Thursday, 29 March 2018

The Rural Alberta Advantage – Bitterzoet, 9 March 2018

According to a recent study* conducted by O2 and Goldsmith’s University Associate Lecturer Patrick Fagan, attending a live music gig can help you live longer. Apparently, experiencing a gig for just 20 minutes can result in a 21% increase in feelings of well-being. Further research found a direct link between “high levels of well-being [and] a lifespan increase of nine years”, therefore suggesting that being exposed to live music could help you live longer.

I can’t speak to the science but anyone who was at the Rural Alberta Advantage show in Amsterdam this month will vouch for its findings and an increased feeling of well-being.

This show was everything I love about live music and everything I love about living in Amsterdam. After a pretty average week at work and with my wife out of town, I had to leave the kids with a babysitter and make my way across town by bike on a drizzling and cold Friday night, to see a show on my own.

But once inside this ‘gezellig’ little underground venue, with a large beer in my hand, I found myself an arms-length away from the stage and pretty excited to see a band I had already seen and loved twice before and who made one of my favourite albums, their debut Hometowns.

And sure enough they did not disappoint.

Paul Banwatt is perhaps the best drummer I have ever seen live. He doesn’t seem to have a lot of drums to hit but he just drives every song, relentlessly. It was mesmerizing to be standing in front of him and watching him apply his trade. He is phenomenal. 

I was also super excited and somewhat surprised to see Amy Cole back in the band. Her backing vocals and harmonies, particularly on Don’t Haunt This Place add so much to the songs. Even after the thousands of times I have heard it, that song can still give me goose-bumps and it was no exception live tonight. 

And Nils Edenloff is of course the main man who carries the band, singing and introducing each song, playing guitar and general playing spokesman to the crowd. 

They made their way through 20 songs in pretty fast time, including 6 from Hometowns which I loved and 5 from their new album, The Wild all of which were strong and worth a listen.

I didn’t seem to notice the cold or the drizzle as much on the bike ride home, with my well-being sky high and my faith restored in live music and the city of Amsterdam.



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