Ed Robertson, right, of the Barenaked Ladies, and former member and co-founder Steven Page, left, perform during the Juno Awards in Vancouver, B.C., on Sunday March 25, 2018. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Optimism shines bright at upbeat Juno Awards show in Vancouver

Gord Downie’s brother accepted a posthumous award for the singer

It was a night of positivity and resilience at the Juno Awards as the stars of Canadian music focused on celebrating the upsides of life.

Host Michael Buble set the tone early on Sunday night by announcing his wife’s third pregnancy — but other performers were quick to grab the tide of optimism during their own stage moments.

“I just hope that we can all rise above negativity in our lives and just do what we believe in,” said Arcade Fire’s Win Butler as he accepted the band’s album award for “Everything Now.”

“Speak your truth and don’t be afraid to just do whatever the hell you want.”

Gord Downie’s brothers Mike and Patrick echoed an unbounded sense of resolve as they accepted a posthumous award for the singer, who died last October of brain cancer.

“If we’ve learned anything from Gord it was the value of taking care of each other,” said Patrick.

“This is Gord’s award. It’s artist of the year, but he was our man of a lifetime. I’d like to believe we’re all better artists and people because of him. We love you Gord and we’re all taking good care of each other.”

An acoustic tribute to Downie was led by Sarah Harmer and Dallas Green, alongside Barenaked Ladies keyboardist Kevin Hearn, who performed “Bobcaygeon” as archival clips of the Tragically Hip frontman played behind them.

It was Buble whose seemingly effortless charm kept the show on an upbeat track.

Without fully addressing why he stepped aside from his Juno hosting duties last year, he acknowledged this was a comeback of sorts. He pulled out of the 2017 Junos after his son was diagnosed with cancer.

Buble told the audience that after being “gone for a while” he wondered if he might have lost “whatever it is” that built his name.

“But honestly after standing here for 40 seconds, I realize that I’m even better than I was before,” he added.

Buble later joined Diana Krall for a charming duet of the Nat King Cole classic “L-O-V-E.”

Daniel Caesar grabbed R&B/soul recording for his album “Freudian” while Jessie Reyez scored breakthrough artist. She offered an emotional acceptance speech reflecting on her sudden rise to fame.

“It means so much to get this love out at home,” she said.

Both performers reappeared later to duet on Reyez’s song “Figures.”

READ: Gord Downie and Diana Krall win two awards each at non-televised Juno gala

There were a number of pseudo surprises throughout the show.

The rappers behind the Canadian hit “Northern Touch” took it upon themselves to improvise a version of the song they were once denied performing on the Junos telecast 20 years ago.

The Northern Touch All-Stars announced Tory Lanez as the winner of this year’s rap award, but when he wasn’t around to accept it, rapper Kardinal Offishall jumped in to ask the audience a question.

“Don’t you all wish we had some more hip hop in here tonight?” he said.

“I know this is going to mess up the Junos a little bit — but I don’t care. Do you want to do ‘Northern Touch’ right now?

The group — which also includes rappers Red1, Misfit, Checkmate, Thrust and Choclair — then launched into a full version of “Northern Touch,” which appeared on the Rascalz 1998 album “Cash Crop.”

Junos president Allan Reid acknowledged the moment was partly staged. He said the Junos organizers approached the rap group earlier in the afternoon with the idea.

One of the night’s other big surprises wouldn’t have shocked gossip magazine readers.

Recent tabloid speculation that Buble’s wife is pregnant became an official announcement on the show as the singer revealed actress Luisana Lopilato is expecting their third child.

He told the audience it was the second time her pregnancy has been linked to the Junos. Five years ago when he hosted in Regina, she was expecting their first child.

“Oops you did it again!” Buble said as the audience cheered the revelation.

Grimes and Buffy St. Marie introduced pop artist Lights with an impassioned speech for gender equality led by the Indigenous folk singer.

“It’s time for change, it’s time for women to be recognized for our accomplishments and our value to this industry,” St. Marie said with powerful delivery.

“We need to build a foundation upon which we can support an environment that actually encourages success for women… because it’s not here yet.”

Barenaked Ladies and former bandmate Steven Page were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

After singing a brief tune as they accepted their award, the band closed the broadcast by launching into some of their old hits, starting with ”One Week.” It was the first time they’d performed with Page since he went solo nearly a decade ago.

The group wasn’t alone on stage for long, as it evolved into an all-star tribute, with guests who spanned the music genres and fit comfortably with the band’s offbeat sense of humour.

Jann Arden, Jim Cuddy and Nunavut band The Jerry Cans danced alongside members of the Northern Touch All-Stars as they all performed a sing-along to “If I Had $1,000,000,” which finished with balloons and fake million-dollar bills falling from the rafters.

Page then pulled from one of the song’s most famous lines about Kraft Dinner to pose a question that’s lingered for years:

“Come on, 30 years now, Kraft. Isn’t it time for a sponsorship?

David Friend, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Saratoga Speedway celebrates its 50th opening night of racing May 5

In 1968 the central Vancouver Island communities and business came together to… Continue reading

Cumberland May Day Bean Dinner planned

Labour Minister Harry Bains as guest speaker at annual event

Draft plan for Union Bay coal hills remediation to be submitted this spring

West Fraser Mills is paying for the installation of an engineered membrane

Crowdfunding page created for family of Comox Valley man killed in Peru

A GoFundMe page has been created for the family of Sebastian Woodroffe,… Continue reading

Comox Valley’s living wage sees four per cent increase from 2017 – report

Advocacy groups say the Valley’s inflation rate was nearly double the provincial average

Canadian musician duets with ancestral Indigenous voices on debut album

Toronto’s Jeremy Dutcher has mixed his operatic tenor with his Wolastoq First Nation roots

COLUMN: Stanley Cup playoff second-round predictions

Sidney Crosby and the Penguins continue their quest for their third straight Stanley Cup

B.C. seeks court ruling on new pipeline regulations

Province wants to require permits for any new bitumen transport

LIVE: TSB findings on plane crash that killed former Alberta Premier Jim Prentice

The TSB will announce its findings and the Capital News will follow.

Former child watchdog to head UBC centre on residential schools

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond to lead university’s Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre

Man dead after possible attack near Vancouver casino

A 38-year-old man with ‘serious injures’ was rushed to hospital but died in surgery

Toronto sports fans come together in wake of van attack

Police probe Toronto van attack as details emerge

Prince William to be Harry’s best man

Prince William will be Prince Harry’s best man at May wedding

Humboldt arena memorial ring to be removed

Arena ring of tribute to Saskatchewan hockey team to be removed as summer nears

Most Read