When I walked into Louis’ on Friday night I was half expecting a rock concert by the energy level of the crowd.
Who did everyone come to see?
Was it a heavy metal band or the latest hip-hop group?
No, it was everyone’s childhood hero: Fred Penner.
Of course it was not your typical Fred Penner concert; just give your inner child some alcohol and see how that mixes with the songs you grew up listening to. But as soon as the introduction to Fred Penner’s Place was projected on the big screen, the energy level of the crowd soared and the volume reached deafening decibels.
It was finally him, in the flesh, in person! To me it felt like I was looking at a favourite uncle whom I hadn’t seen in a while. He brought back a feeling of safety and comfort that we seem to lose as we get older and start on the road to maturity.
What did not surprise me was how humble this amazing man is. He started the show with a chuckle and said, “I am not worthy.”
As the show went on, my amazement grew. I have never seen a room full of university students willingly singing the alphabet song and doing the actions to “Itsy-Bitsy Spider” (myself included). We said our vowels when he asked us to and meowed along with “The Cat Came Back.”
He can still groove and play guitar, even in his early 60s. What does that all say about the power and inspiration Fred Penner has instilled in this generation? As he said himself, we are the generation that grew up watching and listening to his songs and stories.
Fred Penner’s Place ran from the mid-’80s to the late ’90s, which is a span that covers anyone ranging from the early 30s to the late teens, the typical university age. We are the Penner generation. In my heart, I knew every song. The message to the whole show was clear; let your inner child guide you.
Our childhood innocence is the most precious moral tool that an adult can have but as life goes on, we drown it out with our adult problems. Fred Penner reminded us all that the inner child should be heard and respected. Our inner child cares for our friends, dreams without care of difficulty or what people think and keeps a positive spin on life, so why can’t adults do that too? As the show ended, it made me ask myself about today’s role models for kids.
No one replaced Fred Penner in the inspiration department and the only thing on television for kids now is animated cartoons that do not teach any moral lesson, like Fred Penner and even Mr. Dressup used to do.
The biggest life lesson my nephews learn is how to win a PokÃ©mon match on their Nintendos. Yeah, that is really going to take you far in life. Take a lesson from Fred Penner and “take good care of each other.”
photo: Raisa Pezderic