Saturday, December 16, 2006

Pop go the Ladies

Flickr is broken right now, so I have to entertain myself in other ways. It is sad because I have about 30 pictures from our company holiday party to upload and they're funny (at least I think so). I guess I will write a journal entry and bide my time until Flickr decides to stop being a whiny little brat.

Barenaked Ladies and the Boston Symphony OrchestraWhen last we spoke, your humble narrator had procured four tickets to see the Boston Pops holiday show -- complete with Barenaked Ladies as special holiday guest. I have never gone to see the Pops holiday show, so I didn't know what to expect. I have also never watched a TV broadcast of the Pops holiday show. Again, reinforcing the don't know what to expectness of the evening.

Doug told me we had to dress up. I was slightly confused. I mean, it may be the Boston pops orchestra, but it's the holidays and BNL and silly and... okay. If you insist. He puts on a tie and coat, and I get Geoff into his clothes.

He is FREAKING out. Totally. Freaking out of his ever loving mind. "I'm going to a rock show not a funeral or a wedding! I am a rocker! I'm wearing my jeans and a t-shirt!" I told him, well, if you wear the dress shirt with your jeans and a nice belt and tie, that would be fine in my mind.

But not in Doug's. Doug knew. This is a dress up affair. Not a dress somewhat halfway up. So he battled Geoff and got the dress pants on him. Absolute chaos reigned and I was almost ready to just call two friends and leave the boys home. Screw it. But we all went.

We get to Boston, find easy parking on Huntington Ave at a broken meter in front of the YMCA. Take that Mayor Menino! Ha! We go to Uno's and eat dinner. Geoff is struggling to be civil, what with wearing that tie and all. He argued with us the entire meal about how he's a "rocker" and has to dress like a rocker, not like a nerd.

When we finish up, he goes to the bathroom and comes out with his shirt all unbuttoned, tie off, shirt tails untucked, and this makes Doug's head explode. The fact the boy is alive is a credit to Doug's resolve to not ever need to be in prison.

We go over to Symphony Hall, and everyone there is dressed impeccably. There is fur, there are gowns, there are ties, there are bow ties. There are dress shoes, there are glittery blouses. Everyone is there, dressed to the nines, and my son finally kind of gets it. It's not a rock show -- it's a symphony. And now he's pissed because he doesn't want to see the stupid orchestra. He wants to see Barenaked Ladies. I tell him again and again, you WILL see Barenaked Ladies. I promise you, they are going to be here.

Reference the earlier part of this entry where I say that I've never been to one of these things, so I don't know what to expect. Well. I didn't know that the Pops and the Tanglewood choir would do several numbers. I did not know that a gospel singer named Renese E. King would be singing a couple of songs. I didn't know that Geoff would have to sit through that first. And it was a struggle.

"This is boring. This is STUPID! I hate this!" over and over. He hated Renese King and at the intermission he told my friend Mathmarie "I wanted that lady to get off the stage so the Barenaked Ladies could come on."

I saw my old choir director from our old church. She was there with her lovely daughter. I asked her if she was looking forward to the special guests, Barenaked Ladies -- and she looked at me like I said Purple Monkey Dishwasher. Blank stare. "Who is the special guest?"

Oh dear. I think you're in for it honey. She's very proper and very austere sometimes -- and I immediately got the feeling that the vast majority of people here did not have a clue what they were in for. Sort of like I didn't have a clue that the Pops would be playing without the boys at all... she didn't have a clue who the special guests were. And I looked around. Lots and lots of white haired old people. Lots of obvious BNL fans. And a vast ocean between them of what to expect.

Well, after the intermission, Geoff got his wish. The boys came out and opened with "Jingle Bells." If you have heard it, you know it opens the Barenaked for the Holidays CD that came out a while back. It starts out very traditional, sweet, slow, proper. And then they make it a foot stomping ridiculous romp through the snow with silly lyrics, crazy behavior, excellent drum work and the type of treatment that still gets BNL labeled as the Clown Princes of Pop Music.

My expectations of the crowd reaction were shattered when the boys got goofy. The crowd went nuts. You knew that this was honestly and wonderfully funny, entertaining, and unexpected to them. And people were all around me with their mouths hanging open, not in shock or disbelief -- but in absolute amazement and joy.

Excellent. Score one for the boys of Scarborough.

Steve even mocked the formal feel of the Pops by getting a silly dance on, and then stopping himself, settling himself down with his hands, and then losing control again. Over and over. Keith Lockhart looked over his shoulder while conducting to see what kind of a dance Steve was doing, and then joined in. The crowd again goes totally nuts. Look at the conductor. Mr. Maestro. Losing his professional seriousness and getting his goof on. It was priceless.

So they blast through that, the audience going as nuts as a symphony audience can go. Next they gave us "Three Ships." Kevin played his mandolin, sings the opening lines in his unexpectedly sweet little voice. The choir joins in, Steve almost makes a catastrophic error on entering the song while the choir is singing their part so he just stands there with his mouth open, frozen, as Ed is laughing at his near trainwreck. It is a lovely mix, with the orchestra and the choir. And I look at Geoff, who is sitting beside me, enthralled.

They did "We 3 Kings/God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and Ed tricked the audience with his "It would give me great pleasure to welcome Ms. Sarah Mclachlan to the stage!" joke. And they were sorely let down and disappointed when he said "I said it would give me pleasure but she's not here." ha ha. burned!

BNL did a little banter. Tyler noted that Keith Lockhart coordinates his socks to match his blouse. So the audience found the use of the term blouse entertaining. They talk about melting snowmen and how bottled water is nothing more than pure, sweet melted snowman.

Ed did a little thing on how everyone thinks snowmen are happy go lucky, jolly fellows. But if he were a snowman he'd be pissed off. You stand out there grinning, and then you melt. What fun is there in that? I knew what was coming next and my heart leapt. Jess looked over at me grinning hugely because she knew too. They did my favorite BNL song ever -- "Snowman."

If you want buy a bnl song on iTunes and don't know what to get -- start here. I think it is the sweetest little song, one of the best examples of Ed Robertson's songwriting and guitar work. It makes me cry. Few things on this earth make me cry.

So I sat there, fighting back the tears, and the choir sang back up harmony and the orchestra swelled.

They also did "Green Christmas" which is a little song off the Jim Carey version of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." It is a cute, underrated song about envy and sadness at Christmas time. Again -- like the sad snowman song, not your typical "Hey Christmas is so great!" kind of song. Which is why we love BNL.

Hanukkah Blessing was also in there, and I loved hearing it. I love Steve's voice and love hearing all the guys sing the blessing in Hebrew.

And they closed with "Do they know it's Christmas?" The audience clapping along and singing with. It was a great time. At the end of the song, Steve belts into the end of "O Holy Night" with the full orchestra behind him, blasting and cranking it out as only the Operatic Rock Star Steven Page can do.

Someone on the discussion board said that when he does it, it "melts my geld." And I love that phrase. Yes indeed. He melted a lot of geld with that performance, even getting silly in the end by pretending to be surprised when the audience cheered for him as he held that huge high note at the end of "O night divine..." He conducted the audience to cheer and stop, cheer and stop, and then stepped right back where he left off in "divine...."

I enjoyed myself. Geoff enjoyed himself. Doug liked it. Jess was beaming. Our seats were in the absolute dead-last row in the second balcony. The Uecker Seats, if you get the reference. But that didn't matter. They were great. And I was happy. Merry Christmas to me.

We had a great time, but there were folks there who did not.

The people sitting right in front of Doug and Jess were total non-believers in the holiday joy that is BNL. They came to the Pops that night to enjoy a holiday pops show, and they got these jerky Canadian assclowns running around and acting stupid. The man couldn't understand the banter, and when everyone would crack up laughing he turned to his wife with this totally boggled expression, asking "what did he say?"

True, it was difficult to hear in the Uecker Seats. So they missed a lot. They were extra confused when BNL did "Deck The Stills," which is a four part harmonization of the names "Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young," repeated over and over to the tune of "Deck the Halls."

They did it with the full choir, so that was extra funny. Steve said it was the North American premiere of this super secret song. He did this whole DaVinci Code kind of thing, saying these were the original Latin lyrics, lost for centuries. They'd discovered the song lyrics when they were in college at the Sorbonne, and their teacher took them to the Lourve and they flipped over the painting of the Mona Lisa and found them there!

The girl in front of me kept yelling "Wooooooooo!" while applauding, and the woman next to her, the wife portion of the confused, unhappy couple, would shove her finger tips into her ears and look askance at the girl with this total glare of disdain as if to say "How dare you unwashed, uncultured heathens come into Symphony Hall!"

They didn't applaud once.

I felt badly for them on one hand, but on the other... it was very funny. Very very funny. I just don't know what else to say. Poor folks. It helps in life to know what you're getting into when you go somewhere. Like I should know that the pops and the choir perform for a bunch of songs; and they should know that the special unorthodox holiday guests will be goofy goofballs with jeans on and ridiculous fauxhawk hairdoos.

We were tempted to leave after the set was over but were encouraged not to by friends who saw the 1pm performance. The Middlesex County Volunteers Fife and Drum band came out in full Colonial dress and played a couple of songs. They were spectacular. I love the sound of the flutes in harmony, played perfectly, and they just looked kick ass. Geoff was equally impressed.

Santa came out and we did a big sing-along, which was lots of fun, and everyone enjoyed it. I was impressed that Jess knows all the words to "Let it Snow..." because I sure don't.

Then Renese King (yawn) came out again and sang one of my least favorite holiday songs, "Do You Hear What I Hear?" I hate that song. Almost as much as "Little Drummer Boy." Feh. And BNL came out for "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and they sang the Figgy Pudding part. And they were comical, of course.

I wanted more, but it was over. And we went home. I guess this was taped for broadcast "Next Year," meaning next Christmas... so you can see it too, in an overly edited schmaltzed up version on either Channel 4 or PBS.

Well, I guess that's it. I have a holiday party to report on next. So watch for another entry either tonight or tomorrow.

A special shout out of thanks to Bree here, because she tried to get me hooked up with her housemate who works at Symphony Hall, to see if we could upgrade our seats. The guy at the box office was no help and didn't know who Joe was, so we just kept our seats. But I do appreciate that a sistah would let her housemate know that a huge fan of BNL was in the house. Thank you darlin.

Alright. more later.

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