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Bill & Joel Plaskett @ Vogue Theatre – April 1st 2017

This was a night I’d expected to be pretty mellow – seated theatre show, an East Coast boy and his dad playing some folky tunes… And much of the evening was like this, but towards the end, it indeed got pretty raucous in the room. Hearts were light and some funny tales were told. These two clearly get along well and have lots of mutual respect for one another’s talent. Joel told a story about being down the street during the La De Da tour, after getting a call to open for country singer Keith Urban last minute. “I think I sold one CD that night…”
Joel has a penchant for rambling storytelling that is humourous and charming, and his father seems to be no different. Though Joel was the one who regaled most of the evening’s tales, Bill got in on the action a few times as well. They played a selection of songs – some, each of their own, some they wrote together, and some traditional folk and British tunes as well. Joel’s normally fast-paced toe-tappy songs like “Nowhere With You” took on an almost sombre tone under this folksy light. The theatre was packed, evidently with a huge contingent of displaced Maritimers, judging by the roars that undulated through the room any time they mentioned something about the area, like talking about writing songs at the Subway restaurant in Halifax on Argyle Street. Sometime late in the set, Bill and the band left, leaving Joel alone on stage. He may have almost regretted this after but he asked for requests, only to be met with an utter cacophony of song titles shouted at him so intently that he couldn’t discern anything out of the muddled sound. “Whoa, I don’t think I heard a single one, they were all so crazy sounding… this is like a crazy dream,” he chuckled, taken aback. “‘Fashionable People’ doesn’t really work on acoustic guitar, but we’ll make it work,” he said, having finally heard one of the titles being shouted to him. He went on to sing the high-pitched parts that are normally sung by females, then urging the audience to sing as high as he was. Pretty sweet. In the middle of the song, he started telling a story about how that song takes place in his head in 1989 or ’90, and how really, he wanted to get Tone Loc to do some of the vocal bits, which he then demonstrated by singing super low. Hilarious.
Another fun point – both of these guys great with the lightly-self-deprecating humour – was when both Plasketts picked up acoustic guitars and stood silent for a moment tuning them. Ba-ba-ba-bababa came the noises from the two of them. The room was pin-drop silent. Joel spoke up. “This is a song we cut from the record. It just would have made it too long. It’s called “Tuning Tuning Tuning.” But we put it in the live show a lot.” Joel also introduced an old folk song his dad was about to take lead on. “This is a song my dad used to sing when he was a young man back in Lunenburg.” His dad looked up and continued the story. “This is a song from the 1860’s…” Joel responded to the low chuckle over the crowd, as his dad had just made it sound like he was playing the song in the 1860’s. “Wow dad, you really are old!”
Nearer the end of the night, Joel finally asked people to stand up, and the audience took the invitation to heart. Suddenly enthusiastic fans were spilling down the aisles to kick up a proper kitchen party style dance session at the foot of the stage. The energy increased a million times then. There was a short encore as well, part of which Joel spent playing the drums, and the whole band finished the show to resounding cheers with a hearty bow.

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