Bob Geldof and the Great Pumpkin
The timing of our Ottawa vacation was actually determined by one Sir Bob Geldof, who was doing concerts in Eastern Canada for the first time in 9 years. Perversely, I suppose, we decided to see him play at the city farthest from our own. (But really, would you rather visit Hamilton, Oshawa… or Ottawa? Right?)
Now, I’ve already produced a rather long review of the whole concert. This post will focus on a few points that made the concert really special.
Best seats in the house
Thanks to me contacting the theatre more or less the minute tickets went on sale, we were sitting in the very centre of the very first row, which the usher declared were the “Best seats in the house!”. Certainly was nice having no blocked view of the stage whatsoever. And when Bob did stroll to the front of the stage, he was really right in front of us.
And, it wasn’t a bad vantage point for taking pictures.
You know, I do bring my husband to many concerts of interest more to me. Sometimes he’s bored by them, sometimes he’s slightly mystified by them, sometimes he’s mildly entertained, and occasionally… He loves them.
At the end of this one, he had the biggest grin. His comments included:
- That was really good!
- He just made it so entertaining!
(I’m figuring, since he’s not the big, life-long fan, his opinion means more than mine.)
How do you think he does it? What makes him so good?
- The band is large—six musicians—and highly skilled. They convey Bob’s songs extremely well.
- The show, about two hours long, is very well programmed and paced. The hits interspersed amongst maybe lesser-known songs, light music to start leading to more thoughtful than to dark ones, and concluding with completely fun ones. It never lags, whether you know all the tunes or not.
- Bob is a really charismatic guy, and he really gets into the songs. You can’t take your eyes off him, and there’s no way to not get caught up in his passion.
- He is fascinating guy who has led (well, is leading) an incredible life. When he talks, it’s as interesting as when he sings.
Geldof, of course, often deals with really serious issues of world poverty and whatnot, and therefore has a reputation of being an angry, grumpy guy. And maybe he is, but he’s also really funny. And he doesn’t trot out the same old jokes each time. No, the ones we heard were definitely customized for us.
- Complaints that he thought he was playing the big city of Ottawa, but instead found himself miles from nowhere, on “Little House on the Prairie”. [Centrepointe Theatre, in Nepean, kind of is in the middle of nowhere, in fact…]
- Amusement that the biggest highlight of the Ottawa Market was this 900 pound pumpkin on display.
- A recurring trashing of the recently visited Oshawa, a city that apparently makes even Ottawa’s “little house on the prairie” look good.
Some set highlights
- Hearing some Boomtown Rats songs that aren’t as famous, and that he hadn’t played on the last tour, like “When the Night Comes” and “Joey’s on the Street again”.
- Getting the backstory to “Scream in Vain”, which, on record, is an odd song about yams. It had its genesis in his return to Ethiopia ten years after Live Aid, and finding lush fields where previously there was death, dust, and desert. And seeing that helped him start to get out of his own severe depression, from his wife leaving him. And then they played “Scream in Vain”, and it just came across so powerfully…
- An astonishingly sexy, extended version of the lustful “Mary of Fourth Form”.
Age is just a number
Bob Geldof is 61 years old. So all these people commenting on “Oh, he looks so old, now”–well, he is old. Of course he doesn’t look 30 anymore. And, he’s just not the type to run to the Lady Clairol, so with that crazy shock of long, completely gray hair… Kind of looks like a mad professor, or something.
But his voice has lost nothing of its range and power. He can still cover that octave and a half of “I Don’t Like Mondays”, still “scream in vain” during some songs, and sing softly and gently during others. Rather nasal, it’s never been a beautiful voice, but he has sure does a lot with what he has.
He’s also very energetic during the entire show, bobbing in place at times, moving around the stage at others. He remains very lean, and apparently very fit.
And up close, with the crazy hair partly hidden under a hat, and smiling, he still looks pretty handsome.
If you ever do go see Bob Geldof in concert—as you should, before you die—you might want to stick around after. He’s often nice enough to come out and meet with fans. Or so I hear.
Full review: Bob Geldof live in Ottawa