Last Friday’s sold out 65 Red Roses benefit concert for Cystic Fibrosis Canada brought down the house at Massey Theatre. And I was lucky enough to have a backstage look at the happenings, thanks to winning a contest through the Vancouver blog Hummingbird604!
The theatre was packed, mostly with 20-somethings, so we found ourselves in the upper balcony for the first half of the show, which opened with an introduction by Phillip Lyall, director of the 65_Red Roses documentary, and Rachel Aberle, one of Eva Markvoort’s close friends. They set the tone of the night, which was warm and celebratory of Eva’s life and her passion for creativity and inspiration, shown in the showcase of several of her favourite local musicians.
Kicking off the musical portion of the eveing was David Vertesi, who performed a set without a band, although in one humorous song that had the audience in stitches, he accompanied himself and his guitar with canned drums from his keytar.
After he closed his set with his new single “Mountainside”, Eva’s mother Janet Brine took the stage to introduce a video message Eva had made for a Cystic Fibrosis Canada event, just after she began to undergo chronic rejection, not long before she passed away. Unfortunately, just as Brine was extolling the “magic of technology” that would enable us to see and hear Eva, the sound on the video stopped working and they had to bring on the next band, The Zolas.
Luckily The Zolas’ upbeat set was just what was needed to get the audience back into the swing of things after the confusion about the video. The Zolas’ frontman Zachary Grey punctuated the set with jokes in-between songs, laughing that he felt the crowd at the Massey was too classy for them.
“Could you do us a favour and just talk through our whole set? Like you wish we weren’t playing?” he laughed.
By the time The Zolas closed their set with “You’re Too Cool”, one of their big new singles, the audio feed had been fixed and we got to see Eva’s message. It was difficult not to tear up as we saw Eva say, “Let’s continue to work so that, in my lifetime, CF stands for Cure Found.”
Then the MCs took to the stage again to talk about Eva’s two causes: raising awareness of organ donation, and fundraising for Cystic Fibrosis research. Everyone at the concert received an organ donor registration card with their programs. Register as an organ donor or find out if you’re registered at www.transplant.bc.ca. As to Eva’s latter cause, proceeds from the concert were donated to Cystic Fibrosis Canada, and you can also donate online at www.cysticfibrosis.ca/. You can also join the 65 Red Roses movement on Facebook and Twitter.
After the pitch, Hannah Georgas finished off the first half of the concert with a set that showcased her amazing vocal and stylistic versatility. Backstage at intermission she said she’d never played in New West before but she was really honoured to be part of such a great initiative and it was great to be on the same bill as so many friends.
The first half of the show was amazing but it was clearly Dan Mangan everyone was waiting to see. His T-shirts flew off the racks of the musicians’ kiosk at intermission and as soon as he took the stage after another brief video on CF, fans flocked to the front of the theatre to dance near the front of the stage and take photos and videos, screaming as he played a combination of new songs and older hits like “Basket” and “Sold” (Mangan was recently voted the number one musician Vancouver women would like to sleep with in the 2011 Georgia Straight Sex Survey and judging by the audience reaction, the survey was pretty accurate).
Mangan closed his set talking about Eva and capturing the sentiment most of us would leave thinking about. He talked about how knowing people like Eva, “who love without worrying about looking cool” inspire him and how Eva’s life should inspire all of us to be creative, love others, and be ourselves without fear.
Editor’s note: Voted 2010 Newsmaker of the Year in New Westminster by both the New Westminster News Leader and the Royal City Record, Eva Markvoort continues to touch lives despite having succumbed to CF on March 27th, 2010. For more info or to get involved, check out: www.65redroses.com, liberally use the #4eva hashtag on Twitter, and most importantly, register to be an organ donor.