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Concert Photography, Concert Reviews, Music, Ottawa Bluesfest 2013

Concert Review: Ottawa Bluesfest 2013 (Day 8) – Great Big Sea, The Waterboys, Matthew Good + More

By: Scott Penner (@ScottPenner) –

St. John’s, Newfoundland-based folk-rock trio Great Big Sea, who is fronted by Sean McCann, Alan Doyle and Bob Hallett, are currently on their 20th anniversary tour and they opened their headlining performance with a video montage of vintage clips dating back through their 20-year history as a band.

The band started the show in a line across the front of the stage, but they were very active in both addressing the crowd and walking around the stage to give all the fans a good view of them. By the time they asked the crowd to “get this party started”, the beer lines ran for miles and the crowd was on their feet in full sing along mode.

Throughout their 20-song set, they treated the crowd to both big singles like “Ordinary Day” and “Old Black Rum”, but also to previously unreleased songs like the folky “Heart of Hearts” but in true east coast fashion, the crowd danced, clapped and sang along to almost every song of the set.

Despite Great Big Sea’s history with Bluesfest, having played the festivals dozens of times, they always provide a fresh and invigorating experience everytime they play.

Scottish folk-rockers The Waterboys, fronted by Scottish-born Mike Scott, was easily one of the highlights of the day as this was a very long overdue debut Bluesfest performance. Scott was joined by long-time bandmate and fiddling legend Steve Wickham, and the chemistry between Scott, Wickham and their new “hired guns” of session musicians was a pleasure to watch as the new band rattled through the band’s most memorable songs.

From their most well-known songs including “A Girl Called Johnny”, “Strange Boat”, and “Fisherman’s Blues”, their performance was also a debut of sorts for a handful of new songs, including “Still a Freak” and as they returned for an encore just before the end of their 75 minute performance, they treated fans to not only another blistering fiddle solo but another new song about seeing Elvis in the afterlife. Scott later told the crowd that he hoped to return to Ottawa and that he looked forward to playing a smaller club where everybody was packed tightly together.

Canadian alternative rock icon Matthew Good, who will release his new album, Arrows of Desire, on September 24th, opened his set with “Giant”, from Matthew Good Band’s 1999 album Beautiful Midnight, and through his 11-song set-list, Good ran through several of his solo and Matthew Good Band’s hits including “Last Parade”, “The Future Is X-Rated” and “Apparitions”, in addition to two new songs from Arrows of Desire including the first single “Had It Coming” and “We’re Long Gone”, both of which are the straightforward rock and roll tunes that we’ve come to expect from Good. Despite being a veteran on the music scene, Good’s voice has remained as powerful and distinct as ever.

Great Big Sea


The Waterboys


Matthew Good


Loon Choir




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