Last night was one of those occasions where Dar and I had concert tickets for a show that I really could have passed on, but after seeing the show in person I am sure glad that I got to attend. Johnny Reid, for those of you stuck under a rock somewhere, is one of those classic entertainers that just defies categorization. He’s one part Johnny Cash, two parts Tom Jones with just a dash of Joe Cocker and Joe Walsh thrown in for fun. He’s not quite country, he’s not quite a crooner and definitely not all the way rock and roll but a wild Scottish/Canadian hybrid all of his own design. One thing is for sure though he’s one hard working man on a mission to make sure that every dollar spent in his name is one that he’s earned to the full.
The night opened with Canadian country songstress Carolyn Dawn Johnson doing a bare bones acoustic set. Her haunting lyrics and country philosophies speak to a life lived in search of love and family. The set really did showcase her singing, basically it was her and a backup steel guitar player and a room full of eager ears.
After a short intermission the houselights came down and Darlene and I were expecting another opening act but the booming horn section and pounding bass drum could only signal the arrival of Mr. Johnny Reid. The opening strains of Let’s Have a Party washed over the overwhelmingly over 40 crowd and got the audience dancing in their chairs if not in the aisles. At the end of the opening number pyro blasts boomed and confetti and streamer cannons let loose with a torrent of shiny red and gold party favors. Johnny said let’s have a party and apparently he meant it!
The confetti and streamers opening the show should have clued me into the fact that this wasn’t going to be an ordinary show. The third track of the evening Dancing Shoes had a very savvy Mr. Reid asking to see everyone’s dancing shoes. Ladies and men in the front of the house were literally scooping off their shoes and holding them aloft for Johnny to inspect. Then the impossible happened. Johnny climbed down into the sea of people and shoes and went for a walk. Microphone in hand he belted out the song while dancing with every blue haired woman, high-fiving every gentleman and kissing every child he could get to. For two full songs he marched though not only the floor but also into the stands. Holding out his arms to lady that wanted a dance or a kiss.
After his journey through the audience he slowed it down a little bit to explain his roots in Canada. Born in Lanark, Scotland the son of a diesel mechanic the family emigrated to Canada in hopes of a better life for their children. Johnny was only 13 at the time. In the lead-up to Kicking Stones he told of the family’s struggles and his honor at being able to perform for us. He said he knew the value of a hard earned dollar and I believed him. Besides his obvious talent Johnny Reid exudes honesty and humility.
This became very apparent when it looked like Johnny was about to go on another walkabout throughout the venue only to disappear back stage, the backup singers opening the song Right Where I Belong. Somehow Johnny had slipped through the crowd and appeared on a tiny satellite stage near center ice. The stage only stood maybe 4 or 5 feet above the audience so it was more handshakes and even little children being invited on the platform for a hug and a dance.
In all of my time as a concert goer have I seen a performer so willing to go that extra mile to make it a memorable evening for the fans. He even went so far to add an extra song for an elderly lady he had met back stage before the show. He introduced it as Thank You for my new good friend Mary. How many performers these days go that extra mile?
The ending of the show also proved to be spectacular, for an encore the whole band including Johnny Reid were decked out in Winnipeg Jets jerseys. Singing Till We Meet Again, yet another young lady was plucked from the audience to her squealing delight. The adorable youngster couldn’t have been more than 5 years old. Still clutching the streamers from the opening number she jumped and danced excitedly, no doubt earning Johnny Reid another fan for life. As Johnny left the stage he once again went above and beyond giving his Jets Jersey to the little girl with the streamers.
With sincerity and a voice like his you can expect Mr. Reid’s career to continue to light up the charts for years to come.
On a scale of 1-5, this concert deserves at least a 4 for the sheer enthusiasm and heart Johnny and his crew brought to the stage.
Since many of you may not be acquainted with Johnny Reid lets just sit back and have a look and listen to some of Johnny’s hits.
- Johnny Reid preview: ‘Yeah It’s All Right’ (canada.com)
- Johnny Reid is bringing the ‘Fire’ to Sudbury (sudburystar.com)
- Review: Johnny Reid, Fire It Up (canada.com)
- Singer-songwriter Reid keeps it real – for real (canada.com)