Steven Page celebrated the one-year anniversary, or 50 shows, of his Live from Home series, this past Saturday (April 24) with balloons, streamers, and hundreds of fans.
About a month after the coronavirus pandemic hit, the Canadian Music Hall of Famer started performing weekly Zoom concerts from his basement in Manlius, New York, through Dan Mangan’s Side Door platform, making more than US$100,000, according to his publicist, Bob Merlis, by charging $8 a head for a 90-minute set, sometimes longer — if he gets carried away.
“Ah yes, my beloved gallery view,” he said near the start of Saturday’s 50th. “Nice to see more than five or six of you. I see so many of you waving. You know, how much I love a good wave. We got five pages today.” That amounts to about 500 people. He reached 1000 max capacity the first few months and always gets a few hundred.
Each week is a different theme, therefore a different set list, that, over the year, tallies to more than 200 different songs, including new compositions, Xylorimba and Zoom, (for his alphabet-themed shows) and every one of his albums from BNL’s 1992 major label debut, Gordon, to his latest solo album in 2018, Discipline: Heal Thyself Part II.
He also added a “Texts from Craig” segment after his good bud Craig Northey of the Odds started sending him words of encouragement and two cents in the early fumbling-in-the-dark days of his livestreams.
Not every artist could pull this off.
Page, as anyone who has seen him perform solo, or during the 20 years he co-led Barenaked Ladies until 2009, knows he is funny, can handle a fuck-up with hilarity and acknowledgement, and is great at improvising and telling stories. That’s one of the main reasons so many of the people who buy tickets for Live from Home do so regularly. They appear on camera (audio muted), some playing along on guitar, some with their kids and pets, almost all cozy on a couch.
Page will sometimes do shout-outs, make up songs from one of their chat comments, or call them out by name. Thrilling and fun for a fan, to be sure.
In fact, last May, he got everyone (a thousand people) to sing together at the end of The Chorus Girl. He calls it The Great Unmuting. Now with some pre-planning, he’s doing a video for A New Shore, asking for Land ho! submissions by May 3.
“So, one year, one year, basically today, was the first Live from Home show. And we've changed a lot,” Page reflected on Saturday. “It was very lo-fi, lo-tech, high-energy, I guess, but in a different way; the energy there was more like, ‘This feels very strange.’ Now it feels like home.
“And look at all your people with your balloons, your 50 balloons in the background,” he continued, calling out “Roger” and “Jessica” who he thinks has the same balloons framed behind them.
He then launched into Isolation, introducing it by saying, “So a year ago, wrote the song, glibly, thinking not that half-a-million people in United States will be dead from this disease. So, it was weird looking back, but you do have to find ways to survive — humour, humanity, connection, all important things. But at the same time, it's a heavy-duty year to look back on.”
Page will be back next week, of course, for Live from Home L1 (51).
- For information on upcoming ticketed shows, link here.