Jeremy Fisher

Date and Venue 1 August 2011, 8.45pm | Pacific Arbour Garden Stage, Millennium Park

Performers Vocals, guitar & harmonica

Reviewer John Jane

On what was, at least weatherwise, Vancouver’s most pleasant weekend so far, it was the turn of Canadian troubadour Jeremy Fisher, fresh from a canoeing vacation, to fill the weekend’s final concert spot - the Harmony Arts Festival however continues until August 7.

“Sounds like Paul Simon, looks like Art Garfunkel” was Fisher’s own self-deprecating description of himself. Actually, it’s a misrepresentation; he doesn’t look that much like Garfunkel. But the musician’s disarming demeanour and an earnest unwillingness to take himself or his music too seriously certainly struck a chord with the audience.

He opened the show with I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man, originally a Prince tune that evokes the image of a woman desperate to find a man to replace the one who just left her. It’s not unusual to expect Fisher to bring his mandolin and/or his ukulele to his gigs, but this time he preferred just a guitar and harmonica attached to a neck harness.

After the Prince cover, Fisher reverted to a stream of his own songs: Cigarette, Shine a Light and the grammatically incorrect Ain’t got Nothing but Plenty of Time. His songs offer simple melody lines and a straight forward instrumental cadence that reveals the influence of Gordon Lightfoot and Paul Simon.
Certainly, Paul Simon’s style is obvious on the song Scar That Never Heals and his take on the New Jersey native’s metaphor loaded Me and Julio down by the School Yard is markedly faithful to the original. I must confess though, I never understood the song’s meaning even when Simon sang it.

The only Jeremy Fisher original tune I was familiar with before Monday night is Jolene, which I recently downloaded from iTunesTM believing it might be the same song that White Stripes recorded. However, when I heard it, I liked it more than the other song that has the same title. It’s one of only a few songs that Fisher plays in a minor key.

Fisher’s laid back style, casual banter and happy-go-lucky music was a great way to end a holiday weekend.

© 2011 John Jane


ABRA Cadabra: ABBA Tribute Concert

Date and Venue 29 July 2011, 8.45pm | Pacific Arbour Garden Stage, Millennium Park

Performers Members of ABRA Cadabra, Kylee, Jeanette, Ryan and Jonas

Reviewer John Jane

It was a warm and clear Friday evening so I decided to join the men, women, children and dogs that made up a large and responsive crowd at the Pacific Arbour Garden Stage for the ABRA Cadabra concert that helped kick-off this year’s Harmony Arts Festival. The ABBA copy group (they would probably prefer the term tribute band) have recently changed their moniker from ABBA Cadabra to comply with Universal Sweden's request to refrain from using the trademark ‘ABBA'' as part of their professional name.

Dressed in silver and black, the foursome plus a guitarist, bass player and drummer arrived on stage around twenty minutes later than the scheduled time. I would assume that they waited for the sun to go down. Starting with Mamma Mia and Dancing Queen, the band delivered a lively selection of the Swedish supergroup’s infectious pop tunes transporting the audience through the years with a tongue-in-cheek retrospect of ABBA favourites: Fernando, SOS, Waterloo and Knowing me, Knowing you – the song that signaled the marriage break-ups.

ABBA is remembered for being a four-piece band, comprised of two married couples: Bjorn Ulvaeus and Agnetha Faltskog plus Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. Ulvaeus was always the consummate showman, who introduced the songs and playfully jested with his band-mates and engaged the audience. However, with ABRA Cadabra it was the female members, Kylee and Jeanette (last names unknown) who assumed the roles of the spokespersons.

Unlike many tribute bands, ABRA Cadabra doesn’t strive to recreate note-perfect imitations of original songs. They perform the tunes in a way that suits their own style and perspicacity; frequently encouraging the audience to sing along.

If you missed ABRA Cadabra’s gig at West Vancouver’s Harmony Arts Festival, they will be performing at the Pacific National Exhibition on August 29 and 30.

© 2011 John Jane