On Friday night, Elise LeGrow and her band played a free concert on the patio of Roy Thompson Hall. I got there just before she got on stage to find a full house waiting in anticipation for this songstress to come aboard and soothe each and every soul. It was a very civilized audience sitting on the patio, sipping their favorite beverage and smiling with each and every passing moment. Elise slipped into a very vulnerable version of Your Biggest fan. It was honest and had all the yearnings you would expect from a great Sade song.
Elise went into her single from her up and coming CD- Playing Chess. This was originally a Chuck Berry song, but the way Elise rearranges the arrangements, she truly makes it her own. The song is called, “You can never tell”. She quickly goes into a light funk mood with the classic, ”Ain’t no Sunshine”, and grabs the audience’s attention and proceeds to have some fun with the renewed reception of an ever growing congregation.
The band took a little break, which gave me a chance to talk to this happy and ambitious crowd. I personally discovered her music a couple weeks ago at the Beaches Jazz Festival and wondered how the rest of these people came out to see her. It seems her new fan base has come from CBC Radio, as well as You Tube. She plays the Orbit Room a lot and even has done a stint opening for Chantel Kaviazuk at Jackson Triggs Winery.
Her second set seemed to add to the growing experience of new found fans and new initiatives to this ritual of joy. With the song, “Rescue Me”, Elise added a layer of sassiness that gave the crowd something to smile about. She extended her fingers to the sky and swirled them around as if to entice you into a wonderful trance. This siren has more than one trick to keep you engaged in her entire performance. She, of course, has a great band that knows when to add to the experience. Her drummer, Adam Bowman, went into a solo that woke the audience up and got them excited to hear more. The Saxophone player, Alison Young, played a lot of the undertones and tried not to stand out very much, but there were moments that the solo needed a little wailing, and wailing was provided quite well.
Elise finished the evening with a song called, “Valerie”. This is one of those songs you just can’t help but smile as you listen to it. We even had some audience participation with some bird like moments in the adoring crowd, and I am not talking about doing the chicken dance. The evening came to a close when the crowd decided they wanted one more. I could see the band talking about what to do next, and they looked a little perplexed but decided to take on a monster of a song to finish the evening. The reason I say monster is this: you have a small waif of a woman standing on stage with a smoky and squeaky voice, and the band decides to finish with, Barry White’s, “Can’t get enough of your love, babe”. Well if this woman ever wanted to challenge herself on stage, she just pulled off a major feat, and with style and dignity. The audience sang along as the band exited for the evening.
Here are a couple pics from Elise LeGrow’s performance:
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