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)