Great Big Sea Rocked My Weekend!

Admittedly, Great Big Sea is one of my favorite bands to see live. They are all excellent musicians who know how to engage their audiences with their wide-ranging songs – from ballads to sea shanties to folk to rock, they do it all!


This review combines two shows at very different venues, the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, New Hampshire, and The Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, Massachusetts.  The former is a 1,300-seat venue and the latter seats 280.IMG_1443

Great Big Sea is Alan Doyle, Sean McCann, Bob Hallett, Murray Foster, and Kris MacFarlane. All are multi-instrumentalists and singers.

Bob Hallett

Bob Hallett

Alan Doyle

Alan Doyle

Sean McCann

Sean McCann

Murray Foster

Murray Foster

Kris MacFarlane

Kris MacFarlane, smiling at a 7-year old girl who was shooting video

At the Capitol Center show, GBS performed one of their traditional concerts – two sets of an hour or so each. They started the show with ‘Ordinary Day’ which is the way they started all the shows I’ve seen this year (five). It’s a great song to get the crowd moving.



They played songs spanning their entire twenty-year career (this was a 20th anniversary tour, after all), from their first album ‘Great Big Sea’ to their most recent ‘XX’, which appeared to be what the audience expected to hear. Something happened that I don’t think I’ve ever seen at a GBS show – Sean broke into improptu songs, one of which was ‘My Way’! Fantastic!!!

Sean singing 'My Way'


They sing some songs a cappella, which truly showcases their chemistry. Their harmonies are incredible…

Which brings me to the show at The Narrows. This was the smallest venue at which I’ve seen GBS, and I think it’s going to spoil me for any show of theirs I see from now on. Everyone is close to the stage here, which is set about 18″ off the floor. Calling this an intimate venue is an understatement.


They had never played here and I got the sense they loved it. And why not, it’s a great venue! There were a lot of people in the audience who had never been to The Narrows, which did not surprise me.


They did something this night I’ve never seen them do before – they played one long set, after asking the audience if that was okay! Alan explained that they usually take a set break to get a drink, but since The Narrows is BYOB they didn’t have to leave the stage! Awesome!!! They didn’t have to stop playing after they were warmed up and had a lot of momentum.

Thank you, Alan, for sitting down at my table (after asking permission!!!) and asking me if I thought the show was going well! The sincerity in his question was amazing – almost like a young lad who was unsure if he was doing the right thing.

Alan, commenting on a bottle of rum that was given to the band

Alan, opening a bottle of rum that was given to the band

Sean did a couple of impromptu songs this night – ‘Red, Red Wine’ and ‘Redemption Song’. Both excellent!

They were fabulous with the audience. There were a few children in the crowd, and GBS engaged them.  The 7-year old girl who was sitting near me was told that she had the prettiest flower in the audience (she was wearing one on her headband). When she was shooting her video, Kris did something cute:

Kris, mugging for the little girl

Kris, mugging for the little girl

As soon as they decided to do one set and add lots of songs that weren’t on the set list, Sean tore his into shreds and gave it to a young girl sitting at a table near him. Alan gave a guitar pick to another child, and at the end of the show the roadie (whose name I forget) gave picks to all the kids.

I can honestly say that the show at The Narrows was the best I’ve seen them. Maybe it brought images of the days when they were a new band who struggled to fill venues. Maybe it was because the band is apparently going on an indefinite hiatus (Sean has already announced that he’s leaving the band, and Murray is making a film The Cocksure Lads in which Alan is also involved) so this was the last time I would be seeing GBS with the usual cast of characters. Maybe it was because they were on fire.

And maybe it was all of the above. Thank you, GBS, for all the music. You’ve had a great run!

About suze72

I've loved the arts all my life... I go to a lot of concerts, take lots of photos and want to share them. Every once in a while I do something other than a concert, too. The Boston area is full of opportunities to indulge my passion - I'd like to help make it yours too!

Posted on November 25, 2013, in concert reviews, music, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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