To be honest, I missed Richard Speight Jr and his country-twang-ballhat-wearin-jammin-on-guitar portion of the concert. And I missed Gil McKinney singing some song that dripped with so much silky sexiness that it makes one feel weak in the knees. Yes, I missed those guys.
But the Saturday Night Special, at any convention, is always about Stephen and Mike and Billy and Rob. And, as always, they delivered one helluva show in Vancouver this year.
They opened the show with “Reunion,” from their Sky Alive album. Then they played for us a new song, called “Present Time,” from their upcoming album. I don’t know who’s more excited for this new album to be released, the band or the fans. I know a few die-hard Swainers who would argue that they are more excited for its release than the band, that they need this new album like they need air to breathe. Yet as I sat there and listened to the guys play this new song, I am pretty sure they too are pretty excited about this new album and can’t wait to share it with us. And if I haven’t used the word pretty enough, then can I just say the boys of Louden Swain are just so freakin pretty? Yep, pretty. (insert sighs here)
(Side note: there is not an official release date yet. So I guess we’ll all just wait here then.)
Next up on the set list was Matt Cohen. He kept the night’s energy flowing with a cover of “Song 2.” Yes, that is actually the name of the song; it is not called ‘woo-hoo,’ but when Matt is on stage and singing and smiling and those eyes and those biceps and oh my chuck – All the Woo and All the Hoo and Woo-Hoo all night long.
After Matt’s song, and a brief incident with a guitar, aka “guitar gate,” Louden Swain played “Eskimo” from their album of the same name. And the woo-hoo and the jamming and the pretty just kept going!
Continuing with special guests, Rob next brought one of our beloved queens to the stage, the one and only Kim Rhodes. She sang “One Way or Another” for us. Yes, she absolutely rocked it. Yes, her outfit was sexyAF. But more than anything I am blown away by her courage to overcome her own fears and actually get up on that stage and sing for us. Let me literally sum that up for you: Kim + courage = Role Model AF.
The next song was “Silverspoon” from Louden Swain’s ‘A Brand New Hurt’ album. Joining them on stage to play bass guitar was Chris Schmelke. I love to watch Chris play almost as much as I love to watch him create his magic in the photo op room. I swear to chuck I’m not a creepy stalker, really… I’m just a mom with a camera and he’s like a freakin Jedi Knight Master Warrior King with a camera. Who also plays bass guitar. And rocks it.
Sebastian Roche joined the band next on stage. He covered David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust.” Now let’s be honest, everything Sebastian does is sexy. Yet his performance tonight was a little more low-key sexiness and more amped up on emotion. His cover was more of a tribute to the great Bowie, and it was quite moving.
Rob next brought to stage Creation’s own Stephanie Dizon to join them in singing “Crooked Wheel,” another Louden Swain original song from their album ‘Sky Alive.’ Stephanie has some pipes, I’m just sayin.
The keyboard intro to “Lose Yourself” is chilling, almost haunting. Keyboard played by Creation’s own Adam Malin, accompanied by Louden Swain, and sung by Osric Chau, the entire performance builds and builds and swells into a fierce cloud of sheer determination. And to see Osric in a suit and tie, and then he loosens the tie, and dayum, I believe it’s an opportunity of a lifetime and I’d better not blow it.
As if that momentum wasn’t enough… Now joining the stage was Mark Sheppard on drums, to accompany the uber-talented Briana Buckmaster. She covered “Love Interruption,” which she sang as a duet with Rob. The song is full of soulful vibes, a sensuous bluesy mix of emotion and lyrics and music. And of course, Briana nailed it. So when is she gonna record an album?!
Rob and the band slowed things down a bit with the next song, “Medicated,” from their album ‘A Brand New Hurt.’ It’s a slow song, and it’s one of my favorites, and yes, there are kazoos. As Rob said afterward, “Sing it loud and proud.”
Jensen Ackles was the next guest to join the band on stage to sing a duet with Rob. They sang “Fare Thee Well.” In the latter part of Season 11, Rob and Jensen often sang together between filming scenes. (sorry, spoiler?)
Jensen remained on stage but also brought out his long-time friend Jason Manns. Jensen, Jason, Mark, and the beautiful boys from the band performed a breathtaking version of Simple Man. Ok, who am I kidding… because Jensen. Jensen Ackles. Playing guitar. And singing. And soulful emotional oh-my-god-I-cannot-breathe singing. Here, have a few pictures because I cannot word right now.
Jensen’s version of “Simple Man” can be found on Jason’s ‘Covers with Friends’ album, which can be purchased on iTunes here https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/covers-with-friends/id1142354463 or here https://jasonmanns.bandcamp.com/album/covers-with-friends .
“Come Together” is another song from Jason’s new album… called ‘Covers with Friends’ which you can buy here https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/covers-with-friends/id1142354463 or here https://jasonmanns.bandcamp.com/album/covers-with-friends and I’m not even slightly bothered to shamelessly promote his album because its Jason-Freakin-Manns, people, go buy the album right now…
Sorry, I digress… With Mark on drums, and the beautiful boys of the band, Rob and Jason performed “Come Together” which you can buy on iTunes…
I’d like to take a moment to explain a little something about myself. I’m weird and I’m quirky and I tend to see things a little differently from the rest of, well, everyone, and that is, in part, because I see life through the lens of my camera. When I am shooting anything, there are so many things going on inside my weird quirky brain; things like shutter speeds and iso’s and metering and lighting and angles; and seeing the entire picture of what’s happening in front of me through the small view finder; and feeling every piece of action and emotion as it plays out in millisecond frames… And yet, I am often so completely focused on what is happening in front of me that all-too-often I become oblivious to what is happening around me… I can only hear the beating of the drums, or the undertone of the bass, or the quiet vocals panted into the microphone…
But sometimes, sometimes what I see through the lens makes me pause. And I have to take a step back. And then I can see what is actually happening around me.
During the performance of “She Waits,” someone orchestrated a very moving tribute to Rob, using mini light-up candles, lit and waving above their heads, through out the crowd, as he sang this emotionally charged song. I have seen this performance several times. I have watched him struggle through it before. But this time, it was a little different. Through my lens, I could see the expression on his face slowly changing. And then, there it was. Perfectly framed within my lens. That moment when Rob realized that those mini light-up candles waving in the crowd were for him, they were in support of him, they were small little lights of love and support for him.
No. I didn’t take that picture. Instead, I put the camera down and I watched Rob as he took in that moment. I watched as the love and support soaked into his body and covered him so completely. I watched as Billy and Mike and Stephen took it all in, and felt the outpouring of love and support, and continued to play the music as if to say ‘we’ve got your back, Rob.’ Maybe I should have taken that picture. But that moment was Rob’s moment. And it was beautiful.
And when the song ended, he did perhaps the only thing he could do… he raised his hands and formed a heart, to let us know that he loves us right back.
Rob and the band immediately followed up that emotional I’m-not-crying-you’re-crying moment with the super charged “Mamma’s Jam” and while I might have returned back inside my own little world, you can be damn sure that I was still dancing in my seat.
The band returned to stage for an encore performance of one of their new songs from their soon-to-be-released album, called “Amazing.” Afterwards, all of the celebrity guests returned to the stage to belt out “Purple Rain” together to close out the show.
Which brings me to my favorite shot of the night, Mr. Billy Moran nailing the guitar solo with so much passion and energy, and, yeah, #GuitarGod.
Special thanks to Lynn for giving me the opportunity to write this article.
Special thanks to Krista and Stefania for sharing their pictures for this article. You can find more of their amazing photography by following them on twitter: @kreespa and @s_verasani
Did I mention that you can buy Jason’s ‘Covers with Friends’ album here https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/covers-with-friends/id1142354463 or here https://jasonmanns.bandcamp.com/album/covers-with-friends .