents, as if I wasn't excited enough about the sold-out-the-day-before show that I had tickets for that evening! :-) (I have transcribed the interview, and there are some Great Big Quotes that are keepers for sure!) It seemed like 5:00 would never arrive, but it eventually did and I rushed home to change and gather my things for the evening.

My husband, Bob, had decided to pass on seeing another Great Big Concert so soon after Mama Kin, but my friend Mike R. came down from Lewiston, ME to see the show. I had secured permission from HOB to photograph GBS's set, so Mike brought a real camera to shoot the photos without a flash and with a zoom lens (in contrast to me who used a Fuji disposable with flash at Mama Kin). We got to Harvard Square around 8:15, signed the release to take photos, then left for about 1/2 hour to run some errands. When we got back, we went upstairs into the music hall and waited with a few dozen people behind the rope for the "doors" to open. We watched the stage setup, and I made a point to see why Danny gets the "best legs" award. ;-) Then we presented our tickets and went right to the front, where I took the prime spot directly in front of Alan's mic stand, and Mike stood to my right between Alan and Seán where he could take some amazing photos. We stood around chatting with other folks up front, then a man walked up to me and said, "Are you Fran? I'm Tom." (My NFLD flag t-shirt is easy to spot!) I exclaimed, "Tom!!!" and gave him a handshake/hug since I was amazed that he and Donna found a way to go to the concert, as it had sold out. It really made my night to see them there! We chatted for a while, and unexpectedly at 9:45 (15 minutes early! Wahoo!), GBS took the stage to the sound of crashing waves, and began their set with "Donkey Riding" (and if you're like me you're singing, "Way hay and away we go, ..." right now).

On the WUMB interview, the b'ys had said that it would be a silly night because this was the last night of the tour, but be assured that their musicianship was as solid as ever. Overall, I thought that they seemed looser and more relaxed then when I saw them at Mama Kin, though still loaded with energy. The setlist (which I again nabbed at the end, heh heh) was: DONKEY, BILLY, ORDIN, GOIN, FAST, PADDY, CONS, END, GENER, BLACK, LUKEY, MARI, WHEN, EXCUR, AUNT, BLISTER. I can't try to describe every song in detail for fear of running out of adjectives, but there were many memorable moments. This time, the b'ys rarely paused to teach us "our part" - somehow they knew that we'd know what to sing. In "Mari Mac", Seán made sure by singing "Mari Mac's mother's making Mari Mac marry me," to which we perfectly responded "My mother's making me marry Mari Mac." Alan and Seán smiled approvingly and said, "Sounds like home." (Yes! We rock!)

At one point between songs, Alan surprised us by spontaneously breaking into a verse of George Michael's "You Gotta Have Faith", and IMHO blew away the original. ;-) I now pay more attention to his guitar technique because I just love the way he plays, and he broke at least one string that evening. "Fast As I Can" got me right in the heart, after hearing the WUMB interview and learning that it was about a relationship that ended soon after Alan wrote the song. It was a genuine pleasure to hear "Consequence Free" again, and Alan did not crack up on the "lose my Catholic conscience" part. Another lyric has become stuck permanently in my head: "Aunty Mary had a canary up the leg of her drawers, while she was sleeping I was creeping up the leg of her drawers." BLISTER was not just "Blister in the Sun", but instead a medley of it and The Police's "Da Doo Doo Da", The Door's "Break On Through", and Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side". No question, Bob can sure belt 'em out as well as his mates, so it's a treat to see him take a real lead besides his faux Victrola intro on "Greenspond". Then a little more than an hour after it began, the set was over.

There were many more special moments during the set for me. When Alan said, "We're Great Big Sea, from the tropical island of Newfoundland", I grabbed the front of my t-shirt on either side of the NFLD flag to lift it a wee bit higher (as if he could miss it, I was RIGHT THERE in front of him), and he gave me a thumbs-up and said, "In the house!" Mike can confirm that I didn't stand still during the entire set - I was dancing non-stop, even during the slow songs. (What a concept: Great Big Aerobics!) I couldn't help but notice that Alan sometimes posed a bit when Mike was taking his photo. And Alan announced that they would be back to play in the Boston area again, before Christmas! Looks like we'll get an early Christmas present this year, and I hope that it will be an 18+ show because I have a few under-21 friends who would love to see GBS live. :-)

I came prepared by printing a small batch of "business cards" to publicize the GBS Boston web site, and besides handing out some to people standing near us, we were able to give some to Alan and Seán onstage, then Darrell a little later. Alan was announcing the band's thanks to a bunch of people when I handed him one, and he again thanked all of us folks on the Internet *and* mentioned my web site! :-) As soon as the set ended, Alan handed Mike a pick, then Mike and I managed to grab three set lists (well if no one else was going to grab them, why waste them?) and I found another pick on the floor. I stopped by the Swag table to buy a burgundy cap and a blue sweatshirt (Made in Canada, wahoo!), and we decided to skip seeing Entrain because we had already had more than enough fun for one evening!

We were also each able to grab a Rant and Roar promo poster off the walls (as if we didn't have enough of a haul!), and headed outside in hopes of catching the b'ys at the Great Big Bus and getting our posters autographed. Our strategy paid off - we looked through the front window of the bus and spotted Darrell, and we waved to get his attention. He got off of the bus, and signed our posters and chatted for a tiny bit, then went back into the HOB. Then, the bus driver opened his window and told us that Alan would come back for a meet and greet in a few minutes. The bus pulled away, and sure enough, just minutes later, Alan and Bob came walking on by! Apparently they had some kind of meeting inside, and they didn't have time to say very much but they did stop and sign our posters, and Alan shook our hands and thanked us for coming out (Imagine - HE thanked US!). There was no time to get a photo taken with any of them or ask Alan for a hug or a slow dance, ;-) but of course I'm thrilled that we even got to meet the three of them. We did ask them out for a beer, and Alan looked us straight in the eye and said "Next time."

So here's to the next time!

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