Audience Participation A Must for Ann Vriend

Ann Vriend
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Myer Horowitz Theatre
with Coco Love Alcorn

Ann Vriend’s first remark upon sitting down at the grand piano in Myer Horowitz theatre was that all she could see in the audience were six red exit signs.  As soon as she started playing, no one was in a rush to find them.

Vriend’s May 29 show wrapped up a short Western Canada tour with a group of musicians she assembled to record her new album, expected on shelves in fall 2010.  They head into the studio this week.  After playing a week’s worth of shows together, the band sounds tight.  If Saturday’s concert is any indication of what we can expect on the new album, it will be worth keeping an eye open for.

Some aspects of the recording process were already underway in the Myer Horowitz theatre as audience members were invited to sing and clap along for two songs that Vriend had written “audience participation” parts for.  After some enthusiastic coaching and instructions to sing more like we were at an NHL game, I think we nailed it.

That’s not to say the concert replicated a rowdy arena.  Classy as always, Vriend’s signature combination of smooth soul and jazzy pop warmed up the room.  Her comfortable stage banter cultivated an intimate space, and I almost wished we were in a smaller theatre or a café.  Her gift for storytelling has always shone through her songs, and we were privileged to hear the back story for a few of the tracks that will be on her upcoming album.  There was also a good dose of nostalgia from earlier albums, including the classic “Waterfront”.  Vriend’s timeless voice makes these old songs new every time. 

Chloe Albert and Coco Love Alcorn provided backing vocals in the band, and Alcorn opened the show with a solo set.    In a black dress with “nerdy and flirty” written across the chest (from the clothing line simon + coco that she designs with her husband), Alcorn sang of her soft spot for math geeks and her love of two-wheeled transit.  I’ve never heard anyone make riding a bicycle sound so sexy.  She wrapped up her set with “Revolution”, the song that won her a nomination for an East Coast Music Award in the category of Songwriter of the Year.  It was obvious why she received that nod.  Alcorn’s vocal power and impressive improv skills proved that her nomination for Female Solo Recording of the Year was also well deserved. 

Ann Vriend is busy these days: fresh off an Australian tour, preparing a new recording, and working on a film project in her spare time.  Nothing about her show was tired, though.  Her songwriting skills are sharper than ever, and her gorgeous voice never gets weary.

more in Music Feature     |     posted Jun 2nd, 2010 at 12:09pm     

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