Ann Arbor, MI and Pittsburgh, PA (Oct 5 and 6, 2009)
Ann Arbor is a very familiar stomping ground for us. Over the years we have performed dozens of times at various venues around this active little college town. These days we seemed to have settled into The Ark, which is one of the country’s more storied performance spaces. They could definitely do a bit of an upgrade on the back stage area and the in-house sound system could use an overhaul, but all of that can be overlooked, because the audience that turns out for these shows are always knowledgeable and enthusiastic. These shows are always fun and dynamic and tonight’s was no different. Our performance may have been a bit sloppy and loose but that isn’t always a bad thing, I thought it had an energetic edge.
Pittsburgh is the constant butt of those downtrodden-American-City jokes, but I have always had a soft spot for the place. For one thing it is one of the few American cities that really makes use of its waterfront. The rivers that cut through this town are a large part of its’ downtown life and profile. There is also a sense that no one is giving up on the place, there seems to be some optimism here, reflected in the ongoing downtown renewal projects. It’s also got a fascinating place in American history; it was home to some of the great builders that this country has produced; it is the birthplace of one of the country’s most revolutionary artists and is currently tops in the sporting world with the Penguins and Steelers the reigning champions in their sports. Even the lowly baseball Pirates have a place in my heart: growing up in Montreal I would tune in one of those megawatt radio stations which broadcast out of this area and I’d listen to the Pirate games as I fell asleep. I can still conjure images of Willie Stargell slowly sauntering to the plate; of Steve Blass commanding the game from his perch on the mound; and of Roberto Clemente picking them off at home plate from right field. Despite all that we have never really done that well, from an attendance point of view, in this town and tonight was no different. We were in a beautiful theater but attendance was a little light, but what they lacked in numbers they definitely made up for in enthusiasm and they did their best to spur us on. I think we were all a little tired tonight, I was particularly exhausted and so the show lacked a bit of focus. The four shows in three nights plus the flight to and from Vancouver have taken a bit of a toll. Tomorrow is a much needed day off.