And what a fantastic night it was!
Before the music began, the president of CAP in Hamilton, Mr. Paul Heimpel, introduced the evening with a brief but moving speech, saying that he'd bet just about everyone in the Hamilton Place Theatre had encountered cancer in their family or friends. He then surprised the audience by revealing that now he too had just been diagnosed with the disease. It was a sober moment but Paul didn't allow anyone to dwell on it for long. It was time for the entertainment, and on the bill were opposite ends of the musical age charts, and all from Hamilton: the iconic and prolific singer/songwriter, Ian Thomas
, now in his 60's, was the headliner. Opening for him, was that young (just turned 30) and much loved former Canadian Idol winner, Brian Melo.
From the moment Brian and his bandmates walked onto the darkened stage, one sensed something special was about to happen. Beautiful acapella harmonies filled the room as the lights went up on stage, revealing what I've nicknamed, "the awesome foursome": Brian Melo, Victoria Boland and Andrew Rudd of the singer/songwriter duo, AndrewVictoria
and Kristal Vanderkruk, violinist.
Brian delivered up to an hour of wonderful songs, a mixture of his own excellent originals and some covers, backed beautifully and perfectly by Victoria Boland
on vocals joined occasionally by Andrew. Both Kristal on fiddle and Andrew on lead guitar delivered some riveting, applause-earning instrumentals, and when the foursome brought their set to a close with a brilliant and energetic cover of Fleetwood Mac's song, THE CHAIN, the audience was on its feet in an appreciative, and well-deserved standing ovation. What a world-class performance from 4 local Hamilton musicians!
A 20-minute intermission and the audience applauded the entrance of the night's headlining act, Ian Thomas, accompanied also by a 3-piece band. Ian, as famous for his sense of humour as his clever and chart-topping songs, kept the audience in stitches between tunes that ranged from his 70's hits to a very moving and thoughtful song, "Little Dreams" on his soon to be released new CD. We hummed and sang along as he reminded us of "Rudolf Valentino ...riding in his limousino"
and those "Painted Ladies"
and a bottle of wine. He teased the audience after inviting them to sing the catchy refrain and praised them for not forgetting the words ... la-la-la ... and we all enjoyed his making fun of us.
But one of the most enjoyable songs of the night was his tongue in cheek story, sung to the tune of "The Girl from Ipanema"
about a middle-aged man wearing his speedos on the beach, who "when he passes, each one he passes says EW!"
That had all of us roaring with laughter, especially me, since I have a husband who is 70 and will not shed his speedos despite pleas from his adult daughters. That one really hit home. That was topped only by the very funny, typically Maritime song that Ian delivered when he was called back with loud shouts of "ENCORE". He managed to, as he put it, kill or have die each of the characters in the song, in true Maritime and hilarious fashion. With Ian Thomas showing yet again why he is so revered and enjoyed by audiences everywhere, he brought a fabulous night of music on behalf of the Cancer Assistance Program to a unforgettable close.