The cards are on the table. I was gonna bundle my Joel Plaskett review onto the end of my ode to Steve Earle, AS YOU DO, because Plaskett opened up for Earle as part of the Cultural Olympiad show at Vancouver’s Orpheum Theatre last night.
But. I. Just. Can’t.
Why? Because Joel Plaskett, his cowboy shirt and his dad deserve more.
I’ve never seen Plaskett on his own before. But I was a fair Thrush Hermit fan. One year, I even randomly ended up playing Trivial Pursuit with TH’s Ian McGettigan in Cannington, Ontario on Boxing Day. Think we all gave up before anyone won.
The Plaskett/Earle double bill was inspired – where Earle spins tales about blues heroes, jail and drugs, Plaskett is a different kind of troubadour, the kind who records a triple album with his dad, Bill, sings about practically every Canadian city on the map and tells tales about coming into Vancouver airport with his $7 Value Village keyboard. And yet, doesn’t suck.
He’s utterly charming, enormously endearing (“Hey daddy, c’mon back to the stage”) and had every single one of the Nova Scotia transplants-to-BC in the room swooning. Despite the typically Canadian self-deprecating humour (“I played the Orpheum four years ago, and I sold one album afterwards”), his songs were made for a big room with amazing acoustics.
“Happen Now”, the pretty “True Patriot Love” and “Nowhere With You” sounded ace. But it was the tracks off of his triple-CD Three, (including “You Let Me Down”, “Sailor’s Eyes” – a song, Plaskett said, is for anyone “who’s been left behind..but it sounds better with penny whistles” – “Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’” “Rewind, Rewind, Rewind” and “Wishful Thinking” that really sounded stonking.
And if stonking was enough, highlights of the night had to be the utterly creepy, aorta-bursting “Heartless, Heartless, Heartless” (which had headliner Steve Earle swaying at the sidestage) and finally, the encore – yep, the opener got a standing ovation and a call for an encore – of 2005’s “Love This Town”. “Picture one hand clapping”, Plaskett sang about Kelowna, “now halve that sound…there’s a reason why I hate that town.”
And. The. Crowd. Went. Wild