It’s been nearly 28 years since Amanda Marshall‘s debut self-titled album was released. It’s been nearly as long since Marshall mostly disappeared from the music industry.
Tuesday marked her first return to a Victoria stage since 2002 with a sold out show at The Royal Theatre. It was the final stop of the 16-stop cross-Canada ’25 & Counting: The Heavy Lifting Tour’ that started in Moncton, New Brunswick in early June.
Marshall’s self-title album was the first CD I ever purchased as a teenager in 1996 and it was one of those albums that I’d just listen straight through on repeat on my computer’s CD-ROM because more than half tracks were radio singles over a three year span. Sadly, I never had a chance to see her live back then.
When Live Nation announced the tour, my first thought was that it was ambitious to have a concert at a large theatre for an artist who has been out of the limelight for the better part of two decades. Then tickets essentially sold out instantaneously. I guess there were a lot of fans like myself who were itching to finally see her perform.
Marshall performed a 16 song set kicking off the show with her first Canadian hit ‘Let It Rain’. Marshall’s new album ‘Heavy Lifting’ was released on June 9th and three songs including the first single ‘I Hope She Cheats’ were performed early in the set. Her show was nearly two hours. She paid tribute to the late Gordon Lightfoot and Tina Turner seamlessly mixing in a bit of Lightfoot’s ‘Sundown’ during ‘Last Exit to Eden’ and Turner’s ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It’ during ‘Trust Me (This is Love)’. She ended the main set with a medley of ‘Everybody’s Got a Story, ‘Birmingham’ and Bruno Mars’ ’24K Magic’.
A major highlight for the audience in the Royal Theatre was Marshall’s performance of ‘Beautiful Goodbye’ which garnered a standing ovation just halfway through the show. Marshall also sang a song she’s never performed in front of a public audience before and dedicated a member of her music “tribe” who was from Victoria heard her sing it at soundcheck and complimented her. That song was Shawn Colvin’s ‘Diamond in The Rough’ and Marshall sang it acapella by herself. Unlike other concerts I’ve been to that have had an acapella portion, the entire audience stayed silent. There was no yelling, “wooos” or even a couch or sneeze.
At 50 years old, Marshall’s voice is still as powerful as ever and her signature curly long hair was in full flow. It was one of those shows that sounded like you were listening to a recorded album, but it was just Marshall and her 7-person band.
Opener Sophia Fracassi joined her for ‘Believe in You’ returning to the stage wearing one of Marshall’s merch t-shirts. Prior to starting the song Marshall sang some advice to musicians in the theatre repeating the best advice she ever received. “It doesn’t matter how many gold records you’ve got. Records is business. Stage is soul.”
Opening the show was 19-year-old pop singer-songwriter Sophia Fracassi. The teen was by herself on stage with a keyboard closing out her first tour. Fracassi had a bright stage presence and audience interaction with confidence and humour of someone who was on their 20th tour and not her first performing to 1400 people. The already full Royal Theatre thoroughly enjoyed their introduction to her music.