Leave it to multi-platinum Canadian band Great Big Sea to celebrate two decades in the music business with an arena show that felt a kitchen party.
But that’s exactly what vocalist/guitarist Alan Doyle, tin whistle/bodhran player Sean McCann and accordionist/fiddler Bob Hallet did at the Interior Savings Centre Friday night.
Sure, Great Big Sea stood on a large stage backlit by twin Roman numeral Xs — representative of their recent compilation XX — but the performance evoked the band’s good-time drinking mood usually reserved for a more informal setting.
This, of course, is what Great Big Sea is known for, having garnered success by turning traditional Newfoundland songs into radio-friendly rock hits.
Signature song Ordinary Day kicked off the first of two lengthy sets along with a video highlighting Great Big Sea’s 20 years in the industry.
“It’s Friday night in Kamloops and it’s going off,” shouted Doyle.
The audience’s enthusiastic response set the stage for the rest of the night as people clapped, sang along to the lyrics and pumped fists in the air.
It didn’t matter if Doyle, McCann and Hallet played their big hits, original tunes or cover songs, Kamloops knew them all.
“Thank you very much,” Doyle said after a particularly impressive sing-a-long.
A highlight of the evening included a rousing rendition of The Night Paddy Murphy Died. Fans responded in turn, and nearly blew the roof off with their applause.
“This isn’t a disco. This is Friday night in Kamloops,” Doyle observed. “You’re looking very good tonight.”
There was also time for some joking around.
“We’re Great Big Sea and we’ve come all the way from Newfoundland, where the palm trees grow,” said Doyle. “Bring your bikinis.”
He said the concert was 20 years in the making, and that they’d do it all again in a second. Given the dancing, singing and general fun on display, no one in the ISC would be disappointed.
Great Big Sea first played Kamloops in 1993 at Thompson Rivers University, then the University College of the Cariboo.