Arts

Hamilton entertains crowd with non-stop performances at Junos

Photo: Madison McSweeney

The 2015 Juno Awards was a fitting celebration of the creativity and talent of Canadian musicians.

Bars, restaurants, and churches in the six-time host city were abuzz with live music and Juno-affiliated events. The Art Gallery of Hamilton even got in on the fun by showcasing sculptures and paintings selected by nominees, along with a collection of Juno-related photography.

The highlight of the pre-broadcast festivities was undoubtedly the Songwriting Circle, hosted by CBC Radio’s Tom Power, where a diverse lineup of major Canadian artists—including Big Wreck’s Ian Thornley, Lights, Emmanuel Jal, Mother Mother’s Ryan Guldemond, and childhood hero Fred Penner—performed a selection of original songs and discussed the songwriting process. The relaxed acoustic set was a sharp contrast to that night’s broadcast, a maximalist celebration of Canadian music that reaffirmed our place in the artistic landscape.

Hedley kicked off the show with a crowd-pleasing performance of “Anything,” before frontman Jacob Hoggard assumed hosting duties. Hoggard’s tenure was marked by rock ‘n’ roll enthusiasm, risqué humour, and an appearance from “that guy from that talent show I lost,” CTV’s Ben Mulroney.

As can be expected with the reliably efficient Junos, the show moved at a brisk pace. Only eight awards were given out during the broadcast—the rest had been awarded at a live-streamed gala dinner the night previous—leaving about half the show reserved for performances.

Hamilton’s own Arkells, whose live shows have established them as one of Canada’s most engaging acts, didn’t disappoint with their orchestral performance of “Come to Light.”

Artist Kiesza showed off her musicianship behind the piano for “Sound of a Woman” before bursting into a dance-heavy performance of “Hideaway,” while Shawn Mendes’ mellow acoustic “Life of the Party” momentarily silenced the teenage shrieks that ushered it in.

EDM fans were similarly enthused by the sight of Deadmau5’s iconic helmet, which foreshadowed a characteristically quirky few minutes of dance floor euphoria.

This year’s show also featured substantial government representation, a reminder of the federal government’s role in promoting and funding Canadian artists.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper provided a humorous cameo in the opening video clip, FaceTiming with Hoggard from his office and responding to the host’s casual “What’s happening?” icebreaker  with, “I’m the Prime Minister. Everything’s happening.”

The most impactful moment of the night was the induction of iconic alt-rock singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Introduced by Jagged Little Pill producer Glen Ballard, Morissette praised the “curious (and) self-deprecating” nature of Canadians, before closing the show with a superb medley of “Uninvited,” “You Oughta Know,” and “Thank You.”

All in all, the 2015 Juno Awards highlighted a crop of artists who are often as humble and humanitarian as they are brilliant, emphasizing why our musicians so often dominate the international music scene.

Well-played, Canada.