Over the Moon – May 28, the Redwood Theatre, Toronto
It was a gorgeous spring Sunday afternoon, and yet there we were, 50 people willing to sacrifice our sunshine to sit in a darkened hall listening to this fantastic band from Alberta.
Craig Bignell and Suzanne Levesque have been touring Canada in their 31-foot horse trailer for a few weeks now, doing gigs to promote their second CD, Chinook Waltz, which we reviewed here a year ago. Touring that CD took a back seat in the intervening year due to the lingering pandemic and Craig’s recovery from open heart surgery.
But now, they’re back, and we were very glad to hear their music again.
The concert began with a few more band members on stage this time. Craig and Suzanne, who we first saw as a duo a couple of years ago, were joined by three sidemen on pedal steel guitar, acoustic guitar, and finally clarinet for the last two pieces of the concert. It was a remarkable sound, quite different from that of the original duo.
A sixth band member, who was mostly sleeping behind the double bass, stole the show part way through the first set. Teak, the couple’s elderly hound, got up to greet audience members in the front row, but it wasn’t long before he was back to sleep behind the performers.
We heard great renditions of a selection of songs from both of the couple’s CD’s. “Over The Moon” was the first song that Suzanne and Craig wrote together after they met during a session. Then, they sang two wonderful songs written by their Longview, AB neighbour, Ian Tyson: “Moondancer” and “Someday Soon.”
Craig told a very funny story about how he was “too chicken” to tell Suzanne that he was falling in love with her just a few days after they met. He wrote a song he used to finally tell her how he felt. That song made it into the set list here. “You Don’t Even Know” is both funny and heartfelt.
Craig’s between-song patter is very funny. He uses his own brand of self-deprecating humour to make the show come alive.
“We thought we’d make everyone happy and sing a sad song,” he quipped, after relating a story about their experience of being in a songwriter’s circle at a music conference.
The songs continued. One of their best, “Lonesome Bluebird” features Suzanne’s incredible voice. You wish you could hear her sing forever. There was also an incredibly funny song that tried to find the best word or phrase that rhymes with “Texas.” Our favourite was “text us!”
The sounds of western swing were held for the end of the show when the clarinet joined the rest of the band. “They Can’t Black Out The Moon” was a song about a couple in England strolling in the blackout darkness during WWII, and Craig’s song “I’m Not Cool” celebrates his altered coolness status after getting together with Suzanne. It was all just lovely, and you could easily imagine dancing to this band with your sweetie, on a barn floor covered in straw.