Well, two of Canada's best were in town tonight as part of their Spirit of Christmas tour. Big Pond, Nova Scotia's, Rita MacNeil decided to hit the road, and she twisted the arm of 1970s pianist Frank Mills to end a 10 year retirement to join her.
Rita opened up with a solo set of Christmas tunes that she had written. She was accompanied by a backing band consisting of a bass guitar, acoustic guitar, drums, and keyboards. Then Frank hit the stage and gave us a series of medleys that included both classic Christmas tunes, and solo hits of his own, including his signature tune, Music Box Dancer. Then they closed the show together with a set of more classic Christmas tunes, including Silent Night and Joy to the World.
Among the standout performances were Rita's version of Amazing Grace, and Frank's only vocal hit, Love Me Love Me Love. For an encore, Rita sang her lone non-Christmas song of the night, her 1991 hit Working Man. Then the finale was a lovely version of Silver Bells with Frank on piano.
The show was at St. John's Arts and Culture Centre. I was seated at the back near the soundboard, which was quite interesting to see. I had a chat with one of the roadies there and managed to score a copy of the set list.
After the show, both artists met with fans for an autograph signing. I had a brief chat with both and advised Rita that she was meeting another native Nova Scotian.
Rita and Frank are touring in support of a new album that they have released together as a team, that consists of Christmas classics, as well as a few original compositions.