OTTAWA –Bryan Adams and comedian Russell Peters kicked off the Juno Awards on Sunday night with a little help from Justin Trudeau.
The show opened with a skit set backstage and Peters being waved into Adams’s green room. An incredulous Peters is told Adams is on the phone with the prime minister and the rock star exclaims: “I’m Bryan (expletive) Adams.”
The scene ended with Trudeau requesting that Adams play “Summer of ’69” on the show.
“I love that song,” the prime minister proclaimed.
Peters followed with a somewhat off-colour opening monologue in which he proclaimed the audience of young girls was a “felony waiting to happen,” and gave a shout out to Canada’s sesquicentennial, calling the country “still sexy at 150.”
“The United States is 241 and they’re aging horribly –especially since January,” Peters said, in reference to U.S. President Donald Trump’s inauguration. “It’s almost like the U.S. has a really bad spray tan all over it.”
Peters also joked about the Canadian musical superstars who weren’t in attendance.
“Drake is on tour,” Peters noted, to groans from the audience. “The Weeknd is dating (Justin) Bieber’s ex, and the Biebs is in Brazil, probably punching a fan right now.”
Peters adopted a more serious tone for a moment to recognize that he was subbing in for Michael Buble, who bowed out of hosting duties last month to care for his young son Noah, who’s fighting cancer.
“My thoughts are with you Mikey and I love you buddy,” Peters said.
The awards show was expected to have a certain tinge of sadness.
Among the artists in the running this year are the late Leonard Cohen, who’s up for album of the year, and singer Gord Downie, who’s nominated for songwriter of the year, and group of the year with his band the Tragically Hip.
Feist was scheduled to pay tribute to Cohen’s life by playing a “classic song” of his.
“The wealth of his work is so deep,” she said on the red carpet before the show. “It came from, I felt, a really rich inner-life.”
The singer, born Leslie Feist, said she scoured YouTube videos of Cohen’s public speeches to better understand him and translate it into her performance.
“He had what I always felt to be a real potent privacy I admire,” she added.
“I didn’t want a jamboree. To keep it as simple and spare as possible would be suitable.”
The show’s opening also included Buffy Sainte-Marie introducing a performance from electronic group A Tribe Called Red and throat singer Tanya Tagaq.
Juno organizers were keeping the lid on a mystery guest who will close the show.