The Tea Party have been touring across Canada to sold out shows, performing their album Transmission in its entirety, as well as a slew of other hits and crowd favorites, and if the photos on social media were any indication, audiences were absolutely totally involved in the process from start to finish… would Kelowna (in a sit down theatre) be on the list of wild nights? Absolutely!
Just a side note before we start; I have to shake my head in wonderment at people who dont realize that ‘performing their album in it’s entirety’ means just that – a few front row sitters left halfway through the first set. The seats were soon filled by two die hard fans nudged over by the security fellow (kudos to him for being so great all night!).
The band was on fire. Literally.. terrible cliche I know, but the energy from the band was incredible and just ramped up more and more as the audience responded back to it. Such a great rapport from band to audience and no doubt due to the commanding presence of singer and frontman Jeff Martin who took the time to break the ice with us, as well as ‘on your feet’ about 4 songs in. It worked.. we were on our feet for a few of the more boisterous songs, and sitting back down for the softer ballads. At one point Martin mentioned ‘our neighbours to the south’ and ‘the big orange guy who treats women badly’ quantifying that with “I’m not into politics. I could give a flying fuck about politics, but Jeff, Stu and I are all members of the White Ribbon campaign that brings light globally to male violence against women. Treat your ladies right guys.. ” and gave the ladies in the audience a special shoutout.
A brief intermission; “go buy our merch, help put our kids through college,” (said with a chuckle), and into the second set, starting with the hit everyone was dying to hear – ‘Temptation’. The audience lost it. It became a singalong with Martin egging us on to fill in the chorus without him, admonishing us for not being loud enough and Jeff Burrows (drums) standing up at the drum kit waving his arms to emphasize Martin’s encouragement. We got louder! Including some fellow in the audience who yelled, I love you Jeff. (of course both Jeff Martin and Burrows grinned ear to ear)
A few more songs including Martin on bongos and mandolin, bassist Stu Chatwood switching to keyboards, and drummer Burrows out front to direct us in the proper use of hand clapping (not just the 2-4 beat) and slapping hands in the front row before sauntering back to his kit.
The finale was incredible. For the life of me I don’t remember what song it was they started – too busy in the experience. ‘Heaven Coming Down’ perhaps? It morphed into a cover of The Stones.. and then suddenly into a very familiar set of lyrics: see the storm set in your eyes, see the thorn twist in your side.. U2’s ‘With or Without You’. The audience went crazy! Martin picked up on the change of energy (from serious adoration to lighthearted joy) and ran with it, stepping into the front of stage waving his arms to keep us filling in the ooh ooh’s and (for me) as a die hard u2 fan, it was thrilling to hear the band pull it off. This morphed yet again into Bowie ‘Under Pressure’, then into ‘Heroes’ and Martins voice I swear, eerily and beautifully channeled Bowie until they ended with their own song that had started the medley. Martin pressed his guitar pick into the hand of an enthralled male fan, Burrows slapped hands down the entire line of fans down the length of the stage, and Chatwood waved with both hands and couldn’t stop grinning as the band reluctantly left the stage to call it a night.
Vancouver — you’re in for a wild ride!
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