The newly named First Ontario Concert Hall in Hamilton formerly Hamilton Place Theatre was only about 1/2 way full when The River Town Saints hit the stage and to be honest it was unfortunate that more people weren’t here to see them. This band should be on your radar in the coming months because I don’t think you will have an opportunity to see them in a smaller venue after this. The people that were in attendance made up for the lack of bodies, their screaming voices carried through the theatre as if it was full. They were only on stage for approx 30 minutes and made the most of the opportunity they had, they engaged the audience asking them to sing with them and even getting the LD to turn up the house lights so they could see their fans. River Town Saints made sure to thank the Canadian country music fans which is always a sure fire hit with the Canadian audience.
The First Ontario Concert Hall was now at almost capacity by the time Jason Blaine hit the stage and the fans were there to “Rock it Like A Country Girl”. Just about everyone in attendance was on their feet, dancing in their seats to his songs “On A Night Like This” and “Back To You”. Jason did ask for the house lights to be turned on for a minute then exclaimed “Wow we have a full house here tonight. Thank you so much Hamilton, God Bless” There was one thing I noticed is that there was no fancy lighting and no stage props to be seen just one backdrop that said Jason Blaine. Sometimes you don’t need anymore than that, just the music to focus on, which was the case tonight. Jason also made a point of thanking everyone for his song that just hit one million views “They Don’t Make Em Like That Anymore” which he explained was about his grandparents. Congrats Jason, one million views is something to be proud of! On a personal note I would like to say how nice of a person Jason is. I had the opportunity to shoot his meet and greet at The Lucknow Music Festival and he was one of the kindest artist I have ever had the chance to meet. Nothing quite like seeing an appreciative artist interact with their fans.
Now on to Tim Hicks shaking the walls out of the First Ontario Concert Hall which is exactly what he did. He walked out on a dimly lit stage and all the fans saw was just a silhouette of Tim and they went crazy. The cell phones immediately went into the air trying to take pictures and videos of their favourite artist. I wouldn’t have expected anything less from this almost home town crowd, nothing quite like seeing a homegrown artist come back home after they have “made it”.
I am going to be perfectly transparent with this review and let you know that it will be a 100% biased review. Yes you read that right biased, only because of the fact that I have known Tim for 20+ years (sorry Tim I am aging both of us) and it is amazing to see someone that I used to watch in tiny dive bars across Ontario playing on the bigger stages. Which Tim actually made mention of during his set saying “You guys are so much fun here in Hamilton. I use to play in a ton of bars here in Hamilton.. (mentions bar names)…, Turtle Jacks, I got fired from there thanks Turtle Jacks” to which got a huge boo followed by laughter by the almost capacity crowd.
Tim had some help shaking the walls when he decided it was a great time to kick huge beach balls into the already riled up audience, to which got a great response from them. Everyone loves trying with all their might to reach one of these beach balls only to find out that someone behind them is much taller and gets to hit it to someone else in the crowd. Tim wasn’t alone on stage for long, he invited Jason Blaine back on stage to sing “Got A Feeling” and this gave the audience another opportunity to put their cell phones back in the air to record the two singing together. There was even a “sing off” and the band decided stage right was the loudest in the concert hall. Some lucky fans didn’t go home empty handed however, Tim and Jason threw out t shirts and newly designed hats to a lucky few in the crowd.
It wasn’t all fun and games at this concert though. The audience was given the opportunity to get cosy with one another while Tim sang “She Don’t Drink Whiskey Anymore” and “Slide Over” to which he explained was about his loving wife.
After they left the stage the fans cried for more and of course he left “Stronger Beer” for his encore not surprisingly, and it very quickly it turned into a sing along. I am almost positive the fans singing was louder than Tim and his band. This sing along was followed by Tim exclaiming “No one up here wants to build a wall” which got the loudest cheer of the night.
Once again thanks to the crew because without them there is no show!