I plunked out a whole day at the Pacific National Exhibition Monday night, with the goal of watching the Chris Issak concert that evening (penultimate goal being to devour a bag of still warm mini doughnuts). I dragged my friend with me, who eventually confessed through his second bad of mini doughnuts, that he rather go climb a mountain twice over than watch Chris Issak perform. No amount of cajoling (c’mon, he’s supposed to be great live), coaxing (good friends are supposed to support bad music choices even at risk of their own musical integrity), bribery (maple bacon ice cream?), sneaky maneuvers (let’s go watch the pig races, then a milking demonstration, oh look, there are your friends so let’s catch up with them, can I see your keys – they looked crooked….), or thinly veiled threats (if you don’t watch the show with me this may be a friendship deal breaker).
Nothing would budge the beast, so I was abandoned at the entrance of the marketplace. I consoled myself by purchasing miracle no- chemicals necessary cleaning cloths (removes all caked in stains, just add water), a knife sharpener (the tungsten will never wear out, it’s the hardest known material after diamonds), and Tupperware (what happened to the days of Tupperware parties?).
At some point I realized that I needed to make my way to the amphitheatre, slowly converted over the years from a demolition derby venue, to motocross, to monster truck rides, to a logging competition, to its present incarnation as a concert venue. I passed dueling pianists in the beer garden, stopped for a root beer float (established in the early days of the PNE from the looks of it and its lovely proprietress), and gawker at the carnies in their gaming cubicles, surrounded by oversized cheap and cheerful stuffed toys.
I was lucky to find a seat right in the centre of the freebie, open seats. Unfortunately the sky threatened to open up on all of us, so the gentleman next to me put on his rain pants in an attempt to avert the pending rain – it is usually the law of umbrellas and such things that the moment you bring an umbrella, it won’t rain.
The crowd slowly gathered, sadly not the great number expected as the possibility of inclement weather had clearly scared off the public from celebrating that last day before school, and all that encompasses that hallowed institution, starts. I had a brief flutter that my friend was not the only one holding strong a strong opinion about Chris Isaak’s music, but by 8:30, when the show was to start, most seats were filled, umbrellas and ponchos at the ready, and then Chris Isaak came out.
Bejeweled, bedazzling, sporting a royal blue sequined suit, hair carefully combed back 15 times, a cheerful smile, and an eye for the blondes in the crowd, Isaak rocked the stage with a couple of hits to warm us up. I taped a short video of one song to send to my friend “don’t leave me on my own.”
Then Isaak broke into a brilliant little stand up routine which got us all laughing, promising us state fair quality entertainment with the possibility of some Beyonce moments, introduced his band, and got right back into rocking the stage with more hits. He walked among his fans, made us feel like he really didn’t mind singing in the rain, and that he loved having the chance to perform for us. We loved it, and cheered and clapped, swayed along to the music, and sang along to our favorites.
Watching Chris Isaak perform was so much fun. He’s a true entertainer and a polished professional. He’s got an shtick that works, that some people might think passé, but it works and it’s great.
The only sad part of the whole affair was that the un-jinxing of my rain-pant wearing neighbor didn’t work, and it began to rain…probably because I didn’t bring an umbrella. I had to leave a I was getting cold, just as the show was getting right into the swing of the night. I met up with my frien
d afterwards, to warm up and to show him snippets of the show. He grudgingly admitted that it might have been fun to stay and to have watched the Chris Isaak show.
And I’ll make sure I bring an umbrella next time.