I had a perfect evening on Wednesday.
My friend (and voice teacher) and I went to see the Finnish a capella ensemble Rajaton perform at the Festival Vancouver.
First, we went to the Shaughnessy Restaurant at Van Dusen Gardens. We sat on the patio overlooking an enclosed and exceedingly beatiful garden complete with cherubic water fountain. A perfect setting. We ate wild greens, wild salmon and had a bellini. A perfect meal. Afterwards, we wended our way to the stage through more beautiful gardens, managed to convince some people to squoosh over so we sat about 5 rows in from the stage, just a little right of centre. Perfect seating. The weather was also perfection — sunny and warm, with a hint of breeze.
Then we had almost two hours of concert with this a capella 6-member group — I cannot emphasize the a capella part of it enough — who by turns entertained, amazed, and ultimately transported us with their sense of humour, their mastery of their craft, and simply the sound and harmonies that they create. The only sound they make that isn’t their voice is the occasional clapping or snapping, the bass sometimes taps his chest or microphone to aid in the sound effects he is making, and sometimes the sound mixer adds a re-verb or echo to their voices. That’s it. Every percussion, string or wind instrument (including Irish bagpipes) is made with the voice.
And they sing everything–folk, classic, pop, rock, and even some original material. Like their name suggests, (Rajaton means boundless in Finnish), they do not restrict themselves to one genre.
This is my favourite of their songs:
This is more what they are like in performance (although they didn’t do this particular number) :
I was utterly astonished with their bass, Jussi Chydenius. He can sing lower than I think I have ever heard a human being sing, (yes, including Bowser from Sha Na Na–remember them?). He did a vocal drum solo at the beginning of Fernando (yes, that ABBA song) that was virtually indistinguishable from the real thing.
It was great to see 1500 people out to see an a capella group. I mean really, how often does a vocal group get treated like rock stars?
Anyway, I cannot sing their praises high enough. If you have a chance, go see them in concert. Or, support them by buying an album or three.
And, if for some reason, Rajaton chances upon this entry–thank you for giving me a perfect evening. (And, I’ll just put it out there, if you ever need a replacement because one of the ladies is out with a sore throat or something, I’m there for you).
Sha-Na-Na was the very first act in the infamous Rock Festival to end all Rock Festivals: Woodstock.
And the last time an a capella group was treated like rock stars was the last time The Nylons performed at Malkin Bowl, which was… 1994 I think… and they were also there in the summer of 1983 and a recording ended up on their Up On the Roof album, and my parents and I are in the screaming crowd… somewhere.
How can you tell I’m avoiding editing a book…?