Heaven Coming Down: The Tea Party’s Black River Tour in Edmonton May 4, 2019

Jeff Martin The Tea Party Black River Tour May 4 2019

Well. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The Tea Party need to get permission to record U2’s With Or Without You, because holy hell that is a match made in heaven!  Their rendition is flawless. That voice and that song… just wow! The simplicity of Jeff Burrow’s tambourine at first accompaniment, then drums and Stuart Chatwood’s bass… Perfection!

Jeff Burrows The Tea Party Black River Tour May 4 2019
One of only two photos not blurry from the whirlwind that is Bam Bam, aka Jeff Burrows.

Yes, I am completely biased, an uber fan of both bands, but if the amount of screaming that took place when they broke into that song during Heaven Coming Down at the River Cree Casino on May 4th is any indication, I am not wrong in my sentiment. (I was expecting a Star Wars joke from the band, you know – “May the 4th be with us…” and oh man, but the force was with them for sure!)

Ok, if I’m honest, I’m not sure I could hear anyone over my own screaming in those first seconds of recognition, but as with the last time The Tea Party performed this mashup here in Enoch Alberta (near Edmonton), the crowd was enraptured and sang their hearts out!  (Yeahhhh… apologies to the person next to me who was recording and now has my voice captured on that song. :P)

Jeff Martin and Stuart Chatwood The Tea Party Black River Tour May 4 2019

I just need to take a minute here… a minute of reverence and gratitude and counting all the lucky stars as I write this post because there were TWO U2 songs at this concert. TWO!!! With or Without You in full and a guitar snippet and vocal of “How long, how long must we sing this song?” from Sunday Bloody Sunday. I think I almost self-combusted… The Tea Party and U2… Heaven really was coming down for me ❤ ❤ ❤

Jeff Martin The Tea Party Black River Tour May 4 2019

Actually, I have many lucky stars to count for this gig. Bonus U2 music aside, this concert was full of some of my most adored Tea Party songs – yes, Heaven Coming Down, but also Psychopomp, Save Me, Sister Awake, Temptation, The River, The Grand Bazaar – I mean, I’m pretty much listing the whole setlist.

Jeff Martin Winter Solstice The Tea Party Black River Tour May 4 2019

And then there were some other significant non-U2 covers: the Rolling Stones’ Paint It Black (which, by the way, The Tea Party’s version is my favourite version of this song, and that includes a stellar U2 recording) and two heart-breaking yet cathartic odes to fallen Rock Gods – Canada’s Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip (Bobcaygeon) and the still-painful David Bowie (Heroes).

Jeff Martin Guitar light bw The Tea Party Black River Tour May 4 2019

But more than this, there were two new Tea Party songs! The most recent release, for which the tour is named, Black River and the not-yet released Way Way Down. I am a huge fan of both these songs. The guitar riff on Black River is intense, hard, and soooooo good! I can’t help grooving with it, moving to it. Live, that riff is electric in my veins, pure energy.

Stuart Chatwood Bass Guitar The Tea Party Black River Tour May 4 2019

For Way Way Down, Jeff Martin asks us, do we have our phones out? And I’m thinking he’s gonna do that turn this place into a galaxy for one of their slower songs thing, maybe The Messenger, maybe he’s gonna break out Lanois’ I Love You (seriously, Jeff’s voice was made for Lanois-associated songs!) But no, he asks us to put down the phones for now because this song is so new and might suck… Ummm noooo, Jeff, that’s not possible.  Not gonna suck, and nope, didn’t suck.  It rocked!  I count my lucky lucky stars that we got new music, new non-sucky, completely awesome in the awe-inspiring and also really really good meaning of that word, live music.

Jeff Martin Violin Bow 2 The Tea Party Black River Tour May 4 2019

I count those stars for our vantage point for all this as well. My sister, my friend, and I had seats in rows 2 and 3 and the venue lets anyone from rows 1-3 stand between the stage barrier and the first row of seats. We were dead centre right on the rail. Sooooooo awesome! Close enough for some solid eye contact and a grin from JM as he kneeled in front of us. Close enough for him to warn us off mic that it was about to get loud. Close enough to forget everything but the band in front of me – my other boys. My Canadian boys.

Jeff Martin The Tea Party Black River Tour May 4 2019

And my boys were all in their finest of form. Stuart is a frickin musical guru – bass, keyboards, instruments I don’t know the name of, and all the soundscapes. I am very fond of bass players, the unsung heroes of music in many cases, and Stuart needs to be sung… This man is a bloody genius – his compositions for the Darkest Dungeon games are haunting, stunning! Like Game of Thrones, Lord of The Rings soundtrack epic.  And we get that epic-ness in The Tea Party.

Stuart Chatwood Bass The Tea Party Black River Tour May 4 2019

Jeff Burrows, JB, or “our very own Bam-Bam,” as JM introduced him at the River Cree Casino, lol… I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, JB is an amazing drummer to watch live (amazing all the time). The physicality and emotion he puts into his drumming is astounding, captivating, and pure joy.

The Tea Party Black River Tour May 4 2019

And then, you know, JM’s voice… I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, that man could sing me the telephone book. But no, instead, he sings me U2 songs… still dying here… And new songs. And Bowie… Sigh. That timbre, that tone, the emotion. Just sigh.

Jeff Martin BW The Tea Party Black River Tour May 4 2019

I do so love everything about this band. The music, these boys, the world music influences, the political/social statements- this time regarding the gun violence experienced in New Zealand and elsewhere just recently… Now there’s a “How long, how long must we sing this song?” topic if there ever was one… Ok I’m not gonna rant here, I’ll just say I deeply appreciate when those with voices use them, and this band does.

Jeff Martin Perspective The Tea Party Black River Tour May 4 2019

Man, what a show!  I think this might be my favorite Tea Party gig that I’ve been to.  It was so good!  They are sooooo good live! I’m a little sad I didn’t make the effort to go to the Calgary show as well the day before… Though I would have had to try to jump on their tour bus to make it back to Edmonton on time 😛

Oh well, I think JM did say a new EP was soon to come and that they would be back in town in a year (eeeeeeee!!!!!!!) so I will just have to be patient (and also hope to some day see them live in Australia).

Stuart Chatwood Keyboard The Tea Party Black River Tour May 4 2019

And in the meantime, I will finish counting all the lucky stars that one of the roadies gave me JM’s setlist 😀 I do love getting stage memorabilia!

Setlist The Tea Party Black River Tour Edmonton May 4 2019

For more photos from the night, check out my Gallery.

 

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