It is well known that Team GDW has a strong bond with The Sanderson Centre in Brantford, ON.  Retuning once again to this wonderful venue, we chose to spend our Black Friday in the company of the Newfoundland folk duo, The Fortunate Ones.  Having previously purchased and enjoyed their debut “The Bliss” album (see review here), we had been looking forward to this evening from the moment it was announced.  Being a much smaller performance for a venue of this stature, the show took place as an intimate gathering in the lobby (I was initially unsure of how this would impact the show, but it worked perfectly).  Those in attendance would be rewarded with two sets of music from this duo, along with an encore that could not fail to encourage audience participation.

Both Catherine Allan (keyboards/accordion/percussion/vocals) and Andrew James O’Brien (guitar/kick drum/vocals) received a very warm welcome when introduced to the stage, and caught me completely by surprise when launching immediately into their title track and popular radio hit “The Bliss.”  Following this tune, the duo conversed with the audience to acknowledge that they were familiar with the Wayne Gretzky connection to Brantford, and joked that they had considered changing their band name to ‘The Great Ones’ for this evening alone.  One audience member did respond that ‘we are the fortunate ones here.’

From their debut album, the duo would follow with both “Solitary Sparks” and “I’d Wait For Anyone Who Would Wait For Me,” before offering the first of several cover versions, the 2003 Ron Hynes classic “No Change In Me” (and notably the third time in the last few months that we’ve heard a Canadian artist opt to perform a Ron Hynes song).

With their recently released EP of holiday music, The Fortunate Ones had no intentions of turning this into a Christmas show per se, but what better time to share just a little with the audience as we headed into the remaining days of November.  Catherine would take advantage of playing the Sanderson Centre’s grand piano whilst sharing vocal duties with Andrew for one of their new holiday tunes, “This Empty Street.”  To further tie in the holiday theme, the duo would close the first set with an incredible version of The Pogues/Kirsty MacColl holiday classic, “Fairytale Of New York.”

After a brief intermission, The Fortunate Ones returned for their second set, and opted to commence with another popular track from the debut album, “Wherever You Go.”  Andrew would announce that the next track (“Runaway”) was a brand new composition, co-written with Hey Rosetta’s Tim Baker.  “It is a Tim Baker tune,” joked Andrew, “It had 10 verses that make little sense, but he dumbed it down for us.”  Other fresh material would be incorporated into this set, such as the brand new “Before You,” which Andrew wrote for an ungrateful brother’s wedding gift; and “On The Radio,” an ‘old-new song’, written by Andrew long before The Fortunate Ones formed.

Catherine would not shy away from the spotlight, and knocked out an amazing track titled “Airline Plane.”  Adding in a couple more ‘seasonal’ numbers, the duo would end on a high, cranking out their popular hit “Lay Me Down” (which always draws instant comparisons to the sound of Harrow Fair, at least to me).  Embracing their well-deserved ovation, Catherine and Andrew took their bow and bid the audience a good night.

Well, this may have been an intimate gathering, and the set list that I could see just in front of where I was sitting had no encore track listed, but the energetic response from this room was more than enough to lure both artists back out for one more impromptu number.  As Catherine once again picked up her accordion, she announced that they were going to perform a cover version of a popular Newfoundland tune.  And with just those few opening notes of the Great Big Sea hit, “Ordinary Day,” not only did The Fortunate Ones succeed in raising the energy level off the dial, they welcomed everybody to simply “join in if you know the words” to this very popular tune.  Capping an exceptional night of music with this lively number, I imagine that the Sanderson Centre staff will need to check the venue for signs of structural damage, given that Catherine and Andrew brought the house down on this Friday night.

With a few more dates remaining on their tour schedule, Team GDW strongly recommend catching a show if you can.  And for select dates in early 2018, The Fortunate Ones will be touring as the support act for the ‘Prince of Newfoundland’ himself (credit to Donovan Woods for the title), former Great Big Sea vocalist Alan Doyle.

It was delightful to meet the duo following the show, and to share stories.  With the next full length album being in the final stages of production, we cannot wait to hear more from Catherine and Andrew, and definitely plan to catch up with them again when they tour to promote the new material.  Thanks also to them for recommending another musical act to us – we are very much liking what we hear thus far.
The Fortunate Ones Set List:

  1. The Bliss
  2. Solitary Sparks
  3. I’d Wait For Anyone Who Would Wait For Me
  4. No Change In Me (Ron Hynes cover)
  5. This Empty Street
  6. Lovesick Blues (Hank Williams cover)
  7. Northern Star
  8. Fairytale Of New York (The Pogues/Kirsty MacColl cover)
  9. Wherever You Go
  10. Runaway
  11. On The Radio
  12. Before You
  13. Maybe This Christmas (Ron Sexsmith cover)
  14. What We Got
  15. Airline Plane
  16. Lay Me Down

Encore:

  1. Ordinary Day (Great Big Sea cover)

~ M

Visit The Fortunate Ones’ website.

Listen to “The Bliss” on Spotify.