Reviews

iHeartRadio Beach Ball @ PNE Amphitheatre – September 3rd-4th 2017

Liam Payne of One Direction at iHeartRadio Beach Ball @ PNE Amphitheatre - September 3rd 2017

Full galleries of Day 1 and Day 2

The inaugural iHeartRadio Beach Ball took over the amphitheatre during the last two days of the Pacific National Exhibition, aka the PNE.

The event brought out a bevy of music stars that delighted the crowds under the glare of the late summer sun.

Both days were basically musically divided; day one brought the new comers of the pop world and day two was headlined by the more established veterans. This division made for an obvious separation in the types of patrons to partake per day, with day one filled with eager young pop fans and day two feeling a little more grown up.

Day One

With the blistering sun overhead, shade was a must. We found our spot up on the bleachers and waited for the music to start.

Toronto’s Ralph brought her swinging, dancey vibes to the stage to kick things off. The audience responded well and a small contingent at the front row started to dance in support of the singer.

The venue was nowhere near capacity to start but the hordes kept trickling in. The grounds were always a flutter with movement.

Another Torontonian took over the stage next, Virginia To Vegas lead by singer and songwriter Derik Baker delivered a playful set. He filled the air with electronic grooves and a serene but captivating vocal set.

Shawn Hook was third up. The Nelson, BC native sat behind his white piano and brought energy to the day. More attendees were brought to their feet and started shaking a bit of that mid-day, sunbaked rust from their backs. Now we had a dance party.

With everyone revved up, New Zealand popstar, Lorde, graced the platform for her first-ever Vancouver appearance. Her set was intense. She darted back and forth with a whimsical fluidity as she swooned those in attendance with her unique vocals. She took a moment midset to ensure she was well hydrated, with a big sip of her blue Slurpee.

We managed to score her setlist after her set. Lorde was completely wonderful. Now we are even more excited for her return to Vancouver in March of 2018.

Scott Helman, yet another Toronto-based musician, followed. His delivery was more intense and seemed more widely palatable. He, much like Lorde, was all over the stage. Using the power of his music to feed his performance and stirring up the throng of music lovers before him.

Things kept chugging along and The Strumbellas, out of Lindsay, Ontario, grabbed the reigns. The multi-instrumental, genre-melding group were just plain fun. They were all having a great time and were passing that along.

There was a little wait between acts and then Liam Payne of One Direction fame came out to perform two songs. Many super fans in the audience were in hysterics to see him. They just kept screaming his name. A few were even in tears. When he left the stage after his 10-minute set, there were a lot of upset faces as I looked around. Some of those around me exclaimed they had arrived at the venue the moment it opened and waited all day, just for this fleeting glimpse of their favourite star.

The sun was now gone. Alessia Cara came out and performed the best set of the night. She is still a rising star and working hard to cement her name. Her humble attitude, intriguing vocals, and aesthetically pleasing performance place her among the top tier of pop performers today. She is a breath of fresh air.

Day Two

It was still hot on the second day but not nearly as hot as day one.

I worked down to the stage and caught Edmonton’s Ruth B start the day off, for me. Her runaway hit “Lost Boy” is everywhere right now. I was impressed with how closely her live vocals sounded to her recorded vocals. She has such a silky-smooth voice. The audience was enthralled by her set and sang along to most of her songs.

Next up, we had Canadian group The Philosopher Kings. The band was solid but it was lead singer Gerald Eaton that stole the show. His passionate vocals and eradicate movements are hypnotizing. You just can’t look away while he works around that stage. When the band rolled into their famed song “Cry” the entire venue song along with them. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

We were then graced by the legendary Blondie. Debbie Harry and co. stepped out on the platform and put on a great set. Harry was in great form, smiling and laughing throughout the set. She danced while she belted out all the hits you would want to hear, my favourites being “One Way Or Another” and “Heart Of Glass”.

Closing out the night was San Francisco pop rock outfit Train. Lead singer Patrick Monahan walked out on stage with a cast on his right arm but that didn’t stop him from delivering a solid, pop-filled set. The entire band was on the ball and their interplay with one another added a great element to the performance. Monahan was humble with his words and soulful with his vocals. Simply a fun set to watch.

By the end of the night I was exhausted but completely content. The iHeartRadio Beach Ball was so well organized and implemented. The team behind the scenes kept everything running smoothly and seamlessly. The selection of artists and division of them over the two days shows forethought and understanding of the marketplace.

I hope this event becomes a mainstay and returns year after year. I will definitely support it as much as I can.

Day 1 photos © Jamie Taylor//Cryptic Photography
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Day 2 photos © Jamie Taylor//Cryptic Photography
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