Saturday, December 06, 2008

Wanda Jackson and The Rizdales
Cadillac Lounge

We opened the year at The Cadillac Lounge watching the reigning Prince of Rockabilly, Robert Gordon, and find ourselves closing it with the First Lady of Rockabilly, Wanda Jackson. Not a bad bracket on a tumultuous year.

The Rizdales provide some nice sounds and harmonics for the little lady with the big voice.

Wanda Jackson and The Rizdales
Cadillac Lounge
Toronto ON

Track 01 Mean, Mean, Man
Track 02 Rock Me Baby
Track 03 Hard Headed Woman
Track 04 talk
Track 05 I Gotta Know
you tube link
Track 06 talk
Track 07 I Betcha My Heart
Track 08 Jambalaya
you tube link
Track 09 talk/You Win Again tease/Elvis story
Track 10 Good Rockin' Tonight
Track 11 Let's Play House
Track 12 Heartbreak Hotel
Track 13 talk
Track 14 Fujiyama Mama
you tube link
Track 15 talk
Track 16 Funnel of Love
you tube link
Track 17 talk
Track 18 Right or Wrong
you tube link
Track 19 talk
Track 20 Cell Block 9
Track 21 I Saw The Light/witness
Track 22 Band Intro
Track 23 Let's Have A Party/Outro
Track 24 Whole Lotta Shakin'/Let's Have A Party

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Nine Inch Nails
Copps Coliseum
Hamilton ON

I've been a little busy this month so instead of a 2nd review of NIN this year I'll direct you to my friend Ray's excellent blog for his interpretation of Trent's art.

Dylan ETC review of NIN

Here is the set list, as best I can figure out, and some sound samples from Hamilton.

Nine Inch Nails
Copps Coliseum
Hamilton ON

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

Disc 1

Track 01 999,999(?)
Track 02 1,000,000
Track 03 Letting You
Track 04 Discipline
Track 05 March of the Pigs
Track 06 Head Down
Track 07 Closer
Track 08 Gave Up
Track 09 The Warning
Track 10 Vessel
Track 11 Ghosts 5
Track 12 Ghosts 17
Track 13 Ghosts 19

Disc 2
Track 01 Ghosts Piggy
Track 02 The Greater Good /Pinion?
Track 03 Wish
Track 04 Terrible Lies
Track 05 Survivalism
Track 06 The Big Comedown
Track 07 Ghosts 31
Track 08 Only
Track 09 The Hand That Feeds
Track 10 Head Like A Hole
Track 11 Echoplex
Track 12 Band Intro
Track 13 The Good Soldier
Track 14 Hurt
Track 15 In This Twilight

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bob Dylan
3 Nights in Southern Ontario
2008-11-11,2008-11-12 & 2008-11-15

Thought I was only going to see one Dylan show this year...then he books a tour in Southern Ontario. That alone might not have been enough except that a friend was coming in from Italy for some shows and I thought...hell, if you can't see Bob when you're being a good host, when can you?

Pretty well anytime you want, seems to be the answer.

Big surprise/tease first night out...there's no Stu or Denny onstage.
Paul James is playing lead!
The band has life!
Bob is on fire!
He looked right at me!

What a treat to see someone on stage moving.

Alas the dream ended on the 6th song when the current, less than electric, ensemble took it's place.

Oh well. It was fun while it lasted.


John Labatt Centre

London ON

Disc 1
Track 01 Intro/Cat's in the Well
Track 02 Love Minus Zero/No Limit
Track 03 The Levee's Gonna Break
Track 04 Spirit on the Water
Track 05 Stuck Inside of Mobile (with the Memphis Blues Again)
Track 06 Masters of War
Track 07 I'll Be Your Baby Tonight
Track 08 John Brown
Track 09 Beyond the Horizon
Track 10 Highway 61
Track 11 Shooting Star
Track 12 It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)

Disc 2

Track 01 Under the Red Sky
Track 02 Thunder on the Mountain
Track 03 Ain't Talkin'
Track 04 (audience)
Track 05 Like A Rolling Stone
Track 06 Band Intro's/talk
Track 07 All Along the Watchtower

An even better show tonight...5 more songs with Paul James, 4 of them new. Monster tunes: Tangled Up In Blue, Desolation Row, Man In the Long Black Coat, Simple Twist of Fate...tough to argue with those. Bob's also doing some weird shit with 'stacatto singing'...added something to Tangled...turned Desolation Row into a bit of spectacle. James energized Bob and this night it carried over to the band.

GM Center, Oshawa ON

1. The Wicked Messenger
2. Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues (Bob on harp center stage)
3. The Levee's Gonna Break
4. Tangled Up In Blue
5. High Water (for Charlie Patton)
6. Man In The Long Black Coat
7. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum (Bob center stage)
8. Desolation Row
9. 'Til I Fell In Love With You (Bob on harp center stage)
10. Simple Twist Of Fate
11. Honest With Me
12. When The Deal Goes Down
13. Highway 61 Revisited
14. Nettie Moore
15. Thunder On The Mountain

16. Like A Rolling Stone
17. All Along The Watchtower

So it seems the experiment with Paul James is continuing...only without Paul James. At the Sudbury show on Thursday Bob employed only Denny in the lead spot for 5 songs. Tonight in Kingston, Stu gets his turn...and he makes the most of it.

This show started well. The most enjoyable songs, other than the obvious THC with Bob on lead guitar, were songs I'm not normally keen about hearing. Maggies, LLL and MYFML were all interestingly different. This was balanced by the less than stellar renditions of a few songs I generally like; JLAW and Hwy61 in particular.

Bob Dylan
K-Rock Centre
Kingston ON

Disc 1
Track 01 Intro
Track 02 Maggies Farm
Track 03 Lay Lady Lay
Track 04 Things Have Changed
Track 05 Spirit on the Water
Track 06 Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum
Track 07 Just Like A Woman
Track 08 The Levees Gonna Break
Track 09 Make You Feel My Love
Track 10 Stuck Inside of Mobile (With the Memphis Blues Again)
Track 11 Ballad of Hollis Brown
Track 12 Honest With Me

Disc 2

Track 01 The Lonsesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Track 02 Highway 61
Track 03 Nettie Moore
Track 04 Thunder On the Mountain
Track 05 audience
Track 06 Like A Rolling Stone
Track 07 Band Intro
Track 08 All Along the Watchtower

It's been awhile since I've put back-to-back(skipashow)to-back Dylan nights together but the song breakdown looks real nice.

36 different songs out of 51 over three nights

Cat's In The Well 2008/11/11
Love Minus Zero/No Limit 2008/11/11
Masters Of War 2008/11/11
I'll Be Your Baby Tonight 2008/11/11
John Brown 2008/11/11
Beyond The Horizon 2008/11/11
Shooting Star 2008/11/11
It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) 2008/11/11
Under The Red Sky 2008/11/11
Ain't Talkin' 2008/11/11
The Wicked Messenger 2008/11/12
Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues 2008/11/12
Tangled Up In Blue 2008/11/12
High Water (For Charley Patton) 2008/11/12
Man In The Long Black Coat 2008/11/12
Desolation Row 2008/11/12
'Til I Fell In Love With You 2008/11/12
Simple Twist Of Fate 2008/11/12
When The Deal Goes Down 2008/11/12
Maggie's Farm 2008/11/15
Lay, Lady, Lay 2008/11/15
Things Have Changed 2008/11/15
Just Like A Woman 2008/11/15
Make You Feel My Love 2008/11/15
Ballad Of Hollis Brown 2008/11/15
The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll 2008/11/15 (26X1)

Spirit On The Water 2008/11/11,2008/11/15
Stuck Inside Of Mobile 2008/11/11,2008/11/15
Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum 2008/11/12,2008/11/15
Honest With Me 2008/11/12,2008/11/15
Nettie Moore 2008/11/12,2008/11/15 (5X2)

The Levee's Gonna Break 2008/11/11,2008/11/12,2008/11/15
Highway 61 Revisited 2008/11/11,2008/11/12,2008/11/15
Thunder On The Mountain 2008/11/11,2008/11/12,2008/11/15
Like A Rolling Stone 2008/11/11,2008/11/12,2008/11/15
All Along The Watchtower 2008/11/11,2008/11/12,2008/11/15 (5X3)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Joan Baez
Massey Hall

The first time I saw Joan Baez was in 1975...just a little before I saw Bob Dylan. This week I get the pleasure of seeing Joan the concert before I see Bob. Just a little curiousity.

Joanie was terrific. No time this week for more. Check out my friend Ray's blog for a review of another show from earlier this year.

Here's the Toronto set list with some mp3's.

Joan Baez
Massey Hall
Toronto ON

Disc 1

Track 01 Lily of the West (trad)
Track 02 talk
Track 03 The Scarlett Tide (Elvis Costello)
Track 04 God Is God (Steve Earle)
Track 05 Pretty Peggy-O (trad)
Track 06 Love Song To A Stranger (Joan Baez)
Track 07 Farewell Angelina (Bob Dylan)
Track 08 Old Gospel Ship (trad/Baez)
Track 09 talk/Mimi
Track 10 Catch the Wind (Donovan)
Track 11 talk/Earle
Track 12 Christmas In Washington (Steve Earle)
Track 13 Band Intro/talk
Track 14 talk/Peaches tease/tease?
Track 15 (What A) Wonderful World (Bob Thiele)
Track 16 Rose of Sharon (Eliza Gilkyson)
Track 17 talk/MLK

Disc 2

Track 01 Swing Low Sweet Chariot (trad)
Track 02 Day After Tomorrow (Tom Waits)
Track 03 Diamonds and Rust (Joan Baez)
Track 04 I Am A Wanderer (Steve Earle)
Track 05 Long Black Veil (Marijohn Wilkin)
Track 06 Love Is Just A Four Letter Word (Bob Dylan)
Track 07 talk/Cindy and Sarah
Track 08 Jerusalem (Steve Earle)
Track 09 encore/crowd/phasing for volume adj
Track 10 talk/ginko balboa
Track 11 The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (Robbie Robertson)
Track 12 Imagine (John Lennon)

Track 13 Amazing Grace (trad)

Mustard Plug @ The Kathedral
w/ Bomb the Music Industry
Keepin' 6 and Stop,Drop'N Skank

Mustard Plug were back in town with their "Black and White" yearly skafest. They brought along Bomb the Music Industry and filled out the gig with two local bands, Keepin' 6 and Stop, Drop N Skank.

It was the usual slamfest on the dance floor.

Surprise of the night was Keepin' 6...a fun band with a touch of the Pistols to them.

Stop Drop N Skank put in a nice set. They are maturing at a good clip and have managed to survive a 50% turnover in band members.

Here are the songs, as best I can figure out, and a few sound samples.

SkaFest 2008 Version starring

Stop Drop N Skank
Keepin' 6
Bomb The Music Industry
Mustard Plug

The Kathedral
Toronto ON

source:Church Audio Cardioids>CA STC-9000 Pre-Amp >Edirol R-09 at 24/48 >USB >Sonic Foundry 16bit wave>


recorded by Krewe Chief
Disc 1


Track 01 James Dean
Track 02
Track 03 Care House
Track 04 Rude Boi
Track 05 The Saviour
Track 06
Track 07 Ritalin Rock
Track 08 Screen From The Sun

Keepin' 6

Track 09
Track 10 Scapegoat
Track 11 Look @ What You Got
Track 12
Track 13 Killing In The Name (Rage Against the Machine)
Track 14 Breakdown
Track 15
Track 16
Track 17 1086

Disc 2

Bomb the Music Industry

Track 01 Congratulations, John, On Joining Everytime I Die
Track 02 King Of Minneapolis Pts 1 2 3 & 4
Track 03
Track 04 talk
Track 05 419 Ruth
Track 06
Track 07 Stand There Till You're Sober
Track 08 talk
Track 09 Gold Soundz(Pavement)
Track 10 talk
Track 11
Track 12

Disc 3

Mustard Plug

Track 01 Intro/Box
Track 02 Hit Me! Hit Me!
Track 03 You
Track 04 Someday, Right Now
Track 05 We Want Barack
Track 06 The Freshman (The Verve Pipe)
Track 07 Skank By Numbers
Track 08 Life Is Too Short
Track 09 Lolita
Track 10 Miss Michigan
Track 11 talk
Track 12 Go
Track 13 Real Rat Bastard
Track 14 talk
Track 15 Thigh High Nylons
Track 16 Brain On Ska
Track 17 Yesterday
Track 18 Band Intros
Track 19 ?
Track 20 talk
Track 21 Over The Edge
Track 22 talk
Track 23 Beer Song
Track 24 encore/crowd/talk
Track 25 Mr Smiley
Track 26 Mendoza

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Smashing Pumpkins
Massey Hall Toronto ON
2008-11-03 Night 1

Billy Corgan brought a group of friends he's calling The Smashing Pumpkins into Toronto last Monday for the first of a two night stand.

The art of this show, this tour, is variety.

Multiple shows in the same city will not repeat any songs...which is pretty challenging for the band and, as it turns out, for the audience.

I had high hopes for a pop-filled night of recognizable tunes since he was coming off a Hallowe'en Night show where he played an assortment of classics from the hey-day of radio pop, including, but not limited too; Louie Louie, Hang on Sloopy, Wipeout and In A Gadda Da Vida! We didn't get that version of "variety".

What we got was a cross between Oasis and Phish. A handful of punchy pop imbedded in a 2 hour and 37 minute jamfest that included 4 songs over 10 minutes in length and one 25 minute Pink Floyd cover that saw people leaving, some screaming.

They were rude and they were fools.

Billy closed the show with the kitchiest version of Ray Stevens' Everything Is Beautiful while lecturing and heckling the crowd.

Here's the setlist with some mp3 samples.

The Smashing Pumpkins
Massey Hall
Toronto ON
Night 1

Disc 1

01. Roctopus
02. Jimmy's Drum Solo
02. Everybody Come Clap
03. Tarantula
04. G.L.O.W.
05. Siva
06. Eye
07. Mayonaise
08. Tonight, Tonight
09. Speed Kills
10. Transformer
11. Superchrist

Disc 2

12. United States->Star Spangled Banner
13. Band Introductions
14. Once Upon a Time
15. Again, Again, Again (The Crux)
16. The Rose March
17. Banter
18. Today
19. Bullet with Butterfly Wings
20. The Beginning is the End is the Beginning
21. Heavy Metal Machine ->White Rabbit [Jefferson Airplane] ->YYZ [Rush] ->Tom Sawyer [Rush]
22. Glass' Theme

Disc 3

23. Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun [Pink Floyd]
24. We Only Come Out at Night
25. Everything's Beautiful (In Its Own Way) [Stevens]

Thursday, October 30, 2008

David Byrne
Massey Hall Toronto ON
Songs of Byrne/Eno

Talking Heads founder/frontman David Byrne treated us to a memorable dance through his collaborations with Brian Eno...and one or two other songs, depending on who's counting.

The show featured a number of tunes from the new e-record, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today; it opens with Strange Overtones and closes with the title song. In between we got One Fine Day,My Big Nurse, The River,Life Is Long, and I Feel My Stuff . Also included, a song not yet on record that is likely called I Never Thought.

Fear of Music was well represented with Life During Wartime being a highlight of the evening. I Zimbra, Heaven and Air were there to represent. Would have preferred Drugs and Cities.

Remain in Light was highlighted with The Great Curve, Houses in Motion, Crosseyed & Painless and Once in A Lifetime on the set list.

More Songs About Buildings and Food was woefully underrepresented. The track he did play, Take Me To The River, hardly even counts as an Eno/Byrne collaboration. Biggest disappointment of the night, not the specific song...the lack of more songs know.

My Life in the Bush of Ghosts had David singing the sampled portions of Help Me Somebody.

Even snuck in a song from The Catherine Wheel, My Big Hands (Fall Through The Cracks).

David is one of the gods of New Wave music. This show, though nowhere near the minimalist beauty of the early Heads, was less oppressively rhythmic than the tours we got in the mid-late 80's. The songs were lush, but with only two percussionists, a keyboardist, a bassist, David's lead guitar and the odd assistance on acoustic, it was still a far cry from the thick wall of sound we got when his band was approaching the size of Wassila, Alaska.

The new songs sound great on first listen...he hasn't lost his sardonic wit, that's for sure.

The only song performed that wasn't part of the Byrne/Eno ouevre was Burning Down the House...and it contained the only lyric flub of the night. Right where David should have been singing "Hold tight /wait till the partys over/Hold tight /were in for nasty weather /There has got to be a way /Burning down the house" we get "Hold tight /were in for nasty weather /Hold tight /whoooooaaaaaaa/There has got to be a way /Burning down the house". The look on David's face when he realized he jumped a line and threw in the 'whoa' was worth the price of admission.

David Byrne
Massey Hall
Toronto ON

Disc 1

Track 01 Intro/I'm Your Waiter
Track 02 Strange Overtones (from Everything That Happens...)
Track 03 I Zimbra (from Fear of Music)
Track 04 One Fine Day (from Everything That Happens...)
Track 05 Help Me Somebody (from My Life In the Bush of Ghosts)
Track 06 Houses In Motion (from Remain In Light)
Track 07 My Big Nurse (from Everything That Happens...)
Track 08 My Big Hands (Fall Through the Cracks) (from The Catherine Wheel)
Track 09 Heaven (from Fear of Music)
Track 10 I Never Thought(?)new song, not on record
Track 11 The River (from Everything That Happens...)
Track 12 Crosseyed and Painless (from Remain In Light)
Track 13 Life Is Long (from Everything That Happens...)

Disc 2

Track 01 Once In A Lifetime (from Remain In Light)
Track 02 Life During Wartime (from Fear of Music)
Track 03 I Feel My Stuff (from Everything That Happens...)
Track 04 (audience/band intro)
encore 1
Track 05 Take Me To The River (from More Songs About Buildings and Food)
Track 06 The Great Curve (from Remain In Light)
Track 07 (audience)
encore 2
Track 08 Air (from Fear of Music)
Track 09 Burning Down the House (from Speaking in Tongues)
encore 3
Track 10 Everything that Happens (from Everything That Happens...)

Complete Show in FLAC format

Friday, October 10, 2008

Steve Forbert
The Studio @ Hamilton Place

Steve Forbert's been a favourite since he first burst onto the scene with the albatross "The Next Dylan" hung around his neck with a coat-hanger harmonica rack. He even went through similar changes...from acoustic folk to a folk rock sound. Don't believe he dipped into the born-again persona though.

He had his kick at the can early in his career and never garnered the status or acclaim he deserved...but he's still out there playing to those who remember and his sets are a hidden gem in the busy Toronto concert calendar. I'm not in Toronto to see him due to a conflict with last night's NOFX show and because he was at Hugh's Room. I won't sit through another show with clanging dinner dishes unless there's no choice. The cozy confines of The Studio, a mere hour away from home, is an excellent alternative. There's about a hundred of us gathered at 20 tables. I spend the first set in front of a talkative group who didn't go one complete song without partaking in a four-way conversation. For the second set I moved over to the other side and found myself near Sir Clap-A-Lot. Much as a loud clapper can be instrusive on a recording I really don't begrudge them enjoying themselves. The 'off topic' talkers are just a rude bunch.

Very loose show. Just Steve with an acoustic, his harmonica and a stomping board. Lots of chatter with the audience, maybe too much in the second half as people started acting like we were all sitting in their living room. Even took a handful of requests and did a few covers.

Steve Forbert
The Studio @ Hamilton Place

Set 1

Track 01 Thinkin'
Track 02 The American In Me
Track 03 Autumn This Year
Track 04 Any Old Time (Hank Snow)
Track 05 Goin' Down To Laurel
Track 06 Oh Yesterday
Track 07 Away Out On The Mountain (Jimmie Rodgers)
Track 08 Early Mornin' Rain (Gordon Lightfoot)
Track 09 Song For Katrina
Track 10 Baby Don't
Track 11 Bagdhad Dream
Track 12 I Just Work Here
Track 13 Complications
Track 14 Say Goodbye To Little Jo

Set 2

Track 01 Wild As The Wind
Track 02 Big City Cat
Track 03 Hang On Till The Sun Shines (?)
Track 04 Good Planets Are Hard To Find
Track 05 Rock Show (?)
Track 06 The Sweet Love That You Give (Sure Goes A Long Long Way)
Track 07 Starstruck
Track 08 It Sure Was Better Back Then
Track 09 There's Everybody Else (And Then There's You)
Track 10 Middle Age
Track 11 About A Dream
Track 12 What Kinda Guy
Track 13 January 23-30,1978
Track 14 Good Night Interlude (?)
Track 15 Romeo's Tune
Track 16 Thirty More Years
Track 17 You Cannot Win, If You Do Not Play


Another raucous show with a punk band at the KOOL HAUS.

Long night too. Too long for some.

A half-hour + from Montreal based Grimskunk to open. These guys are very good considering they're the first of 4 bands on the bill tonight. The two guitar players especially, who filled the hall with some deft duo work a la Arctic Monkeys.

Local darlings The Flatliners put in an energetic and improved set over their showing at the Rancid show. Much tighter. The sound was better too, which didn't hurt.

Less impressive were Dillinger Four, who, fortunately, put in a shorter set than The Flatliners. The set was livened up by a heckler standing nearby who continually shouted "Nice beard!" at the portly lead singer.

The crowd was pumped and drunk by the time NOFX hit the stage at 10:20 pm. In spite of this they were well-behaved, for the most part, until a major brawl broke out in my vicinity with about three songs to go. What started as two guys lying on the beer-soaked floor throwing rabbit punches, escalated to a scrum of 6-8 flailing arms and legs bowling it's way across the floor. I managed to surf the outside of the wave all the way from the right speaker stacks to in front of the soundboard. Didn't get hit once. Never got doused with beer all night either, so I guess I had that going for me.

NOFX had done a show the night before and open this one by proclaiming they'd done away with the hits and were going to play "songs of the heart". I'm not so familiar with their catalogue so I can't speak to the rarity of the songs played but they did seem to be rummaging around for some artifacts of the past.

Their self-deprecating stage patter was amusing, moreso than the gutter-humour that surrounded their political musings or the spectacle of an armless dwarf being tossed into the audience to crowd surf. (Note: Actually, the toss was all in good fun and all participants were willing.) Great interaction with the mistaking their agenda...a good time for all, especially the one up front who refused to smile.

Toronto ON

Disc 01 (50:04)
Track 01 Intro - talk/Songs of the Heart
Track 02 Pharmacists Daughter (Pump Up The Valuum,2000 )
Track 03 Fuck The Kids (46 or 46 Songs That Weren't Good Enough To Go On Our Other Records,2002 )
Track 04 Linoleum (Punk In Drublic, 1994)
Track 05 Seeing Double At The Triple Rock (Wolves In Wolves Clothing,2006 )
Track 06 Quart In Session (So Long And Thanks For All The Shoes, 1997)
Track 07 Soul Doubt (White Trash, Two Heebs And A Bean, 1992)
Track 08 Eat The Meek (So Long And Thanks For All The Shoes,1997 )
Track 09 The Man I Killed (Wolves In Wolves Clothing,2006 )
Track 10 There's No Fun In Fundamentalism (7" of the Month Club, April 2005)
Track 11 Murder the Government/Many Rivers To Cross/Murder reprise (So Long And Thanks For All The Shoes,1997 )
Track 12 Reeko (Punk In Drublic, 1994)
Track 13 Leaving Jesusland (Wolves In Wolves Clothing,2006 )
Track 14 I'm Telling Tim (So Long And Thanks For All The Shoes,1997 )
Track 15 Champ Elysees (So Long And Thanks For All The Shoes,1997 )
Track 16 talk
Track 17 She's Nubs (The War on Errorism, 2003)

Disc 2

Track 01 Radio (Rancid)
Track 02 It's My Job To Keep Punk Rock Elite (So Long And Thanks For All The Shoes,1997 )
Track 03 Leave It Alone (Punk In Drublic, 1994)
Track 04 Whoops, I Od'd (The War on Errorism, 2003)
Track 05 Bottles To The Ground (Pump Up The Valuum, 2000)
Track 06 Don't Call Me White (Pump Up The Valuum,2000 )
Track 07 Kill All The White Man (I Heard They Suck Live, 1995)
Track 08 Louise (Pump Up The Valuum, 2000)
Track 09 Theme From A NOFX Album (Pump Up The Valuum,2000 )

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Alice Cooper
Great Hall, Hamilton Place

Excerpt from Confessions of A Dylanomaniac

"the first concert I attended was held on Labour Day, September 02, 1972 at a mid-sized outdoor venue called Varsity Stadium, home of the University of Toronto Football Blues. in attendance, a large crowd of friends, at least 10-12 of us, most from the eatery where we all held summer jobs, others from the neighborhood we’d taken to hanging out during that summer joined us for the event.

I learned a lot of things at this show…one of them has stuck with me ever since. anxiously awaiting the opening of the doors I stand in the thick crowd, ticket held aloft in my right hand, when, pffft!, ticket’s gone. some one has wrenched it from my hands. I turn to look and they’re gone. well, not quite gone, but one of 10,000 possible freaks I see in the gathered multitudes. fortune smiles though, it was taken by someone in our party. he hands it back to me, warning me to take better care of my ticket. to this day, I am obsessive about leaving my ticket in my pocket until the moment I reach the turnstiles.

the other thing I learned: there IS better living through chemistry. already down the hatch are two hits of acid, soon to be chased by a nice chunk of black hash with the little white opium specs. too young to drink I was perfectly prepared for what was to come. even so, I still haven’t recovered.

this is the School’s Out Tour I guess. though it may have been the Killer Tour. Alice was doing the fake hanging scene near the close of the show. the set list consisted entirely of known songs from his third to sixth albums (Love It To Death, Killer, School’s Out and Billion Dollar Babies, none from the debut Pretties For You or the follow-up Easy Action).

as the show progresses the overcast clouds take on a more ominous look. brief flashes of lightning can be seen in the night sky…if you look fast enough. I was catching the trails mostly. a slight drizzle started to fall as Alice took to the scaffolding and the music built to a crescendo. the trapdoor opens, thunder cracks, the lights go out, someone begins to shout…no, wait, it didn’t go down in exactly that manner, but close. little did I know I’d just seen a master artist at the top of his creative game, if not the top of his ability to technically dazzle. some one who built a story out of a show. might have been the acid, might have been the company or it might have been the convergence of weather and art to create a canvass of music and wonderment, I just don’t know, but man, I left that show thinking this rock and roll stuff was pretty cool.

there was another lesson learned this evening: know their songs well before you start sinking your money into concert tickets. knowledge makes the night more enjoyable. doesn’t mean the set lists can’t be shaken up, doesn’t mean the melody can’t be reworked or the lyrics can’t be altered. those are all good things in a live show, elements I thoroughly enjoy about the art of live music. being prepared just enhances the experience. back in the day I was going to these shows, and the decade and a half that followed, it cost the same to purchase the new album as it did to see the live show ($5-$15 Cdn). with some artists, people chose to see the show instead of buy the album. other times they bought the album and skipped the show. doing the first with Mi-Sex and the latter with Iggy Pop would have been the right move. me, I bought the album and went to the show. most of the time it paid off. on this night, with Alice Cooper on stage, it was like reading from a book, book of the dead perhaps, the show was as scripted as a preteen wedding in Arkansas."

Here's the set list from that 1972 show.

Alice Cooper 1972-09-02 alt
Varsity Arena Toronto ON
01 Public Animal #9 / 02 Caught In A Dream>Under My Wheels>Be My Lover>I'm Eighteen / 03 Is It My Body>My Very Own / 04 Halo of Flies /
05 Gutter Cat vs. Jets / 06 Street Fight / 07 Killer>Long Way To Go>School's Out

Man, that was a long time ago. Let's see how the old guy's doing a mere 36 years later.

First, a 10 song opening set by CanCon sweethearts, Econoline Crush. They didn't get much of a stir from the crowd; their effort deserved a better response. One thing is evident...besides the fact everyone's here for Alice, the BASS is onsale tonight, so we're gonna use it all.

Lights go down at 9:10 pm and we're treated to a sword-fight in silhouettes.

Alice puts on a great show. He's got a shit-load of albums to choose from but he doesn't lose sight of the gems he created early in his career, those songs from 1971-1973 are sprinkled throughout the show and everyone of them energizes the crowd. He introduces a few new songs from the 2008 release Along Came A Spider and dips into his catalogue for a handful of other enduring tunes, making this a more than decent career retrospective if you want to mostly forget about the '80's. And who doesn't want to forget about the '80's? There's a long list of '60's and '70's stars who turned into pumpkins when Reagan was elected and didn't revive their careers until Bill was in da House.

Theatrically the show is a 'small venue' stage set...nothing too extravagant but a great drama enacted through the show. It's like Shakespear with a soundtrack. Alice is joined onstage by his dancing daughters and we get an assortment of horrific scenes from a slit-jugular (with some distance on the squirt), to a pummeled baby and the scaffold for the hanging scene.

Here's the full set list, with some mp3 samples:

Alice Cooper
Hamilton Place

Disc 1

Track 01 It's Hot Tonight (Lace and Whiskey, 1977)
Track 02 No More Mr Nice Guy (Billion Dollar Babies, 1973)
Track 03 Under My Wheels (Killer, 1971)
Track 04 I'm Eighteen (Love It To Death, 1971)
Track 05 Is It My Body? (Love It To Death, 1971)
Track 06 Woman of Mass Distraction (Dirty Diamonds, 2005)
Track 07 Lost In America (The Last Temptation, 1994)
Track 08 Feed My Frankenstein (Hey Stoopid, 1991)
Track 09 Guitar Interlude
Track 10 Be My Lover (Killer, 1971)
Track 11 (In Touch With) Your Feminine Side (Along Came A Spider, 2008)
Track 12 Dirty Diamonds (Dirty Diamonds, 2005)
Track 13 Vengence Is Mine (Along Came A Spider, 2008)
Track 14 Halo of Flies /Drum solo (Killer, 1971)

Disc 2

Track 01 Welcome To My Nightmare (Welcome To My Nightmare, 1975)
Track 02 Cold Ethyl (Welcome To My Nightmare, 1975)
Track 03 Only Women Bleed (Welcome To My Nightmare, 1975)
Track 04 Steven (Welcome To My Nightmare, 1975)
Track 05 Dead Babies (Killer, 1971)
Track 06 Ballad of Dwight Fry (Love It To Death, 1971)
Track 07 I Love The Dead (Billion Dollar Babies, 1973)
Track 08 School's Out (School's Out, 1972)
Track 09 (encore, audience)
Track 10 Billion Dollar Babies (Billion Dollar Babies, 1973)
Track 11 Poison (Trash, 1989)
Track 12 Elected (Billion Dollar Babies, 1973)

Monday, September 22, 2008

New Kids On The Block
ACC Toronto ON

OK, so this one takes me a little off the beaten path.

Took my daughter and her cousin to see this one. If I can spend a few grand a year revisiting the music of my past by seeing the likes of Cohen, Springsteen, Dylan and David Byrne, then these 25 year old cuties should have the same chance.

Too bad the music of their past sucks.

Just kiddin'. Of all the 'boy bands' these guys, especially early, were the most worthwhile. I think of them as The Monkees of the late '80's. They had some solid songs behind them, with a little wit, unlike the dross wet-t-shirt-standing-in-the-rain-buffed-and-tattooed crap that came with the early '90's and bands like Backstreet Boys and 'Nsync. For the first two-and-a-half records this band was fresh and were legitimate descendants of the likes of The Temptations, or at least The Chi-Lites.

NKOTB have been receiving tepid reviews for the launch of this tour in Toronto and it's a disservice. It's a risk to put this kind of venture together. Depending on the mood of the times you can be dismissed as self-indulgent (Spice Girls), revered beyond comfort (Leonard Cohen), or damned with faint praise. The latter is what's happening with this tour. The trouble the reviewers are having is the show is too good to criticize but they just don't have the chutzpah to admit it's authenticity lies in the unabashed joy shared by all present.

I've seen a lot of shows but I've never seen 20,000 people scream non-stop for two hours. I was too young for the early Beatles and too old for the hey-day of the '90's pop-revival. Even in my time I avoided the "big" shows, for the most part. I was dragged to the stadium shows by Supercramp and Fleetwood Crap but usually preferred the smaller halls that housed The Clash and The Ramones, so this type of 'love fest' is a little new to me.

If you measure the success of a show by the response of the crowd, this one was over the top. Every little dance move was replicated...and received with deafening cheers. Each of the performers, especially the three leads, Donny, Joey and Jordan, engaged the audience every minute of the show. Jordan in particular filled the arena screens with a beaming smile all night. A mid-show relocation to a small stage at the back end of the floor gave some lucky fans the opportunity to press flesh with their childhood idols. The boys even took the time to take photo's of each other onstage, using camera's the fans were handing up.

The onstage patter, while a tad formulaic, was endearing. Following Jordan's delivery of I'll Be Lovin' You (Forever) Donny takes a mic to centre stage and is stopped dead by a blistering 4 minute ovation. The crowd just wouldn't let him say "thanks". With the giant screen showing a close-up he took off his glasses, eyes brimmed with tears, voice choking...and let the crowd enjoy the effect they were having on the artist. Another small gift, fully appreciated by all.
He finds a voice to scream out ..."Thank you so much, thank you so much for making the impossible, possible. Thank you so much for showing the world that all those little girls and 5 crazy assed kids from Boston knew what the hell they were talking about!"

And there lies the rub. What a terrific reunion, all in good fun, everyone giving themselves a little time for nostalgia. Of course, it wasn't all looking back. They did no less than 8 songs from their new release, The Block. Good news is...those songs didn't drag the show down. I mean the video duet with the Pussycat Girl girl was border-line lame and the Dirty Dancing showcase was just some eye-candy but Single, Twisted and Summertime sounded like they were yanked out of the past.

The show is well paced, filled with hits, and the new songs sound and feel like they were made for the band. Well, they almost were. The new record is the brain-child and artistic creation of a local kid, Nasri,who was presented with a gold record during the encore break. The lights and stage settings, while not quite reaching the heights of NIN's current configuration, were well done, not over done, and served the set well.

Here's the complete set list and a few song samples.

New Kids On The Block
ACC Toronto ON

Donny Wahlberg
Jordan Knight
Joey McIntyre
Danny Wood
Jonathan Knight

Disc 1

Track 01 Single (from The Block)
Track 02 My Favourite Girl (from Hangin' Tough)
Track 03 (You Got It) The Right Stuff (from Hangin' Tough)
Track 04 Didn't I (Blow Your Mind) (from NKOTB)
Track 05 Please Don't Go Girl (from Hangin' Tough)
Track 06 Grown Man (from The Block)
Track 07 Donny Talks Trash/Crowd Pump
Track 08 Games (from Step By Step)
Track 09 If You Go Away (from NKOTB Tour Collection)
Track 10 2 In the Morning (from The Block)
Track 11 Dirty Dancing (from The Block)
Track 12 Danny Talks, Breast Cancer Awareness/Donny Talks
Track 13 Tonight (from Step By Step)
Track 14 Big Girl Now w/ Lady GaGa (from The Block)
Track 15 Twisted (from The Block)
Track 16 Give It To You (Jordan Knight solo)
Track 17 Stay The Same (Joey McIntyre solo)

Disc 2

Track 01 Cover Girl (from Hangin' Tough)
Track 02 I'll Be Lovin' You (Forever) (from Hangin' Tough)
Track 03 Donny Talks/4 minute ovation
Track 04 Click Click Click (from The Block)
Track 05 Joey talks/Nazri/Gold Record Presentation
Track 06 Summertime (from The Block)
Track 07 encore break
Track 08 Step By Step (from Step By Step)
Track 09 Hangin' Tough (from Hangin' Tough)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Vermillion Lies
Sister Cabaret
The Rivoli Toronto ON

Probably like nothing you've seen before...though your grandmother may have kicked up her heels to the Boekbinder girls ancestors.

Vermillion Lies is what you get when you pour a healthy dose of Vaudeville, a few parts Bozo the Clown, a dash of Greenwich Village, a pinch of Haight-Asbury and a dollop of Liza Minelli into your local dump for antiquities and give it a good stir. I don't think even that description covers it all.

A couple of cuties who hail from ... not sure actually, but they're out of the Bay Area now. They were in Toronto this past August, opening for Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls, and have returned for what appears to be a quick 'one-off' date.

Perhaps they have family here. Perhaps they like the green.

The Rivoli is fast becoming a favoured tiny venue. Best part is there's no climbing up any stairs. In the heart of Toronto's trendy Queen St West area it's a premiere indi-spotlight club. It may soon find itself fighting the gentrification of the area, and last winter's fire didn't help as we'll likely see condo's rise like the Phoenix. Some are fighting that plan, let's hope good taste wins out over commerce.

So what's in the box?

Well we're going to have to wait a bit to find out. Zoey's high-school friend Kay Pettigrew is onstage tuning a guitar in preparation for a short opening set. She's got a whole 'billy bragg' thing going, with only the electric guitar to accompany her, but she's much easier on the eyes. And strong songs. A bit too much stage chatter with Zoey, sitting behind the curtains but it was more amusing than annoying.

VM's stage-manager-cum-tour manager-cum-hawker-cum-buddy, Dakota, catches me by surprise when she announces she usually opens with a spoken word, performance piece set. I choose not to record thinking i'd run out of disc space, but she does just one quick number before launching into her introduction to the girls. Almost missed the start, sorry I missed her poem on working in an office.

Zoey starts the show with Done Wrong, a tale about a girl who just can't seem to follow the conventions, doomed to always take the wrong path...and she don't care. Lovely telling couplet in the middle of this song: "my man asks me if i've finished my cleaning/i left him on the doorstep yelling and screaming." And that ain't the half of what's gonna happen to him.

She follows that with a new song, soon to be featured on a 7" release, the beyond bi-curious, Bonnie and Clyde. A little equal opportunity dust bowl lovin' on the lam.

So it's apparent early that we're not getting the normal rock n roll subject matter.

The flip side of the upcoming 7" is New Orleans...a jazzy love tune for a city in need of some.

Long Red Hair continues the pattern of songs about things you wouldn't much think about. Sisters joined at the follicles, rosy and fair, and a man who while trying to come between them, destroys it all.

Ahhhh, now for something in the normal range, a song written on Valentines Day. Maybe. Actually it's more like the precursor to Done Wrong. No Good is a warning, if there ever was one. A unlove letter, complete with manual typewriter.

Now it's time: What's in the box? Part 1 The girls have a trunk that contains various percussion instruments, though intstruments might not be the right word. It's filled with things that make noise...some are found items, others were given, not a one would be found in your average band. First out...a bar-b-que grill.

Found Myself is exactly that...a revelation, a coming of age song, a post-breakup rebirth with the catchy chorus of "today i found myself/ right where i left me / up on that shelf." It even has a mono-syllabic Russian verse and audience sing-a-long.

Next up, one of the three top contenders for strangest song of the night. Well, one of the three finalists, they were all contenders. I Have Your Heart is not the love song you might think it is. You don't get many tunes about transplants.

We're back in the box and this time we get.... a little box! Inside the little box, a little man. A marionette, so i guess it's a stringed instrument, not percussion.

Blue proves they didn't learn the lesson from the Found Myself relationship, and now find themselves alone with company and regretting it. "I'd rather spend the night alone/ in my room / than spend the night alone with you."

Grandfather is finalist #2 of 3..."we want our Grandfathers eyes..." A cutting look at what comes out the mouth of babes.

The girls follow with a clap-a-long song, tantalizingly named She Comes. It's a door-knocking song, though, not what you think. It builds into a funky toe-tapper.

Enough with the sweet and light...time for some vitriol. Wednesday's Child is a song about how the week looks from hump-day. Let me tell you...full of woe doesn't have a lot of time for the Sabbath kid. Nice little tongue-in-cheek twist on the closing line.

Bees laments what the cell phones are doing.Dakota is back onstage lending some theatrics and backing vocals, playing the part of the doomed apodias.

Finalist # 3 of 3, Sex, Drugs and Nuclear Physics, is great look at the laws of attraction...and a few other laws too. It leads to another science song, The Astronomer before the girls revist another freak-collage from the first record, Circus Fish. Somewhere in between we revisited the box to pull out some ... panties, an instrument of torture! Not the bad kind...the excruciatingly good kind.

They've done a great job engaging the audience all night. Everyone's had a great time, from Mothers friends, to the Amanda Palmer fans who returned for a reprise, to myself, a newcomer to the mix.

Main set closes with a 6 minute homage to the planet, Global Warming...more audience participation and an enthusiastic call-back for an encore.

We first get another peak into the box for a variety of instruments/furnishings, including a heating vent, played by an audience member.

The show closes with White Picket, a rarely played stomp-a-long. Fitting song to close a night of songs filled with perilous and peculiar relationships.

Here's the complete set list, with some song samples.

Vermillion Lies
The Rivoli
Toronto ON

Track 01 Done Wrong
Track 02 Bonnie & Clyde
Track 03 New Orleans
Track 04 Long Red Hair
Track 05 No Good
Track 06 What's In The Box? Bar-b-que Grill version
Track 07 Found Myself
Track 08 I Have Your Heart
Track 09 What's In the Box?
Track 10 Blue
Track 11 Grandfather
Track 12 She Comes
Track 13 Wednesday's Child
Track 14 Bees
Track 15 Sex, Drugs and Nuclear Physics
Track 16 The Astronomer
Track 17 What's In the Box?
Track 18 Circus Fish
Track 19 Global Warming
Track 20 encore
Track 21 What's In the Box?
Track 22 White Picket

Friday, September 05, 2008

Robert Gordon
w/ Chris Spedding
Cadillac Lounge Toronto ON

For this years version of Robert and Chris we decided to see if we had the staying power to do two sets in one night. Still appreciative that these guys find their way to this city once or twice a concert bang for the buck. Still not sure why we get these appearances. As Robert noted during the night he only gets together with this band every 4 months or so. The Detroit based rhythm section seems to be on retainer and Chris Spedding's pre-show whereabouts is a mystery.

To add to the enjoyment we booked a hotel just a short streetcar ride, or long walk, away from the bar. No driving, that's a bonus. We get time for a pre-show meal at a local Roncesvalles Village open kitchen. Brief walk along Queen St West to peruse some antiquities and boutiques. A couple/few drinks in our room to get us well lubed before we head to the Caddy. At the Cadillac Lounge renovations are underway. Owner Sam Grosso is taking over the building next door. For now the hole in the wall is covered with tarp but it won't be long before this place almost doubles in size. It'll be interesting to see if that results in more acts...perhaps lifting the Caddy to the level of Hugh's Room as a showcase venue.

They did a great job getting the show started. Doors were set for 8 and by 8:30 the band was on starting the early portion.

Tonight's set was a little looser than the shows from the past few years. A few cuties in the crowd, most notably a couple 30+somethings, all platinum-blondes adorned in bustiers and a younger even more energetic couple of girls, who rimmed the stage, added a saucy component to the nights activities.

Robert had a couple lyric flubs, most notably on set one's Hello Walls were he transposed a couplet from the ceiling verse into the window verse, missing the 'tear/pane' lines. During Suspicion he was momentarily distracted while holding the hand of yet another adoring female fan in the front row and he did the same thing...pulled a couplet from the next verse. Here he repeated "why can't our romance keep growing stronger", instead of holding her hand while exclaiming "why does our romance keep causing sorrow". I like to think he did it on purpose. I believe he stumbled briefly in Walk On By as well...but handled them all like a pro, not missing a beat.

Chris was a little slow out of the box the first set as well. Which is to say he was simply amazing most of the time. My favourite guitarist out a class with Jack White and Jr Brown, for his ability to fill every piece of time with something interesting.

Between sets the 'hockey moms' had bassist Greasy Carlisi well pinned in a corner of the outdoor patio. Todd Glass was bouncing around as well, everybody getting a couple beers in before the midnight set.

Had an opportunity to talk briefly to Robert. I don't usually seek out the artists, figuring I'm like every other fan who has nothing to say but "Hey man, really dug the set," or something equally inane. But I did have a tale to tell him. So I start with a handshake and "Robert, I just want to thank you for coming this way a couple times a year. Your show's always in my top 5 of the year." D!oh

I had more to say though because back in November of '05 I was in London watching Bob Dylan do a Brixton Academy stand. Link Wray, who was Robert's guitar player in the '70's and '80's, had recently passed away. Bob opened 4 of the 5 nights with Rumble, Link's signature tune. As drunk as I was I thought that Robert Gordon would probably like to know this. As it turns out, he wasn't aware and seemed genuinely pleased to find out, saying, "Ahh, that was really nice of him." "And he's got my bass player, Tony" he says, referring to Tony Garnier who was with Robert in the late '80's before joining Dylan's Never Ending Tour in 1989. Robert moves over to the bar, leaning over for support, it seems he's having some trouble with his back tonight. Now he's got something to share about Bob: "Dylan came to see Link and I in London, (This would likely have been in the early to mid 80's) and he was pitching me some songs. He had 8 or 9 and he'd play one and I'd go 'hrrrmpph'. He plays another and I go, 'naaaaahhhrrr'. I was in a bad way back then, don't know what I was thinking." Robert goes on to say he should be opening for Bob, that would be a gig. I tell him Bob's mired in some Civil-War motif now and it would be best to wait awhile. Gotta wonder what songs Bob was floating though. Maybe I'll ask next time he's in town.

The second set was much better; the girls were bouncier, Chris found a ton of transcendant moments delivering his best-ever Guitar Jamboree. Robert was enjoying the crowd as much as we were him. Unfortunately my recording was marred by a strong air-conditioning system and an incessant buzz in the PA. Not my enjoyment of the set, though.

Here are some songs and sound samples:

Early Show

Robert's Set
Track 01 The Way I Walk
Track 02 I'm Gonna Be Your Loverboy Tonight
Track 03 Hello Walls
Track 04 I'm A Hot Rod
Track 05 Suspicion
Track 06 Look Who's Blue
Track 07 Fire
Track 08 Barry White Interlude
Track 09 Wild Wild Women

Chris' Set
Track 10 Instrumental
Track 11 Shakin' All Over
Track 12 Wild Thing
Track 13 Guitar Jamboree
Track 14 Motorbikin'

Robert's Second Set
Track 15 Beside You
Track 16 Mess O' The Blues
Track 17 Devil In Disguise
Track 18 Walk On By
Track 19 A Picture of You (John James Beveridge - Peter Andrew Ooakman)
Track 20 Move It (and Groove It)
Track 21 There You Go
Track 22 Bertha Lou
Track 23 Rockabilly Boogie
Track 24 Red Hot

Late Show

Robert's First Set
Track 01 The Way I Walk
Track 02 I'm Gonna Be Your Loverboy Tonight
Track 03 Hello Walls
Track 04 I'm A Hot Rod
Track 05 Suspicion
Track 06 Look Who's Blue
Track 07 Lonely Weekends
Track 08 Fire
Track 09 Wild Wild Women

Chris' Set
Track 10 Instrumental
Track 11 Shakin' All Over
Track 12 Wild Thing
Track 13 Guitar Jamboree
Track 14 Motorbikin'

Disc 2

Roberts Second Set
Track 01 Beside You
Track 02 Mess O' The Blues
Track 03 Bad Boy
Track 04 Move It
Track 05 Walk On By
Track 06 Devil In Disguise
Track 07 I Just Found Out
Track 08 Rockabilly Boogie
Track 09 Red Hot

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Faint
Opera House
Toronto ON

This one wasn't even on my radar, not close. Got a last minute invitation (actually at 2 am of the same day as I was returning from Dylan in Hamilton) 'cause someone backed out of the show. Traded even...a ticket for a recording.

So I go in here knowing nothing about The Faint. I'm sure their songs have filled the airwaves on our 'alternative' station in Toronto but time and circumstance determine who you clue into and who you don't. They had a couple things going against them...Omaha?, for one. The fact I thought the late '90's was a time for more garage rock (a la White Stripes) rather than a reversion to techno-dance. (Plus, any association with Conor Oberst puts you in the 'suspect', not 'prospect' file.) Oh, and my age, as I was as unlikely to cotton to this generations version of disco as I was to do it in the '70's.

Nice crowd they pull in though. It's like it's 50% club-night, 50% concert. It's at least 50% female, which you don't see much. This is likely due to the strong representation of girlswhowanttobewiththegirls. A little colour was added to the proceedings in the guise of a visit from Josie and the Pussycats...4 tightly packaged cuties with the whole motif...platinum blond, fiery red-head, sultry brunette and cute as a button African-American. We had girls in leather and girls in satin. We had wine sippers and beer chuggers. Mini-skirts and cleavage, a little bit of everything.

It would have made for great gawking if the site of that wouldn't have been so unsavory. I must remember sunglasses and earplugs for the next concert.

Genghis Tron opened the evening. And they are what the name promises; the audio equivalent of stampeding hordes and the movie Tron. It's screamo at it's screamiest. Lots of synths and distorted lyrics. I'd say they are band #13 of out of the 3 that will get any airplay. 'Course if they hang in there they might move up, I gotta imagine these guys blow their vocal chords well before they're 30.

Next up, more screaming...but more melody too. The lead singer of Jaguar Love was like a cross between Bon Scott and Little Richard. Too much affectation, not enough soul.

The Faint hit the stage, bracketed by two coffins and led by the goggle bespectacled...ah, you know what? I don't have the energy to deconstruct this band.
Enough to say they were well received by the crowd of over 800 enthusiastic fans. Most seem to have gotten what they came for, even if reviews of the new record are a little sketchy.

Here are the songs and some mp3 samples.

The Faint
The Opera House
Toronto ON

Source:Church Audio Cardioids>CA STC-9000 Pre-Amp >Edirol R-09 at 24/48 >USB >Sonic Foundry 16bit wave> FlacFrontend
Recorded by Krewe Chief

Track 01 Agenda Suicide
Track 02 Dropkick the Punks
Track 03 Take Me To The Hosipital
Track 04 Machine In The Ghost
Track 05 Desperate Guys
Track 06 Forever Growing Centipedes
Track 07 Birth
Track 08 Your Retro Career Melted
Track 09 I Treat You Wrong
Track 10 Psycho
Track 11 Posed to Death
Track 12 Get Seduced
Track 13 I Disappear
Track 14 In Concert
Track 15 Mirror Error
Track 16 Worked Up, So Sexual
Track 17 encore/crowd
Track 18 Paranoia Attack
Track 19 The Geeks Were Right
Track 20 Glass Danse

Robert Gordon
with Chris Spedding
Cadillac Lounge Toronto ON

We're coming up on 4 years running where I haven't missed a chance to see Robert Gordon during his Caddy stand.

Check out my review of the 2006 show.

On Saturday September 6th, 2008 he's doing two shows at the Cadillac Lounge.

8pm and Midnight.

Don't dare miss it!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bob Dylan
The Show

Trying to think of what to say but having as much trouble getting excited about the prospect as Bob was having getting excited about doing a live show. I have never seen such a dour bunch of guys loping through the songs like it was a penance. I've got to believe it's on purpose. There's no way 6 different guys could all look, in the words of Leonard Cohen, "like their father or their dog just died."

This is not hyperbole, to which I am prone.

Everything in this show, for good or bad, is highly choreographed and planned...from where you stand to what you wear to when you play. These guys have been paid to not smile. There were about 7 seconds total in the whole show where someone broke rank. Recile dropped a little triplet at the end of song and Bob smiled (1.5 seconds), Donny's eyes lit up a tad (2.0 seconds) and Stu breyed like a giddy donkey (3.5 seconds).

That was it.

Other than that we got a display of what 30 years of myopia will do to your facial expressions. Oh, and three droplets of sweat.

Bob's penchant for not engaging his audience is legend. He's elevated the art from the minimalist stage chatter, "Thank You, Friends", to turning his back on half the arena with his current keyboard configuration. That's well enough. Perhaps the sheer genius behind this, the deep underlying message which no doubt centers around who owns the artist, as opposed to the art, will become apparent in some distant year when the last Dylanologists are dissecting what's left of Bob.

However is there really a need to drag the other guys into this?

That being said, it's as hard to find fault with the performance as it is to point to moments of high art. While the band is never set free to express themselves outside the limited bounds Dylan has set for this revue, they are more than proficient and even excellent at times. Stu Kimball has been given a solo electric spot in High Water. Denny Freeman does some very nimble work with a slide sleeve on Rollin' and Tumblin'. Recile is hitting the skins and cymbals with more force and volume than over the past couple years. Tony is Tony. Bob is Bob. Donny is the most underused talent in any live band...which ain't an easy title to capture when you're in the same band as Stu.

Overall better than expected, not better than desired. This show probably cracks my top 100 all time, due mostly to my having seen a half dozen the past couple years.

So wha' happened?

4 MT songs...and if that's not bad enough, they were the highlights. When The Deal Goes Down is my favourite of the 'soft' songs on this record, and we didn't get anymore (read: Spirit, Horizon) Only my second Ain't Talkin' ever and it may have been the best song of the night. Rollin' and Tumblin' and Thunder On The Mountain, as a pair, were the equal of LARS and Watchtower as far as the band playing was concerned. All of them very good tonight.

I always enjoy Cat's In the Well so that was a decent opener. The delayed crowd recognition of It Ain't Me Babe was worth a chuckle. Both Mobile and GofNC have long since worn their welcome.

The crowd tried it's best to take over the chorus on Just Like A Woman, and Bob gave them a little space to vent before he jammed the lines into the last quarter-bar of music.

Highway 61 was revitalized from it's languid state of '06-' had a little punch, mostly from Recile on the drums. It's Alright Ma, in yet another 'new' arrangement, was also a stand-out, a pretty intense delivery.

Only a few times did Bob take liberty with the lyrics.

In High Water (for Charley Patton), at the penultimate biographical line, Bob buries, rather than emphasizes, a critical word. What should be his motto: "As great as you are man, you'll never be greater than yourself," which is followed by the derisive reply, "I don't really care," is done with a subtle alteration. In a new singing affectation he's picked up Bob just chokes the "yourself" into an unrecognizable mono-syllabic grunt, coming in hard with the reply. It ain't much, but it's something.

In Tryin' To Get To Heaven he playfully stangles the "Missouri/hurry" rhyme, at most end of lines, into something almost funny. Cuter still was revision in the 'pendulum swinging on chains' verse where instead of "When you think that you lost everything/
You find out you can always lose a little more,"
we get the more hopeful, "I tried to give you everything, everything you're little heart was longing for..."

Finally, Moonlight, which usually is to an uplifting concert experience what an unwanted pregnancy is to an illicit affair, has drastically modified lyrics. Now they might not make it a better song, but they certainly don't make it worse.

Original Verse:
Well, I'm preachin' peace and harmony
The blessings of tranquility
Yet I know when the time is right to strike
I'll take you 'cross the river dear
You've no need to linger here
I know the kinds of things you like

New Verse:
Well, I'm preachin' peace and harmony
The blessings of tranquility
I'm waitin' for that midnight bell to strike
I'll take you 'cross the river dear
You've no need to linger here
You know we think the same, we even dress alike."

And even more dramatic...

Original Verse:
The trailing moss and mystic glow
Purple blossoms soft as snow
My tears keep flowing to the sea
Doctor, lawyer, Indian chief
It takes a thief to catch a thief
For whom does the bell toll for, love? It tolls for you and me

New Verse:
The trailing moss and mystic glow
Purple blossoms soft as snow
Different routes(?) all through the countryside
Around the horn and over the hill
I don't wanna go but go I will
With you onboard I'll gladly take the ride.

We even get a harp break.

Now the best thing about a Dylan show, and it has been the best thing for years now, is touching base with friends old and new. Great to see Federica. Margery and Lori and Paul, the last of a dwindling number of Toronto-based Dylan-friends. Always Michey, even moreso when Rick's in tow. The kids from Windsor, who will be doing this and more when I'm just dust. And a handful of other familiar faces and names that pop up at various places.

Here's the setlist and some mp3's.

Bob Dylan and His Band
Copps Coliseum
Hamilton ON

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

recorded by KreweChief
location Row 2 Center

Disc 1

Track 01 Intro
Track 02 Cat's In The Well
Track 03 It Ain't Me Babe
Track 04 Stuck Inside of Mobile (w/ the Memphis Blues Again)
Track 05 Girl of the North Country
Track 06 High Water (for Charley Patton)
Track 07 Just Like A Woman
Track 08 Rollin' and Tumblin'
Track 09 Tryin' To Get To Heaven
Track 10 Highway 61 Revisited

Disc 02

Track 01 Moonlight
Track 02 It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
Track 03 When The Deal Goes Down
Track 04 Thunder on the Mountain
Track 05 Ain't Talkin'
Track 06 encore/crowd
Track 07 Like A Rolling Stone
Track 08 Band Intro
Track 09 All Along the Watchtower

Complete show in FLAC format

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bob Dylan and His Band
Copps Coliseum Hamilton ON

For the first time since 2000 this will be my lone
Dylan show of the year. It's number 100 and something lifetime, starting from 1975 with the bulk of shows falling into the 'Larry Campbell/Charlie Sexton' years of 2001-2002, and a ton of shows in '03 and '04 before the magic started disappearing in '05. I'd have geared down quicker if Bob wasn't continually enticing us with some "A List" opening bands like the Foo Fighters, The Raconteurs and Elvis Costello.

Bob is nothing, if not a mystery. To the untrained eye it may seem like he's riding the crest of a resurgent late-life creative period; the Theme Time Radio Hour now in it's second year, the Drawn Blank art exhibit and book, his pseudo-biographical series, Chronicles, currently stuck at Vol.1, a #1 record on the charts with Modern Times, the I'm Not There biopic, his own film foray,Masked and Anonymous, Grammy's, in a category almost created for him, Oscars, Polar, Pulitzer, a so-called 'special citation in case you don't get the sense there's a bit of a rush to honour going on here. Add to this what is becoming the perennial nomination for a Nobel prize and you begin to wonder even more. In case that don't come to pass in this lifetime Bob's already sewed up the Spanish Nobel prize.

I hope he never gets on that TV show's gonna ruin the ending for me.

With all this he spends a hundred nights a year on the road with a live show.

You'd think something's got to give, eh?

And it did.

The creative energy that went into these other projects, marvelous as they are, seems to have come from the live show. Somewhere in late '04 Bob began to hear a sound he was comfortable became the current 'cowboy band' that is mercilessly beating Love and Theft and Modern Times to death at a venue near you. It's basically taking 4 songs on the road, changing the lyrics so it seems like 16, and minimizing any musical risks.

Two words: bo - ring.

Bob's hung on to this Modern Times ennui for way to long, even as he threatens a third installment, with Love & Theft being the first, party version, of the same world. I've tried to wade through the muck that is an overbearingly oppressive sense of ... "who gives a shit", to ascertain whether songs like Ain't Talkin' or Nettie Moore are classics. Trouble is I bump into the weak minor songs, Spirit on the Water, Beyond the Horizon or the derivative Rollin' and Tumblin', and can't make it through.

In spite of this there are some who feel he's at the top of his game.

They've obviously not seen all the games.

The past couple years have seen the set list shrink in length and variety. And I'm just talkin' about the choice of songs, not the quality. He's damn near incomprehensible unless you've memorized every lyric. I don't say this as one of the multitudes who pertetually whine about Bob's voice...I loved it all those years they didn't. I'm talking from my own experience. When Modern Times was released I didn't listen to it until I was at a show, hearing the songs for the first time performed live. I could barely make out two consecutive words, never mind a couplet or verse. It was an eye-opener to me because I thought everyone could hear every subtle lyric change. It was like amping Charlie Brown's teacher: "wahh, wahhh, wah, wah-wah-wah, nettie moore."

This is not to say that Bob is mailing it in. On the contrary there is evidence he's working up a sweat every night trying to breathe life into the songs, even as the band is draining the blood out of listless arrangement after listless arrangement.

The beauty about Bob Dylan, least it has been in the past, is that if you don't like what he's doing now, just hang in there, he'll be back with something you like even less in three years. Not only does he have a penchant for peeling off one-more layer of skin every 3-5 years, he has an equal talent at hanging in with each incarnation until there's some type of 'push/shove' moment.

Folk-Bob couldn't just leave, he turned his back. Rock n Roll Bob became the most boorish prima-donna in music before his moto-psycho nitemare period. Don't even get me started on Christian-Bob. So if he's waiting until he gets to the unbearable stage with Civil-War-Bob, then the waitin's over.

As fate would have it there's been a recent shakeup in the show. A few MT songs have been dropped and more than a few classics and rarities have made a reappearance. In the week before this Hamilton show Bob has trimmed the MT back to 2 or 3 songs a show and brought out the likes of Chimes of Freedom, Visions of Johanna, I Believe In You (an homage to the recently deceased Jerry Wexler) and Lenny Bruce. Now while that's basically a return to post-Charlie, pre-cowboy band 2004, it's still a vast improvement in the "what's the chance something halfway exciting will happen tonight" sweepstakes. The odds are now at 23%

On the upside, I have 2nd row seats tonight. While that won't be great for recording it will be the optimum for watching Bob. These days you need to get close to the teacher to get your money's worth.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hank & Lily Do Toronto
Rancho Relaxo 2008-08-15
w/ The Burning Hell
Skirt Chasers

Hank & Lily are taking their third kick at the can tonight (missed the ElMo show on Monday). Heard that Hank will be doing a 'solo' show next Friday at Tranzac Club...for the fans of the man with the can.

The Rancho Relaxo Lounge ain't very big...but it's long. Well, not that long actually, but it's narrow. After you've negotiated the stairway you squeeze past the stage to find your spot at one of many available tables, so it's got that going for it, which is nice.

First set artist, The Skirt Chasers, didn't stretch the bounds of the stage too much with their minimalist 'white stripes' set up. Potsy Webber* on lead guitar and some 5' nothing, 100 and nothing pound dynamo, Hillary, on drums. The little drummer girl really was impressive...and concussive. Highlight of the set was probably meant to be a rather loose "Little Red Riding Hood,." but it was outshone by Hillary's turn at the guitar (minimal skills there) and lead vocals on the wonderfully sapphic, I Get All The Girls. These guys need a little image work (gotta drop the glamour boy exterior, leather armed highschool team jacket look) to find a niche in the indie world, especially if you're peddling white-mans-blues.

(The Potsy tag comes from a friend who was at the show. I was going to go with that Chambers fellow from Central Park but my wife said i'ts not his fault he's pretty and I shouldn't wear my envy on my sleeve. So I deferred.)

For the second set we get a few more players onstage as Peterborough natives, The Burning Hell, load up 8 players, 9 if you count the 8 month old, soon to be born, fetus. This stage is not that big but they manage to find room for the xylophone, keyboard, mandolin, bass, guitar, mini-guitar, drums, accordion, horns and whatever the pregnant chick was playing, perhaps a harpsichord. This band has found the secret to small-club success: if you got 8 members with family and friends, you're gonna sell-out every one of these joints on College St or Queen St West. Not only do they have a decent following, it's an enthusiastic one. Some of them even professed a man-love for the lead singer that definitely went beyond an 'after-goal-ass-pat'.
They play some slow songs, they play some fast songs and they play some smart songs. It's like you stumbled upon a Cajun' family Haliburton. It's exactly this kind of communal artistic community that Manson (Charlie, not Marilyn) was trying to talk Dennis Wilson into creating. But without the psycho-furniture-movin'-movie-star-snuffing-race-war part.

The Burning Hell is an ensemble wrapped around lead singer and (I'd imagine) primary, if not sole, songwriter, composer, Mathias Kom. They've got some great songs, the two Grave Situations are monsters. Two songs I couldn't quite figure out the title of, Unpronounceable Place and Born Prematurely are humourous. They sound at times like a New Orleans jug band but cover Men Without Hats and Phil Collins. Actually, the Phil Collins cover was the first time in decades where I didn't care people were talking up a storm through it.

Much more to this band than could be revealed in a non-headliner spot. I will track them down again. They are all over Southern Ontario, look 'em up.

Hank & Lily are joined by friends and fellow-Hootenanny compatriots, Luther Wright (bass), Jennie Whiteley (b.vox) and the den-mother of Vancouver-based indie music, Carolyn Mark (b. vox). Not like any den mother you've had though, as she shakes and shimmies at a shared mic with the 'girl-next-door' cutie, Jennie.

The ladies start the night by singing the gospel-tinged refrain from Long Black Snake Moan : "God won't like it I know..." 'till Hank is ready to roll and Lily sharpens up the saw for a wah-wah-wonderful version of Don't Be Afraid.

Que Hora?, the Spanish lesson from the new record, North America, is much punchier with the support Lily gets on the squealing refrain. We get more songs from the new record tonight, with the inclusion of Long Black Snake Moan, We Can Build You and the title track. Also included, a personal favourite, Prison Song.

Sprinkled throughout the set, a few familiar tunes, if unknown titles. I'm Starting Up A War is a hit another universe. The show ends on an upbeat note with Someone Out There For You.

'Course it doesn't end too soon as the last train to Kennedy is whistling down the track at 1:51 am. Cece and I beat a quick exit and make all our connections.

MP3 Samples:

The Skirt Chasers

Little Red Riding Hood

I Get All The Girls

The Burning Hell

Pop Goes The World

Grave Situation Part 1

Grave Situation Part 2

In The Air Tonight/I Love the Things That People Make

Hank & Lily

Don't Be Afraid

I'm Starting Up A War

Prison Song

Long Black Snake Moan

Monday, August 11, 2008

Hank & Lily Do Toronto
Sneaky Dee's
w/ Walter Haul

I'm thinking this is not a good idea from the start, as I am anything but a 'night person'.

Hank Pine and Lily Fawn have brought their eclectic-vaudevillian weirdness to Toronto for a two-night stand. A Sunday (11 pm) set at Sneaky Dee's and a Monday (10:30 pm) set at the world-famous El Mocambo. I have scheduled a 6 hour in-house training course for Monday, two on-site demo's for Tuesday and a product-launch at a major financial institution on Wednesday. All those things are scheduled to happen when the sun's up.

We will see how it goes.

Check out my blog report on their 2007 Hootenanny set from Kitchener.

Heading out of the home at 9 pm to start an evening is anathema to me. Even when I was young I was the one leaving the party at midnight as the bulk of the crowd was showing up. I wake up at 6:30 am every day. Even on weekends. But there are advantages on a Sunday traffic and plenty of parking as we pull up to the bar at 9:30 or so. We missed H&L's soundcheck and are treated to 15 minutes of Walter Haul setting their levels...and helping me set mine.

For reasons unknown to me, but probably readily apparent to the youngun's who still have decades of their lives to waste, the show never starts on time. That's likely because we are the only two paying patrons in the joint, everyone else being employees, band members or family of the band. By 10:30 pm a smattering of wandering yuppies and assorted freakaloids make their way into the venue and we get a 30 minute opening set of increasingly interesting jazz-based, ummm, music. Walter Haul consists of; a 'computer tech/saxophonist'; some guy who plays two keys, the same two keys the entire set, on a Casio or Fisher-Price piano; a drummer, bass and funky lead guitar/sound effects guy.

They open with a short Icelandic fertility dance with flutes and follow with what seemed like a 15 minute improvisational piece that got better, right at that tipping point where it might have just got absurd. The groove in this song, which threatened to become annoyingly repetitive found a nice interesting hole to swim in. The guitar work that's almost underneath all the noise makes the cacophony challenging and rewarding to cut through. That piece was Steve Reich's Piano Phase. If this stuff at all interests you please read those links (esp the Piano Phase piece), they are illuminating.

Pleasant surprise #1 comes in the shape of an arrangement of a performance art poem penned by Myra Davies, called No Time. What a great piece. At first brutally simplistic in it's exclamations "I can't talk", "I'm too busy", and "I'm working," it gets more intense musically, tempo and volume building, as the exclamations become more exhuberant. Screams of "where's my briefcase" and "there's not enough time", "i got a lot of important stuff to get done" lead to "that's the problem with time, it's so limited compared to me" and "I'm bigger than time." A descent into madness ends with the simple observation; "I don't have time...for you!" And that's how it ends, not with a bang but a whimper.

4th song in the set is another poem, His Mistress the Witch by Toronto artist Phoebe Tsang. It starts too slow and too low for this bar crowd as the early minutes are drowned out by casual conversation and drink orders. It becomes quite the spectacle as it builds in intensity. The whine of the slide guitar work is enhanced by what seems like a purple vibrator playing the other end of the neck. It's like listening to music under water.

The set closes with a Mad Max-meets-spaghetti-western soundtrack outtake Robot Pony, a great arrangement of a song penned by Laura Barrett. Another highlight.

I'd have bet dollars to donuts I wouldn't have liked this band, not being an aficiondo of jazz or even songs with excessive instrumentation. Somebody would have my money and I'd still be hungry.

Set list and mp3 downloads:

Walter Haul
Sneaky Dee's
Toronto ON

Track 01 Icelandic Pennywhistle
Track 02 Piano Phase (Steve Reich)
Track 03 No Time (Myra Davies)
Track 04 His Mistress the Witch (Phoebe Tsang)
Track 05 Robot Pony (Laura Barrett)

Between the sets Hank and Lily show up and do a meet-and-greet with fans. It's ascertained there definitely IS a show at Rancho Relaxo on the 15th...which means I'll take a pass on the second late-night out in a row at the ElMo tomorrow. The stage has been cleared and after a brief, rambling introduction, the dyanmic duo are onstage.

For a mere $25 I was able to purchase the new CD, North America, which comes with the songbook AND a 60 page graphic novel! I don't pretend to understand everything the kids are into these days and the graphic novel craze is one thing I missed. Oh, we had comic books, but it's a whole artform beyond that now, merging with popular culture through movies, videos and live performance art.

F*ck you, SONYBMG, we don't need no stinkin' record companies. Put the money in the pockets of the artists whenever you can. There are those who would argue digital downloads and easy transfer of music is ruining the industry. Well I say, let it die. Talent will find it's way to the top, maybe faster if we clear the slate of all that crap that is American Idol and whatnot.

Hank introduces Lily... "half-deer, half-girl, all woman" and Lily returns the favour... "the creepy Hank Pine." All in good fun, he is much more eerie than creepy, dressed in leather and metal, which in Toronto where humidity and lightning in the sky are the predominant weather forces this year, might not be such a great choice.

Lily is up front with the saw for the opening number. She starts with a poem as the saw and Hank's swampy-guitar create an aural palette that evokes the trail Little Red Riding Hood may have taken. Deep Dark Woods is a preamble to Don't Be Afraid, a wonderfully spooky tale of things that go bump in the dark. It's become their signature tune but they are brave enough to put it away early and let us concentrate on the new material.

Que Hora is a apocalypse (pay attention fans) in Spanish. The fiery end and a warning to set your affairs in order. In the face of all that horror...the secret to survival...we can only sing.

Song 4 is unknown at this time.

Lily is on the drums, pounding the skins like the pro she is, picking up the tempo for Hank's 'love song', I Need A Lover That Can Take Me Down, a bluesy romp with a touch of The Stones hidden in there somewhere.

Quickly back into the new record with Xanadu, Lily upfront on worried lyrics and Hank in with the bridge, making his case for a secret get-a-way to cure all ills.

Hank's on lead vox with the wonderful I'm Starting Up A War (with the girl next door)(?), and it ain't gonna be fair. Ain't nothing like a love song to put the audience in the mood.

And nothing like a 7 minute excurision into the wasteland of The Junkie Shuffle to break it. Just kidding. Uberfan, Kristy Brown is invited onstage to show us how to do it... "you put your chin to your chest...and you grab your elbow...'cause you got your own beat...and you sway real slow...". Hank has Lily pick up the pace and the song turns into a B-52-like hop. Lily gets the best line: "I got scabs on my feet and I haven't shit in a week." Cautionary tales come in all forms.

And for all those who were paying attention the show ends with the spelling bee; APOC-ALY-PSE. No one in the audience could spell it tonight.

It was a hot night in the little club. Hank and Lily don't get out in Ontario as much as I'd like, so it was worth the strain to see the set.

Set list and mp3's

Hank & Lily
Sneaky Dee's
Toronto ON

Track 01 Deep Dark Woods
Track 02 Don't Be Afraid
Track 03 Que Hora
Track 04 ?
Track 05 ?I Need A Lover That Can Take Me Down
Track 06 Xanadu
Track 07 I'm Starting Up A War (with the girl next door)
Track 08 The Junkie Shuffle