TORONTO – Victoria-raised pop star Nelly Furtado says she loves playing gigs on New Year’s Eve — even if it means having to freeze in icy climes, which will be the case Monday night when she takes the outdoor stage at Niagara Falls, Ont.
“It’s fun and you get to be onstage and you get to serenade all the couples that are kissing at midnight. It’s a great vantage point,” she said in a recent interview, noting she was shopping for a coat that was warm enough for the gig.
Plus, New Year’s Eve revellers who brave the cold weather and in a group setting are usually “there to party, they’re there to have a good time, so you know what the MO (modus operandi) is, right?” she added with a laugh.
“It’s an easier gig that way in terms of meeting expectations, I guess. But no gig is easy, because you’ve got to bring the party.”
Furtado plans to bring the party by singing a mix of new and old tunes from her five albums at “Entertainment Tonight Canada”‘s fourth annual “New Year’s Eve at Niagara Falls.” The two-hour show, hosted by Cheryl Hickey and Matte Babel, starts at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Global.
Other acts on the bill include electro-pop trio Dragonette and Vancouver rockers Hedley, Furtado’s fellow Free the Children charity ambassadors.
Hedley lead singer Jacob Hoggard is known for pulling pranks and Furtado is bracing for a surprise of some sort.
“I’m sure his prank will be showing up with, like, no shirt on. Like, Niagara Falls in the freezing, sub-zero temperatures and somehow being able to sing, without a scarf on,” she said.
“That’s what rock stars do.”
Furtado plans to deliver a high-energy set with songs including “Parking Lot” and “Big Hoops (Bigger the Better)” from the recently released “The Spirit Indestructible,” her first English-language album in about six years.
“It’s always challenging when you’re playing for an audience in front of you and you’re also playing for an audience at home, watching it on television,” said Furtado.
“You have to kind of be engaged in many different ways, and they break it up for commercial breaks, so we’re going to be out there for a while and the audience will be freezing along with us. So we’ll be unified in spirit, I think.”
The event is a far cry from Furtado’s most memorable New Year’s Eve gig: a spontaneous set at a bar in Victoria just before she got her big break with the 2000 album “Whoa, Nelly!”
“My band that I used to jam with, Velvet, were playing this gig at this club and I kind of dressed up and showed up at the club and bum-rushed the stage and did a little mini improv set. It was really fun,” she said.
Furtado’s end-of-year celebrations are typically much more low-key these days, though, given that she has a young daughter now.
“My most memorable New Year’s Eve was maybe last year, I got together with the whole family and we just had a huge food fest and we popped all these balloons at midnight and it was just about 30, 40 people all crammed into my aunt’s house,” said the 34-year-old.
Furtado said she hadn’t crafted a New Year’s resolution for 2013 yet. But if/when she does, she won’t be keeping it a secret.
“I believe in making a testimonial-style resolution, where you might be amongst family or friends and you say out loud maybe one thing around the dinner table, maybe at Christmas or something,” she said. “Because then you have somebody holding you accountable to your resolution.”
Furtado’s never played in Niagara Falls before. It’s an area she’s been fascinated with since she was a child, though.
Growing up on the West Coast, Furtado never got to visit the roaring waters, but she heard about it from her Portuguese relatives who always stopped by the tourist destination during their visits.
“I remember looking at pictures of Niagara Falls as a child, of other family members on vacation, and thinking ‘Wow,'” she recalled.
“I was mesmerized by this one photo of my brother and sister in the barrel looking like they were about to tumble over Niagara Falls and I thought it was real, as a child, and I’m thinking, ‘Wow, my brother and sister really went down Niagara Falls in a barrel!'”
Furtado kicks off “The Spirit Indestructible” tour in Canada at the beginning of the New Year, starting with Jan. 8 in Victoria.