Sunday, November 18, 2007

International Pop Overthrow
The Rivoli, Toronto ON
The Original Segarini Band
The First Time
and more

The wife and I stopped in at the backroom of The Rivoli on Toronto's Queen St West strip for some punk-entertainment. International Pop Overthrow has brought their punk-based, mostly indie, festival north to Canada for it's club debut. They've got a 4-day run booked, presenting 10-15 bands a day. Quite a lot to take in some my ADD addled mind. So I picked four bands playing the Bullseye Records showcase. Thanks to Pete Kashur for the 'heads up'.

We're in the city early enough to find parking within a short walking distance of The Rivoli. It also results in our witnessing The Modern Punk Quartet. Two things of interest. 1) During their short set they were a trio for song 1 and a quintet for all but their last song, when they were finally a quartet. 2) The last song was a spirited, if flawed, cover of New York City by Canadian punk-legends The Demics. Made what preceeded it bearable.

Next up, from Youngstown, Ohio, a post-punk supergroup, of sorts. Actually I'd argue that the concept of a 'supergroup' is anti-thetical to the punk ethos but his band is comprised of former members of the Stiv Bators Band, Napoleon in Rags and the Infidels. (Those last two band names are somewhat related to Dylan.)

The Deadbeat Poets bring a tongue-in-cheek humour to the 2 minute power punk genre. The set opens with a self-searching blast at accountability, "Where Was I When I Needed Me?" Great work from shaggy-headed guitarist Pete Drivere who was just blistering the whole set. They had some troubles with tuning but after all, this is punk, tuning should be just an afterthought.

Third band is The First Time, a hard-driving punk band with something intangible happening. After making a buzz in 2005 on the Toronto Indie scene they underwent some personnel changes and have emerged with Ron McJannet fronting the band. If their success is predicated on his continued growth then they have a chance because he commands the stage well now and has the chutzpah to make an impression.

He opens the show with an a capella version of Dorothy Fields' If My Friends Could See Me Now, as dry-ice fog envelops him he belts it out like he was Judy Garland. Attention grabbing, but no gimic, it's a fun and powerful one minute intro. It accomplishes much more in my mind... you gotta respect kids who respect the history of music. The set showcases songs from their new release, TakingBreakingDown. Can-con highlight of the night...a cover of Gordon Lightfoot's Sundown that you would not believe.

Last band for us tonight is The Original Segarini Band. Now what to say about Bob Segarini? I dunno, so I'll just make some shit up.

He was there, in The Haight, when the counter-culture was busy being born. For reasons undisclosed (but likely having to do with morals laws) he made his way to Canada sometime in the mid-to-late '70's. Here he became a bit of a fixture on the college-pub circuit and in 1978 released a piece of art that stands the test of time, Gotta Have Pop. That record sits alongside Van Morrison's Moondance, The Beatles Abbey Road, John Prine's Sweet Revenge, Creedence Clearwater Revival's Cosmo's Factory, John Otway's Deep Thought (a NA release that was a combination of 'John Otway & Wild Billy Barrett' and 'Deep and Meaningless', but i digress) and Nick Lowe's Jesus of Cool, which was released in NA as Pure Pop for Now People.

Are they as good as those records?
Who am I to say?

The point is when you drop the needle on any of them, there's no need to remove it...every song is a joy to hear and that's quite an accomplishment.

Gotta Have Pop is both a send-up and an homage. It's a moment in time that never got it's righteous due in the rock pantheon. Them's the breaks, I guess.

Which is why it's a pleasure to be standing 15 feet from the stage with my sight-line and bead on the PA banks unimpeded by visual or auditory distractions. He's backed tonight by the players who were in the studio with him almost 30 years ago, and a couple of chick-a-dees they picked up on the way 'cause neither of those girls could have been born in 1978. Bob and the band deliver, covering a ton of songs from Gotta Have Pop.

They open with a trip to the Islands, Jamaica that is, a funky rendition of I Want You To Stay from the 1977 EP, Starlight.
I think lead guitarist Pete Kashur deviates from the set list and throws the audience an early bone as the ringing opening chords of Gotta Have Pop get us into and through the 800 pound gorilla in the room. A pop-anthem.
We dive into the melodramatic angst of the lovelorn and lovetorn with the pairing of I Don't Want to Lose You and the dreamy Hide Away.
Livin' in the Movies lightens the mood considerably. Some great lyrics in here as we wade through the pitfalls of a menage-a-trois, or perhaps merely unrequited love. Bob changes the line the whole song turns on though. What was once, "i'm not even sorry that I hit you that night..." becomes "i'm not even sorry that I spanked you that night..." I guess it stings a little less in this PC days. Still with tongue-in-cheek, which seems to be a sub-theme amongst the fun-loving bands onstage tonight, we get the 50's era Steady Eddie. There ain't no cumupance like your kids. This song could have appeared in a dream sequence in Blackboard Jungle or even High School Hellcats. We move from the coolness of James Dean to the dorkiness of the disco era with the hilarious Don't Believe A Word I Say. Almost a doo-wop song it lampoons the shallowness of the chase in the 'image is everything' age. Hey, if you can't laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at? I used to own a crushed velvet jacket.
Back to some pure pop with When The Lights Are out before the set closes with the more mature Good-Bye LA and the anthemic Juvenile Delinquents double-shot.

I missed not hearing Dressed in the Dark or Love Story but it is a festival set. This band has tightened considerably since the last time I saw them, over a year ago, while retaining a party looseness that makes them a joy to witness. I hope Bob gets to play this show for more audiences...they'd do well to take in a night and revisit the golden age of new wave music.

There's a torrent of this show running at dime.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Herman's Hermits
w/ Peter Noone
Fallsview Casino
Niagara Fall ON

Had my first 'boy crush' on Peter Noone when I was about 8 years old. It's taken a long time to finally see him in concert. Back in the early '80's I did go to see a Noone-less version of the Herman's Hermits at a small bar in Toronto; obviously it fell short of expectations.

Peter is just a few days shy of his 60th birthday and he joins a long line of 60's rock heroes who are still plying their trade in the new millenium. Think I've seen most of them this year as well.

Now these guys never did pack the weight of the Rolling Stones or the Beatles or even the Hollies, but they provided more than a few moments of pop-joy and even produced one or two songs that are an integral part of the baby-boomer culture.

Tonight is a 'birthday show' for me (and, as it turns out, Peter's mother) so the days festivities contained numerous adult activities including, but not limited to, betting 13 on the roulette wheel (to no avail, I passed them an additional $150) and keeping my elbows bent most all day. Nice pastoral start to the day as we cruised the Niagara Parkway, driving in and out of the misty rain emanating from the Falls. Which brings me to my 3rd row seat with quite a glow-on and a strong need to pee.

Pre-show festivities were interesting, if unnerving. Casino shows are always a gamble, especially if you're close to the front where the 'comp' tickets land. The Avalon Ballroom is a terrific venue, all the seats are good, the sound is superb and it's just the right size. I've enjoyed both BB King and Loretta Lynn here in the past couple years and both evenings were great concert experiences. As showtime approached there were lots of empty seats in the front sections and the ushers were scrambling to fill them in with patrons. People were being put into empty seats and then the ticket holders were showing up...causing confusion and consternation. Four people were ushered into the seats behind us. The alpha-male was boasting that it was a good thing they improved the shitty seats they were given, after all, did they not know who they were dealing with? The ladies giggled with glee and fondled their jewellry. The alpha assured all in the party that they were set because patrons at these shows are told their tickets won't be honoured if they show up late...a concept I'm not familiar with but one I'm sure could not be imposed on me if I had a paid ticket. Not even if I just chose to show up for the encore. As luck would have it the real ticket holders showed up and it seems the usher didn't know who they were dealing with and the arrogant interlopers were sent back to their rightful places. Just in time too, because the show is not late in starting.

After a quick musical introduction Peter Noone runs onto the stage and leaps right into Can't You Hear My Heartbeat followed quickly by Wonderful World and Listen People. A few minor hits and he's covered most of his instantly recognizable vocal range. Some pop and some pulp.

The show is filled with light stage banter, running jokes and endless allusions to other pop-culture icons. He peppers the set with spicy imitations of a wide variety of artists from Johnny Cash to Michael Jackson and Tom Jones. Though he could have done a complete show and never left the Herman's Hermits catalogue, he finds himself reminding us of the likes of Johnny Horton, Davey Jones (of the Monkees, not that Ziggy Stardust guy) and Gerry and the Pacemakers. It's a real '60's flashback kind of thing and it works well for Peter and for his audience. He's very connected to his fans, I swear to god he looked right at me! At least long enough to ascertain I wasn't the parent of the two cuties sitting to my right...who he proceeded to stare down most of the rest of the night.

Throughout the evening cd's were passed about to audience members, t-shirts tossed into the crowd from the stage, LP's handed onstage for signatures...lots of stuff besides the songs. That's all well and good, but it's the songs we want to hear.

Fortunately they keep coming and they all sound great. An energetic Dandy is followed by some chat about their first North American single, banned by many stations because they thought the song said "she's a muscular boy." A testament to the difficulty some had adjusting to the hair back in the '60's. A Must To Avoid was a sonic treat as Peter's voice is surprisingly strong for a man approaching 60.

A truncated stab at Leaning on A Lampost (I believe the only original song that didn't get a full playing) is followed by a rare "B" side, No Milk Today. Peter has fun trying to explain to the youngsters in the audience that "cd's used to have a song on the OTHER side."

From here to the end of the show it's almost all hits, every one a highlight. Got a special pleasure out of hearing Silhouettes, a long time favorite. Next to that would be a very restrained Mrs Brown, with Peter accompanied only by the familiar guitar and the audience at rapt attention.

We did get a loooooooong version of Henry the VIII, as in, millionth verse, same as the first. Complete with another sing-a-long.

The show closes with a lively version of A Kind of Hush and everybody got their moneys worth.

Peter joked all night about the 'love handles' he'd developed but he's looking great and moving pretty good for a senior. The tour still has a few weeks to run so you can check to see if he's coming to a town near you.

There's a torrent of this show running at dime.

Herman's Hermits
w/ Peter Noone
Avalon Ballroom
Fallsview Casino
Niagara Falls ON

taped by KreweChief on
Church Audio Cardioids>CA STC-9000 Pre-Amp >Edirol R-09 at 24/48 >USB >Sonic Foundry 16bit wave> FlacFrontend

FLC Row 3 Seat 4

Disc 1

Can't You Hear My Heartbeat
Wonderful World
Listen People
Love Potion #9
Battle of New Orleans
A Must To Avoid
Folsom Prison Blues/I'll Be There
Ferry Cross the Mersey
Travelling Light
Daydream Believer
It's Not Unusual
Leaning on A Lampost
No Milk Today

Disc 2

I'm Telling You Now
A World Without Love
Start Me Up/Talk
Just A Little Bit Better
Sea Cruise
The End of the World
I'm Into Something Good
Mrs Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter
Henry the VIII
There's A Kind of Hush