Reports on the Indoor Garden Party in Newfoundland

from March 2012

ed note: Re Videos of the second Indoor Garden Party show. I understand people were asked not to video the second show via signs at the door as they came in. Please not not send me any videos - your own or from YouTube. I will not post them on this site, nor offer any links to them. Thanks. - Reports, however, are VERY welcome. E mail me with yours

From Gayle-Lynne:

I walked to the customs /passport official August 3, 2011 and handed him the form on which was noted my stay in Canada would be 1 ½ days.   He looked at that and said “only a day and a half?” Then he asked me” if I was there for business or pleasure. “  I told him “pleasure—I am attending a concert. “  He asked me which one –I told him it was the Russell Crowe/Alan Doyle concert. He smiled and said—oh yes—that should be a good one—but a hard to get ticket. “    I had just arrived in St. Johns , New Foundland, Canada.

It had taken a bit of effort to get there. When the tickets went on sale earlier in the month of July –I called the box office 25 minutes too soon (darn 4 ½ hour time difference) and was told to call back. I did and never got through and could not get it on line.  Though I had checked on line occasionally after that—I was resigned that I would be missing the concert. However about two weeks prior to the concert—I was reading some of the discussion of the upcoming concerts on Crowes Crossing – a discussion board community I have a affiliation with. One entry caught my eye. Someone was offering extra tickets for sale on behalf of local people who could no longer attend the concert. Since this person was a fellow Crowe fan and not a ticket scalper—I took the chance and contacted her. Then I had the angst of having my primary e-mail account down for awhile.  Ultimately though –was able to make the arrangements with her, the airlines, get lodging –and so I was on my way. Fortunately I had not cancelled the time off for those days.  

When I arrived in St. John’s two of my friends (from Crowes Crossing) who were already there—Cat and Ro –were at the concert for that evening. When they returned Cat called me—and told me about the wonderful evening with the concert and seeing Russell and Dani afterwards.

The next evening 8/4/11 ,we went together to the concert.  The LSPU hall sits on the end of what looked like a residential street.  It is at least 100 years old, and over the years has been used for a variety of purposes.  Before the concert started I bought a CD of the Crowe- Doyle songbook 3 on sale in their lobby. 

Once the house was opened for the audience –I found my seat –it was located on the floor –far stage left. There was one more row in front of me. Behind me the seats rose—and on one side there was a balcony area.  The stage itself was floor level.  It was decorated with a large cloth on the back wall. On the stage floor, bushes were in place  with fancy benches on three sides. It really looked like we were in a garden or a park. Closer to the audience there were amps and a keyboard which was stage right.  Down near our seats –there was a exit door to right. The cloth was used to project some images during some of the songs. . This setting as far as I was concerned was ideal.  

Two local ladies sat on my right and they were local fans of Russell’s.  They were unhappy that there was a row of seats in front of us.  (These seats were for VIPS and other special guests)  The ladies were not unhappy for long.

Russell and Alan came out of that side door right in front of us.  They went to the center of the stage and started talking with each other and with the audience. They were talking about various  things , and they told us they were waiting for the show to start as well. It was quite enjoyable banter.

Eventually Scott Grimes came out. Russell walked up the aisle next to me,  into the middle of the audience, and Scott followed. Scott sang the American national anthem as if he was using a faulty PA  System. It was funny, well done, and truthfully I did not find it disrespectful. Then Russell asked were there any Americans in the audience. I raised my arms (Like John Nash in ABM) and screamed yes.  Scott then ran down to me – told me he wanted to hug me—I stood up—we hugged for awhile. He even got a kiss on the cheek. Then Russell made a comment about “Americans and then there are normal people.”  I took it for the teasing which would mark the rest of the evening.

They also sang a anthem for New Foundland—and all came together on the stage to sing “Oh Canada.”  That was very popular with the local audience. After that Russell went to the door they had come out of and turned to one of the ladies to my right and asked her to answer the door when he knocked. Between that close encounter and the show so far—the ladies no longer complained.

Later on he came back through another door and teased the lady he had spoken to about not answering his knock —but then told her anyone who had been in her seat that night would have been part of the gag.

There were so many moments of humorous teasing between the performers and with us. When Dani first came out – after greeting Alan – she turned to Russell who introduced himself to her as “ Hello, I am Russell”.  It got a laugh from the audience. Russell teased Alan about his innocent encounter with a hooker in King’s Cross a red light section of Sydney, Australia. ( I laughed a lot about that –as when I visited Sydney last Fall – our first hotel was near Kings Cross –and we walked from the train at Kings Cross to our hotel over the days were were there.) Before Dani came out—Alan gave a mock complaint to Russell of : Now we are going to sing yet another song about your wife? “ There were many other moments.

 Some were not always in good taste:  One was when Russell was talking about a deceased friend and decided to do an imitation and asked us if this would be in bad taste—he then promptly went to lie down on his back like a corpse. Dani shook her head and told him “it was in bad taste. “  The audience loved it. (her reaction)  

Each performer had a chance for a solo. Kevin Durand did a very funny “Crazy Song”rap.   Scott did a solo number which was so good, and he sang it so well—all of us – including Russell and Scott’s other friends gave him a standing and loud ovation. Dani as always was excellent. The two Irish gentlemen from Size 2 Shoes  were very interesting. Besides song –they were capable of being their own musical instruments just with their voices. Russell’s solo later in the show was the only time he picked up a guitar.

Besides the solo moments there were excellent moments of 2-3 voices or more singing together. For most of the songs. Alan played guitar.   Scott and later Dani played Keyboards.

After the National Anthems  we heard familiar songs of “ Raewyn”   and “Weight of A Man. “  We heard many of the songs from the new CD.   I loved the “Killing Song.  “Reminds me of something associated with Ben Wade.  “ Queen Jane”  a lovely folk type song about Queen Jane Seymour who died in childbirth. “Sadness of a Women” I really loved.    Later in the show they did play “Hit the Ground and Run”. Last time I heard it live—it was at a Great Big Sea Concert. It was so much fun – at both concerts. I liked so many of the other songs. Mothers Cross sung by Alan was somber but beautiful for me. 

A very special moment occurred during one of the songs when Dani and Russell danced together in each others arms. It definitely appealed to our audience.

I loved everything I heard for one reason or another. I loved the staging. I loved the songs in which more then one person sang together. I loved the fact that Dani is finally not just at a concert with Russell but sharing the music with him.   I loved the humor.  I really felt like all of us were sharing moments with those on stage in the middle of a garden. Some of that sharing was definitely experienced when the audience was involved in some of the songs—clapping hands, standing for some, etc: The conclusion and the bow the performers took was very very well received.  I love it when the chemistry on stage clicks with the audience.

I have to say that since Russell’s TOFOG  days , I love the way his music has evolved. Although TOFOG music could appeal to all ages—I think the music now really does appeal across the board. It is more complex and yet in some ways simple. I love the way the voices mesh now.  I think the writing partnership of Crowe and Doyle works very well.

 I also loved this concert for other reasons: 1:  we could sit down –and stand only if we wanted to. 2: There was none of the seize and hold your position against any costs that was experienced at TOFOG concerts. No chance for the attitude that the spot you were in was your God given right. God help an intruder. So it was far more enjoyable. 3: No warm up act except the people you came to see. 4: you could see how close the friendship was between all the folks on stage.  It was a good feeling and it made the music even more special.  

I wish every Crowe fan who wanted to be there could have been. This concert was so good and fun. The talent was evident. I know not everyone in the audience was a Crowe fan—but everyone in the audience seemed to have a fantastic time.  I hope a similar format will be enjoyed in the future.

Post Script:  I did not get to see Russell and Dani after the show. I did have some things for them—but there will be another time. We did briefly see CGee. I flew from St. John’s in the fog, on the same plane , the next day to the USA, with Kevin Durand, Scott Grimes’ mom Pam, and Size 2 Shoes. We chatted at the airport and saw each other in passing on the plane. All in all 1 ½ days and the expense but all worth it.

From CGee:

Here’s all I can think of to write about the shows. More observations than anything else.


It’s a dreary, foggy morning here in St. John’s as we head home after a couple of great Garden Parties! I loved the concept, good friends sitting around, enjoying each other’s company and singing songs. The evening was just that; a mixture of funny and poignant stories, a bit of goofing around and a variety of great music!

Here are some impressions from the concerts:

  • It was great to see Russell on stage again after so long! It was fun just to see him in his element, singing his songs and enjoying himself.
  • Dani was a revelation! I saw her perform live back in 2001 and to me she sounds stronger and so self-assured. She was totally at home singing in their “three voice folk group” and I found myself at times more focused on her voice when they were on stage together. Someone made a comment after the show that they wished she had sang another song of her own and I think it was because her voice is so unique, it makes you want to hear more.
  • Alan Doyle is an amazing songwrither/musician/singer, full stop. He carried the heavy lifting of musical accompaniment with aplomb and boundless energy.
  • Size2shoes were delightful, very different and a lot of fun to see. I loved their harmonies.
  • Scott Grimes is an incredible singer in performance. Blew the roof off the house.
  • Kevin Durand was very funny in his rap about a crazy relationship.

My song highlights:

  • Highway Patrolman – off Springsteen’s ‘Nebraska’ album and Russell made it his own. Love the song and his rendition really hit at the heart of the narrative.
  • Where I Belong – Alan’s rendition gave me goosebumps, especially knowing what it meant to so many in the audience.
  • Mother’s Cross- sung beautifully by Alan but Russell’s introduction about what it meant to him to write this poem that became a song for his friend’s mum was very touching. I had the pleasure of meeting Margaret Kelly over the years and she was a lovey woman.
  • Perfect in Your Eyes – I like the way Russell and Alan musically introduced Dani with a couple of the songs they wrote about Russell and Dani’s longtime relationship. A song with a lot of layers and meaning.
  • Angel Of The Cross – a sad song with funniest introduction of the night.
  • Sadness Of A Woman and Killing Song – loved the way Dani’s voice and body language portrayed the lyrics of these songs. I couldn’t take my eyes off her.
  • Disappeared – intense lyrics, I’m fascinated by this song.

I’m always intrigued to hear the genesis of a song, particularly if I’ve followed the singer/songwriter for a number of years. All the music in this songbook adds another piece to the puzzle of why Alan and Russell write the songs that they do. In writing about something meaningful there is such a better chance that it will resonate with the listener on any number of levels.

What made these shows so much fun was the vibe of camaraderie and amity that you couldn’t help but feel between everyone on stage and equally obvious was the respect they had for each other’s musical talent. I’m sure making these shows happen with everything else going on in their lives was stressful but you would never have suspected it. The easy rapport between everyone on stage allowed the audience to feel that they were just part of their circle, sitting in a garden on a lovely night listening to friends play their music.

From Ro - Part 1: Here's the first part of my report from St. John's. Hope you find it acceptable !!

I arrived in St. John's about 1 pm on Wednesday. I grabbed a taxi and a short 15 minute trip later  was neatly deposited at the Courtside Marriott, which had a fabulous view straight out the Narrows to the sea. Cat had gotten in the night before and was waiting for me in the lobby. I only had a thumbnail avatar pic to go by but recognized her immediately . We both screamed WaaaaaaaaaaaHHH and had a big hug ! We went upstairs so I could dump my suitcase. Our room  faced the Narrows and we had a splendiferous view of the container pier and the fog blanketing the hills. St. John's is not a "glamourous" city but it was all good in our state of mind !

Then it was off to explore the downtown, which (and I simplify ) is basically three streets parallel to the shoreline and about a mile or less in length. We were on the highest street and to the east end of the city. So we strolled westward browsing through gift shops and a wonderful chocolate shop. Here we were told they had made Russell and Alan truffles in honor of the shooting of Republic of Doyle. Alas, they had all sold out of the truffles. I teased the young shop assistant that they should have made a thousand - he sadly agreed but did pass on that a customer had seen Russell half an hour earlier .We pricked up our ears at this and prowled on a few more blocks ; almost everywhere we turned we could hear conversations about "Russell…..Alan….". They really were the "talk of the town".

Only two blocks further on we came to a side street heading down to the water , a street barrier and a handsome young man guarding it with a headset. He politely asked people not to take pics. We hung around the corner for a few minutes. I was just saying "We ought to look for Rabbitohs caps !" when who should walk up the hill towards up but Mickey ! We squawked  and he turned down an alley. The next minute he came out again with Russell and Alan and they walked back down the hill and around the corner where we could see lights and camera gear. We hurried to the next side street where there wasn't a barrier , hurried down it and found the set. There was scaffolding on the corner and I couldn't see much, but could hear calls of "Action". They shot only a minute or two, then the director called "Cut! That's a wrap for Russell Crowe". The crew applauded and I could catch a glimpse of Russell shaking hands and exchanging hugs.  Then he walked away to another side street going further down the hill. We strolled casually and elaborately to the top of THAT side street and saw a trailer and a dark green SUV. A few minutes later Russell came out of the trailer, got in the passenger seat of the SUV and it drove slowly up the hill to the small crowd on the corner. As he passed us, he had the window down and his arm leaning on the sill. He fluttered his fingers Hello, called out "Thanks !" and drove off.

Cat and I turned to each other and did a high five. The other people around us all had shining , excited eyes and were buzzing happily.

We strolled around more, found a great restaurant for supper and arrived at the LSPU at 7:15. We went upstairs to the theatre about 7:50 but the show was 10 minutes or so late. It was FABULOUS, and very much "An evening with Russell Crowe and Friends." It's a small and intimate setting. Russell and Alan appeared first . Russell announced that, as this was a cross- cultural event, we would start by singing the national anthems of Newfoundland ( this went down VERY well with the locals!), Canada and Australia. He said he knew the words to Oh Canada because he'd filmed FTM, MA and CM here. Everyone stood up and sang lustily. Then he introduced Scottie and announced he would do his party trick - singing the Star Spangled Banner as if in a stadium with a bad sound-system.  It was a hoot and had the audience in stitches. I'm pretty sure I've heard Scottie do this but I can't find a YouTube video of it and it must have been on a chat show. Russell took Scottie up in the audience for this one , and sat on the aisle step while Scottie did his thing. Must have been a real shock for whoever he sat next to !

Then Scottie went off stage. Russell picked up a guitar and strummed and sang a deliberately loud and raucous Aussie folksong about an old sheep-shearer as a substitute national anthem, as Waltzing Matilda was "too depressing". This was met by a rather bemused audience, who as yet were mostly unfamiliar with him, his true voce  and his sense of humour.
Then he spoke about the stories behind Raewyn and he and Alan sang it. When they finished, we heard a lady behind us breath softly "wow....!" .

Alan did a solo, during which Russell left the stage. When he returned, he spoke at length of a friend first introducing him to Dani. He told the friend he had just let him in for a world of hurt, because he knew he had met the girl who would be his wife.Then he spoke of working with her on the set of The Crossing, and how, when shooting finished, he went to her hotel room that night with a marker pen and wrote a poem on her door. Then he drove back to Sydney smashed, not something he actually now recommends! This was the intro to Perfect in Your Eyes.

Alan said that it was time they stopped talking about his beautiful wife and brought her out . When she arrived  Alan quipped "'s the real thing between you two, eh?" Russell replied "Well, you aren't really committed until the seventh child". Dani, standing between them, had been bending over picking up and cracking open her bottle of water. She straightened , turned and just gave him a looooong look. He turned to the audience and waved his arms beseeching support. The audience cracked up.

They sang most of the latest songs. Angel of the Cross is an Alan story about him seeing a beautiful woman at King's Cross in Sydney. He told Russell about her and Russell said she was probably a prostitute. There is a reference to Alamein in the song. Russell explained that there is a fountain at King's Cross commemorating the Battle of El Alamein, a Sahara tank battle in World War II; many Australians died in it "And so did members of the Newfoundland Regiment, Alan told me " , he added. I think by then the audience was just about ready to adopt him as an honorary Newf !


Ro - Part 2:

I have forgotten to mention that Size2Shoes came on earlier to sing an Irish lament in Gaelic. They  said they first had met Russell when he came to Ireland with Alan for the Richard Harris statue unveiling. He asked for a choir and got them ! Interestingly they have just finished recording an album in New York, for which Russell was executive producer.They returned now to do another song .Alan performed His Mother's Cross, then Dani returned and did a solo at the keyboard; it was End of Story, from Calling All Magicians. Scottie and Kevin came on ; Scotty did a song from his album, "Clear to the Ocean", which Russell and Alan (I think) wrote for him. and earned a standing ovation. The others were sitting on park benches around the stage (which was NOT raised) . Scottie built up to a big high note - he nailed it and Russell and Kevin turned to each other and did a high five. Cute.

They finished with Beautiful Girls and everyone returned for Man in the Middle , which really raised the roof and got the whole audience on their feet swaying and clapping . The encore was Molly Malone.

After, Cat and I hung around for an hour -first outdoors in a narrow alley and then, as it was drizzling, back in the lobby. The bar eventually closed and did its float, so we decided to move outside again. This time there were three local girls waiting by the alley; we were still the only TOFOG ones ! Suddenly a SUV pulled up and before we could react Mr. Happy ( my nickname for the bald, bespectacled, large and forbidding security guy) came down the alley . He walked towards me and I obligingly tried to dodge out of his way but with a telephone pole next to me only succeeded in stepping INTO it. He stopped a foot away and said in a totally neutral voice "You are. Where. We. Want. To. Go ". I squeaked in submission and hastily skipped to the side; by now I could peer AROUND him and realized Russell, Dani, Kevin and Alan were all in his wake. The three local girls literally surrounded Russell and asked for autographs. I could see Cat, in the background, was speaking to Dani. I waited till the others had finished and then asked Russell if he would mind signing my copy of "Far Side of the World" and handed it to him. He said, in his best honeyed whisky voice "Ah, Aubrey!" ( "Could I trouble you to pass the salt?") and did so. I also thanked him for knowing the words to Oh Canada; he looked a bit bemused by that and I added "We all appreciate it". I probably sounded like a complete doofus ! By now he had changed back to the familiar track suit gear. He posed for a picture with two of the other girls but  he looked tired and I knew he had had a long day filming so I didn't even think to ask for a pic.. He moved to the SUV and asked the security guy "Where's Dani?" She was back near the alley still talking animatedly to Cat. The security guy raced back to get her and as she passed me I said "Thank you - it was a fantastic show" She reached back and gave my arm a little shake and smiled "Oh, thank you !!". What a sweetie she is.

Thursday Night

The playlist was the same as the first night.

At the beginning, RC said he had taken Tenny out that day for a walk to Signal Hill ( quite a stiff walk!).When he got back, Dani asked how the walk was. Tenny replied glumly "It was TERRIBLE. I walked part of the way and Dad carried me and I counted to 40 but there was more. And I can only count to 40 !" Russell added ruefully, "Now I've terrorized my son !"

Russell described his first unwary bike ride out to Petty Harbour the weekend before, where Alan's family lives. Apparently it's very hilly and was very demanding. He shook his head in weary defeat and the audience oooo'ed in recognition and sympathy.

He added 'And then I got to ...what's it called ? The Brow?"

"OOOoooOOOooo, yes !" cooed the audience, nodding their collective head .

"As Alan says, it's uphill both ways and the wind is in yer face the whole time!"
Universal laughter.

"Then we had pan-fried cod with Alan's parents".

Universal approval. (This is not yer average Hollywood Superstar, B'y !) The first night Russell told the story of Al's first day on set for Robin Hood. It's the same story he told on Hitbox McSweeney last year, about Alan's first day of filming , doing three takes and dropping the arrow each time. The audience howled, and poor Alan retreated abashed to the back of the stage.

The second night,however, Al was boasting to Russell about all the famous people he had met , including Will and Kate at the recent Canada Day celebrations when GBS played at Ottawa - with a " top THAT ! " flounce at Russell. He rebuted with the Prince Andrew story, again from RH, of Andrew visiting the night shoot in Windsor Great Park , and how he tossed the flaming log at Andrew. Then he and Al had a mutual "Nyah" at each other.

When Dani first came on, she went straight over to Alan on the left; they hugged and kissed, leaving Russell comically groping and pawing the air. Eventually she turned back to him and he introduced himself " Good evening - I'm Russell". She chuckled at him.

She seems very fond of Alan and always watched him very intently for the song intros and guitar breaks . But Alan complained once to Russell " All these songs about Dani...How come we never do any songs about MY Missus?", and waggled his eyebrows - which he is VERY good at doing!

During the guitar break of Too Far Gone she and Russell both swayed in time at their mikes, then moved together and slowly waltzed for several beats to the audience's delight. Then they broke off with a flourish and returned to their mikes in time to pick the song back up. We all went "OoooOooo".

We waited outside again at the side alley, as GayleLynn had several things she wanted to pass on to RC and Dani. Eventually Mr. Happy came out and told another small group that " they all left out another back door". We didn't actually believe this as we couldn't see another back door available, and being set in the side of a hill there was not even a loading bay.. One of the other girls told us something about Mr Happy apparently being NOT happy because the night before The Talent had been " bombarded" when they came out. That made us snort too, as there had only been , at MOST, 6-7 people there.

Shortly after, a dark red extended SUV drew up and Mickey came out of the theatre with some packages and put them in. Then the SUV left. A trim middle-aged woman with a waist battery pack and a microphone had been lingering nearby and she now approached us and the other three women and asked for comments. Well, the other three women, who all appeared to be local, had something to say about Russell's perceived disregard for his fans. They complained that several encounters with him had resulted in requests for no pictures. She turned to us and asked if we had anything to add, and of course we jumped in and said quite vehemently that our experiences were quite the contrary, and gave lengthy examples. The other three women glowered when we pointed out that almost all locale filming , if they were referring to the Republic of Doyle shoot, asked bystanders not to take photographs, and if the Crowes were out with their children, what did the women expect ? We had been Crowe fans for some 11 years and between us  had many personal and happy encounters.The reporter asked where we all came from, and what we paid for our scalped tickets, we declined to offer that last info. She said her report would be on the morning CBC news.

The Crowes never did appear and we gave up at 12:15 am but we did get Scottie ! He was with his wife and was a doll to us. We had a great chat and he very kindly signed everything we asked him to. I suggested the Indoor Garden Party should be an annual thing and he heartily agreed that would be great (Of course, maybe he was just being polite!) We also said we were dying for Robin Hood 2. He lit up and said they were ALL REALLY hoping  for that, and that things were going back and forth around the studios and ....who knew? They had only made RH I in order to make RH II. That was extremely welcome news , to my ears at least (Your mileage may vary  ). At least we know all the principles want to do it. He added that last summer's movies had been really weirdly scheduled , and that he had felt RH was more naturally a Christmas movie .

I thanked him for coming to this neck of the woods and asked if he enjoyed Newfoundland. He was very enthusiastic about it.

All my best,

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