One of the wonderful things about the US Thanksgiving Holiday is that it gives Team GDW a great opportunity to savor one last ‘long’ weekend in Southern Ontario before the close of the year. Always happy to venture up north for this holiday, we took inspiration from our trip last year to once again look at taking in three concerts in three nights. Having already purchased tickets for a show on one of the nights, we decided to spend more time in and around London, ON, and before we knew it, had tickets to three successive nights of music in that particular part of the province.
Making a limited tour announcement just a few weeks ago, it was Emm Gryner’s Thursday night show in the small community of Forest, ON that fit perfectly with our schedule. Having enjoyed seeing her during the Trent Severn concert in Burlington recently, we welcomed the chance to attend a show with her own band and hear some of her own original solo material. And what could be better than spending time with this artist in a historic movie theater on an autumnal Thursday evening? No, we could not think of an alternative neither!
Arriving early at the venue to secure some good seats for this general admission event, we found some great seats up front and settled in to await the show. Taking the stage with her three-piece band (Steve Clark/bass, Kevin Barrett/guitar, and Tim Timleck/drums), Emm would treat those in attendance to two sets of new tunes, old favorites, and some popular covers (complete with three local high school guests for one number). Informing us that she was feeling a little under the weather tonight, Emm managed to keep the symptoms at bay during both sets, even if a little improvisation was necessary at times to modify the pre-determined set list. She would also split her time between both the keyboards and acoustic guitar whilst delivering her vocals and taking the audience on a journey across her musical catalog.
The first set saw Emm seated at the keyboards to perform one of her newer tracks, “A Mission,” before heading center stage with her guitar to fully engage the crowd with her popular hit “Almighty Love.” With a temporary leave of absence from Steve and Tim immediately after this song, Emm took her place once more at the keyboards and introduced a brand new number (“Something Tells Me”) that will appear on the first of a trilogy of new albums set for release in the near future. Steve and Tim would return to the stage and rejoin both Emm and Kevin to perform “Math Wiz” and her great cover of The Clash hit, “Straight To Hell” (I’m sure Ms. Gryner knew that this British guy would appreciate the gesture of a song from his homeland). The band would maintain the tempo and close the first set with the lively and popular “Ciao Monday,” before exiting for the intermission.
Commencing the second set with a solo number, Emm picked up her guitar and returned to her “Girl Versions” material for her slower paced interpretation of the Def Leppard classic “Pour Some Sugar On Me.” The band would reappear during the applause, and while they took the time necessary to prepare for the next track, Emm would enlighten the audience with tales of how she recorded her first ‘independent’ “Science Fair” album right here on the shores of Lake Huron. Adding how she received an encouraging phone call about this decision from Gord Downie, the band would perform “Stereochrome” from this 1999 release.
After adding another new track (“Shadow Girl”), Emm told the tale of how she and astronaut Chris Hadfield collaborated on a cover version of the David Bowie hit “Space Oddity.” Of course, what made this unique was the fact that Chris was still aboard the International Space Station orbiting Earth at the time. To make this a monumental moment once again (sadly, Chris was not hiding in the wings), Emm invited three local high school students to join her on stage and share the vocal duties. Naturally a little shy at first, all three quickly found their confidence and worked wonderfully well with Emm’s lead to make this a magical moment that they will not forget. Kudos to Steve Clark for the perfectly timed ‘countdown’ during this one. Ending on this high note, the second set drew to a close’ the band gave their bows and exited the stage.
Emm would return briefly to sing a few lines from Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down,” (she had wanted to cover “Bobcaygeon,” but yielded to the demands of her sore throat). She and her band would crank it up for one last number though, sending everybody home with a rousing rendition of “Summerlong” from her “Public” album. Fighting off those cold symptoms all night, Emm Gryner successfully rocked the historic Kineto Theatre with a fantastic performance that was greatly appreciated by those in attendance. We are very grateful to Emm for the opportunity to chat following the show, and for having the good fortune to be introduced to her father too. Whether performing solo or with Trent Severn, we very much look forward to catching up with Emm Gryner again soon.
Emm Gryner Set List:
- A Mission
- Almighty Love
- Something Tells Me
- Math Wiz
- Straight To Hell
- Ciao Monday
- Pour Some Sugar On Me
- Shadow Girl
- Space Oddity
- I Won’t Back Down (Tom Petty Cover)