Colin James & The Little Big Band Showed a Swinging Good Time in Vancouver

On February 2, 2024, Colin James & The Little Big Band were Vancouvers dancing partners. 

"Thanks. I'm so glad you came out and joined us for this."

The grey hairs were out in full force for the first night of two shows for Colin James & The Little Big Band, at the Commodore Ballroom. 
While the average age of the crowd was looking back at sixty, that didn’t stop any one of them from partying. While the first night of two wasn’t sold out, you wouldn’t have known it to be in there. It was packed from wall to wall, feeling extra full. As I walked throughout the venue after exiting the pit, I passed many folks dancing like they were at the sock hop. Which maybe was before their time, but fit in perfectly with what was going on, on stage. Both band and audience bringing up the mercury in the Ballroom.

"I always thought if I was going to play with the Rolling Stones, it wouldn't be in a little big band."

Who needs an opener? Not Colin James & The Little Big Band. Especially when you’re playing two sets, for a total of 30 songs. It was The Little Big Band that got the spotlight up front, playing a swingin’ intro, showing off the chops of every member. Then it was time for the main man on the bill to come out and do his thing. A vet of the stage, James commands it with ease and a friendly smile. Even when he stops to talk, you want to listen, as there’s usually a laugh or two. But it’s also the time he takes to talk about the people that inspired him. Come for a concert and get a bit of a bonus history lesson. Though it’s the way he uses the stage that puts him in control. Finding his pockets to play and draw you in. Whether it’s stepping a couple feet back from the mic, or leaning over the edge of the stage, you stand there, eyes glued on the man from Saskatchewan (originally…I think he’s been here long enough we can claim him as one of our own).

"He (Rosco Gordon) phoned up my management, after the record came out, and said, 'he's stealing my shit!'."

"Man, The Little Big Band is a good way to lose weight."

I don’t often talk about the technical side of a show, but damn, did the show sound and look good. But specifically the sound. It was present without being punchy. Loud without rattling. It was completely dialled in, so that the music was felt, but you could hear everyone on stage clearly. Specifically the vocals, which is often the first thing to get drowned out in a show. It was a new sound engineer that James said he’d started working with, and I’d say that it was money well spent. Though it’s clear it’s important to James, because the shows I’ve seen him in have all had fantastic sound.

"Are you having fun yet?!"

This was my third time seeing Colin James. The first was way back in 2010. Which happened to be the fourth show I ever shot. The second being right at the start of Backline Beat. I didn’t shoot the show, just enjoyed it, thanks to tickets from his opener Ally Venable, of whom I interviewed the previous day. (You can check that out here). He’s a guy I will always put in to cover, because he’s both fun to shoot and I know I’ll have a good time after the cameras go back in the bag.

Were you at the show? What did you think? Leave a comment below.

Hey, Jade here. Thanks for visiting Backline Beat. If you like the site and would like to help support it, I’d be very grateful. Every little bit helps. Right now I’m an army of one, and would like at some point to be able to bring on other voices, to be a part of Backline Beat. Below, are links to Patreon, PayPal, and Linktree.

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                                                      — Jade Dempsey  

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