K.D. LANG STILL GO­ING STRONG

First Canada tour in 13 years

Montreal Gazette - - YOU - DANA GEE

k.d. lang laughs when you ask her about tour­ing Canada in win­ter.

“Oh my God, yes. I was in a van. We took out the back seat and put some foam down so peo­ple could sleep,” lang said, re­call­ing the early days when she was just a 23-yearold cow­punk. “We went across Canada. I don’t know if it was the first time, but one of the times we were in Sud­bury, (Ont.), and there was an ice storm and we parked to get gas. The grade of the gas sta­tion and the icy road was so that the van started slid­ing to­wards the pump. I was like, ‘Oh Lord, we’re go­ing to be toast.’ I thought there was go­ing to be a huge ex­plo­sion.”

Sure, now the fa­mous singer — who calls both Cal­gary and Port­land, Ore., home these days — can see the hu­mour in thou­sands of bumpy kilo­me­tres holed up in a crummy, cold van. Time in­deed heals all wounds and of­fers, if you’re lucky, some per­spec­tive.

“I was ready to deal with what­ever came my way af­ter that — in­clud­ing try­ing to eat veg­e­tar­ian back in the early ’80s in win­ter in Canada. It was a lot of peanuts and ba­nanas. Yup, that’s what I got,” lang said over the phone from her Port­land home.

Talk of tour­ing Canada is front and cen­tre with the Grammy Award-win­ning singer as she is on the eve of her first tour of her home­land in 13 years. The In­genue Re­dux Cana­dian Tour be­gins in Vic­to­ria on Satur­day, then hits Van­cou­ver’s Or­pheum Theatre for two nights on Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day. It then makes its way across the coun­try be­fore wrap­ping in Hamil­ton on Sept. 19.

“It’s been a long time since I have gone coast to coast, which I am su­per ex­cited about,” lang said. “I can’t think of a bet­ter place to tour at this time in the world. I called my manager and said: ‘I re­ally want to tour this year, but I only want to tour Aus­tralia and Canada.’”

Those choices have a lot to do with the state of the world these days. She lives half of her life in the U.S. and says her friends and ac­quain­tances are fear­ful that their rights are in dan­ger as a Trump gov­ern­ment has threat­ened huge roll­backs in LGBTQ rights.

“It’s a very chaotic, con­fus­ing time for peo­ple,” lang said.

That Trumpian re­al­ity has re­ally read­ied lang for a good dose of Canada.

“To me, I think there is an

open­ness here both ge­o­graph­i­cally and morally, and heart(wise) and emo­tion­ally,” said lang, a mem­ber of the Or­der of Canada. “I think we are a pretty open peo­ple, even though we tend to be kind of self­ef­fac­ing and in­su­lar … To me it’s re­ally great for an en­tire cul­ture to have that sort of essence. It is as­ton­ish­ing.”

Aside from the ob­vi­ous lo­gis­ti­cal mer­its, start­ing a cross-Canada tour in B.C. makes even more sense for the Con­sort, Alta., na­tive as Van­cou­ver, in par­tic­u­lar, was a cat­a­lyst in her ca­reer tra­jec­tory.

“My good­ness, be­tween the Savoy and the Rail­way, wow,” lang said when asked about the Rail­way Club back in the day. “The Rail­way, that was re­ally such a launch­ing pad for me. That re­ally was such a great club. I was there maybe for a week at a time, so it re­ally al­lowed me to get in there and re­ally work out with the band and try dif­fer­ent things.

“I can re­mem­ber hang­ing off that crazy plas­tic horse and try­ing dif­fer­ent styles from punk to coun­try and, of course, Janet Forsyth, who ran both of the clubs, be­came one of my best friends to this day, so it has a great amount of mem­ory and such a high place in my heart.”

Speak­ing of mem­o­ries, what about a lang mem­oir? All the cool pop stars are do­ing them these days.

“They asked me to, but, nah. Some­body can do it posthu­mously. My life is not that in­ter­est­ing,” lang said.

The new tour is de­signed around the 25th an­niver­sary of lang ’s huge sec­ond al­bum, In­genue. The mul­ti­plat­inum 1992 al­bum in­cluded the mas­sive hits Con­stant Crav­ing and Miss Chate­laine. The al­bum was re­mas­tered and reis­sued on vinyl and in a box set in July.

“My mom al­ways says to me, ‘It goes faster as you get older,’ and it seems to be true,” lang said. “Yeah, 25 years. It’s go­ing to be in­ter­est­ing. We are go­ing to do the record in its en­tirety in se­quence at the be­gin­ning of the show. I don’t know what to ex­pect from my­self. I don’t know if I am go­ing to feel trans­ported back to the emo­tions of those songs or if I’m go­ing to have a new re­la­tion­ship or a lit­tle bit of both.

“I’m re­ally ex­cited and I think and I’m hop­ing that some of the au­di­ence will have a re­la­tion­ship with that record. From what I hear from peo­ple, they do. It’s a marker in their lives as well. I hope it’s en­joy­able for ev­ery­one."

While In­genue is the cen­tre­piece of the show, lang fans will get other favourites as well. One of those songs is Leonard Cohen’s Hal­lelu­jah. That song and lang be­came syn­ony­mous af­ter lang de­liv­ered an awe-in­spir­ing ver­sion of it live at the Juno Awards in Win­nipeg in 2005. Cohen died in Novem­ber 2016 and lang has only sung the song once since his pass­ing.

“It’s cer­tainly go­ing to be dif­fer­ent in Canada to sing that song now,” lang said. “I think ev­ery­one who has sung it and I think Leonard, from what I un­der­stood from what he said over the years, felt the song re­ally had tran­scended any­one’s in­volve­ment.

“It re­ally be­longs to the pop cul­tural con­scious­ness of the last 20 years and it’s not Leonard’s song, it’s not my song, it be­longs to all of us. So that makes it eas­ier, be­cause it be­longs to ev­ery­body.”

A hit with a cover is fa­mil­iar territory for lang. She un­leashed her pow­er­ful vo­cals on Roy Or­bi­son’s and Joe Mel­son’s Cry­ing years ear­lier and brought new life to the song Or­bi­son first re­leased as a sin­gle in 1961.

“First I have to be to­tally en­am­oured with the song,” lang said about song choice. “I have to re­ally love the song and it has to make sense if I am do­ing it for a record. I al­ways like to have some con­cep­tual pa­ram­e­ters. But with Hymns of the 49th Par­al­lel it was ob­vi­ously the Cana­dian thing, but it was also songs that had re­ally had an im­pact on me.”

She also is mem­o­rable for great duet per­for­mances, in­clud­ing Or­bi­son and Tony Ben­nett. To­day, lang looks back on those col­lab­o­ra­tions with grat­i­tude and a lit­tle bit of awe.

“I’ve had a lot of good luck with great teach­ers,” lang said. “There are mo­ments you are so ab­sorbed in the way (Tony) phrases, the way he smiles at the au­di­ence. I just try to soak it up, be­cause I know this is a great mas­ter of the Amer­i­can song­book and I just try to ab­sorb as much as pos­si­ble. You have to be a good stu­dent and pay at­ten­tion.”

Peo­ple have been pay­ing at­ten­tion to lang for over 30 years.

“I’m get­ting less and less antsy,” lang said. “The older I get the less I need to work, but I think there is some­thing to hav­ing an oc­cu­pa­tion — you know, use it or lose it. Hav­ing a voice and not us­ing it seems kind of sad to me, or kind of ir­re­spon­si­ble to not go ex­er­cise it.”

With over three decades in the busi­ness be­hind her and nu­mer­ous awards col­lected and some con­tro­ver­sies man­aged, does the singer look back of­ten or spend time think­ing about the what-ifs in life?

“I’m def­i­nitely happy with my choices. I have no re­grets,” lang said. “I was liv­ing my life and giv­ing it my ev­ery­thing. You can’t re­ally com­plain about that.”

In fact, lang doesn’t have any com­plaints right now. She says her voice is strong and ready and she’s go­ing to have a great time com­ing home for the sum­mer. She’s seen this Cana­dian road movie be­fore and knows what to ex­pect and how to nav­i­gate the jour­ney. With that in mind, does she have any ad­vice for a young artist who might be busy stuff­ing a big piece of foam into the back of van as we speak?

“Just en­joy your ad­ven­tures,” lang said. “Try to stay healthy and take care of your­self. I think one of the most im­por­tant things I ever learned was all the travel, all the ex­haus­tion, all the s----- ho­tel rooms, all the s----- food, it bet­ter be worth it when you walk on stage. You bet­ter be present and you bet­ter give ev­ery­thing you can for that hour and a half or two hours or three hours, what­ever you are per­form­ing, be­cause that’s what it is all about.”

I’m hop­ing that some of the au­di­ence will have a re­la­tion­ship with that record. From what I hear from peo­ple, they do.

DEREK MORTENSEN/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILES

k.d. lang is tour­ing Canada for the first time in 13 years, start­ing with stops in Vic­to­ria and Van­cou­ver.

HEATHER WIL­SON/FILES

k.d. lang, seen in 1985, says she’s ma­tured over three decades in music. “I’m get­ting less and less antsy,” she says.

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