Friday, June 19, 2009

The Hank and Lily Show

Just missed seeing Hank and Lily when their start time at the Silver Dollar was moved from 8 pm to 10 pm last week. What can I say? It was a week night and I'm getting old. Today, however, I had the good fortune of having a few free hours in the middle of the day when they were playing a free showcase at the NXNE headquarters in the Hyatt Regency.

Cozy little set up, about 30 chairs in front of a small stage. It's crowded as Hank and Lily have a big band today with an added bass player and three wigged (and wigged out) backup singers. Add a couple clowns and a dancing girl...well, it's easy to see the circus is in town.

Short set, under 40 minutes. Most tracks come from their North America project. Always great to see Lily with the saw, the show opens with the wonderfully spooky, Don't Be Afraid. We get the twins, We Can Take You Apart and the ode to Toronto, We Can Build You. Long Black Snake Moan is a muddy trip into voodoo territory. The show closes with a nicely rounded out, courtesy of the back up singers, Someone Out There For You.

Here's the full set list and some mp3 samples.

Track 01 Intro
Track 02 Don't Be Afraid
Track 03 We Can Take You Apart
Track 04 We Can Build You
Track 05 North America
Track 06 Xanadu
Track 07 Long Black Snake Moan
Track 08 A-P-O-C-A-L-Y-P-S-E
Track 09 Someone Out There For You

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Dead Weather
The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern

Having already booked 3 Dead Weather shows for July I was happy to receive an email from silverjetz notifying me there was a surprise show at the 'Shoe. And it fell on a night off.

'Course they're not making it easy on us. I'm in line outside the Horseshoe at 8:00 am. Except for the guy sleeping on the bench, and I think he's not here for the show, I'm alone. Hard to gauge the hype around this band. These small-venue warmup shows are being announced a day in advance, but they are no great secret if you turn on an electric appliance with a receiver or log onto the web. Driving into downtown Toronto, along Richmond St, I'm horrified to see thousands of kids in queue along the curbs. Good news is they are there for the Much Music Video Awards and the Jonas Brothers. A couple blocks away there is no one waiting on Jack White.

Proof, if you needed it, that this world is fucked up beyond comprehension.

The line starts to fill in but by 1 pm, when the wristbands are handed out, it still looks like everyone who showed up is going to get in. The excruciating part in lining up with those wristbands, waiting for the lottery that determines who gets in first, and hoping the confusion that ensues doesn't affect you're getting in. I've got wristband #1. The only thing that guarantees is I'm unlikely to be first in. The random lottery started at #230 up to the capacity of 460. Ironically, though these people got to pay ahead of us the venue was not open, only the bar. Many had to back out of the club and wait for actual doors...thereby rejoining the line up outside. When our number was called we waltzed in at the exact moment they opened access to the venue and I found myself where I'd hoped to end up...20 feet from the right stacks.

Just prior to joining that line I was out back watching the tour buses with a handful of fans. Didn't seem like nothing was happening so I made my way through the alley towards the front when I was cut-off by a white panel van. Out piles Allison, followed by Little Jack and then the frizzy-headed Jack White stumbles out. He makes a slight detour to shake hands, chat inanities and take a picture with a cutie who'd been waiting about. It took 20 seconds but he was smiling and friendly.
LittleWhiteGhost from the fansite "The Little Room" got a good 15 seconds of that sunshine.

Opener tonight is Hollorado, hand-picked from myspace auditions by Jack his'elf. They did well. High energy. A few of the songs were very promising.

Back behind the drums, for the first time since his stint in Goober and the Peas, is Jack White. Weird don't begin to describe that. He's brought along a couple friends from his Raconteur days; Jack Lawrence on bass and Dean Fertita, tour keyboardist, is taking the lead guitar role. Manning the mic, she-devil from The Kills, the sultry and slightly bitchy, Alison Mosshart.

I haven't listened to a single tune, figuring I'd get a handful of opportunities to check out Jack's new project live. They are not nearly as instantly accessible as The Raconteurs. The whole sonic feel is one of a muddy-slightly-distorted booze joint on the banks of the lower Mississippi. It's not an accident. The mics and pickups are set to reverb. The volume is set to 11. It made for a dicey night inside the 'Shoe as we were blasted with feedback about 4 times through the evening. Three times I'm sure it wasn't planned. Not so sure about what Dean was doing with the keyboard at one point.

It'll take a while to find the comfort zone with this band. Perhaps after I've had time to digest the record. Some members of tonights audience didn't seem to want to wait that long as there was a steady stream of couples leaving the pit at about the half-hour mark muttering; "I liked the old Jack better." I figure if somebody doesn't walk out of your show you aren't challenging the audience enough.

On first look it appears Jack is the star.

Little Jack, that is.

He's relentless as the rain, playing the bass like it was a lead instrument.

The OTHER Jack's drumming is concussive and less than intricate though by shows end he was playing some mighty fine runs.

Dean's guitar work was excellent but the keyboard seemed like an annoyance most times he went to it.

As for Alison, well, she's got something going on. At times it's hypnotic and totally in synch with the show. At other times it seems like petulant posing. While her attempted sexual liason with the mic stand on the opening number was tantalizing in a 'suicide girls' kinda way, her chain-smoking blues persona seemed less a sign of independence from the cultural norms and more a case of self-centered entitlement.

Here's the set list and some mp3 samples.

Dead Weather
The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern
Toronto ON

Track 01 60 ft Tall
Track 02 Treat Me Like Your Mother
Track03 Bone House
Track04 You Just Can't Win (Van Morrison cover)
Track 05 So Far From Your Weapon
Track 06 Child of a Few Hours
Track 07 Rocking Horse
Track 08 I Cut Like A Buffalo
Track 09 No Hassle Night
Track 10 Will There Be Enough Water?

Track 11 encore--audience

Track 12 Forever My Queen (The Pentagram cover)
Track 13 Hang You From The Heavens
Track 14 New Pony

Here's a link to another blog with a review of Horehound.
Horehound Review from The Forty-Nine Percenter

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Nine Inch Nails & Jane's Addiction
Molson Amphitheatre
Toronto ON

I wasn't going to see NIN in 2009, having caught them 4 or 5 times over the past few years. Then Trent starts thinking outside the box and books Jane's Addiction to headline his show as he prepares for a hiatus. Toss in Tommy Morello's new project, Street Sweeper Social Club, and that makes the NINJA Tour all the rage.

The Amphitheatre is a struggle even when the weather's warm. Exposed to the wind that whips in off the lake it's often colder than you'd like. Nestled inside Ontario Place there's nowhere to go and limited locales for pre-show meets. Parking's exhorbitant and traffic's a bitch. Seats wide in the bowl have terrible sight/sound lines. Security at the doors is as stringent as any venue in the's a close personal check you go through. If the sun is out it sets in your eyes and guarantees you'll have a sunburn on the left side of your face, neck and arms. Other than that, it's a joy.

SSSC takes no prisoners during it's energetic 30 minute warm up set. Tommy Morello was the best guitar player onstage tonight and this new incarnation is much more palatable than Rage...who are a little intense for my tastes. MIA's Paper Planes gets a runthrough.

What can you say about Trent? He deserves a rest...hopefully not another 5 years though. This show is not as complex as the 'light' show he toured last year (shame we're not getting a DVD of that tour) and there's no new record so there's some opportunity to mix up the songs a little, and that's what we get. "New" songs in the rotation are Heresy, Metal, I'm Afraid of Americans, The Becoming, I Do Not Want This, The Way Out Is Through and Mr Self Destruct. Not one to miss a trick Trent has trotted out his Lolla '91 intro to start the set.

Perry Farrel's place in the rock pantheon is secure...if difficult to define. Gotta love his attitude. He was through town with Satellite Party last year and treated us to a couple of Porno's tunes. This go round it's all nostalgia, all Jane's all the time.

Street Sweeper Social Club

01 Intro
02 Fight! Smash! Win!
03 Somewhere In The World It's Midnight
04 Paper Planes#
05 The Oath
06 100 Little Curses
07 Promenade
08 Tom Morello talks
09 Nobody Moves (Til We Say Go)


Disc 1

01 Now I'm Nothing (Lollapalooza '91 Intro)
02 Terrible Lie (Pretty Hate Machine)
03 1,000,000 (The Slip)
04 Heresy (The Downward Spiral)
05 March of the Pigs (The Downward Spiral)
06 Metal (Gary Numan cover)
07 The Becoming (The Downward Spiral)
08 I'm Afraid Of Americans (David Bowie cover)
09 Burn (Natural Born Killers Soundtrack)
10 Gave Up (Broken)
11 I Do Not Want This (The Downward Spiral)

Disc 2

01 The Fragile (The Fragile)
02 The Way Out Is Through (The Fragile)
03 Wish (Broken)
04 Survivalism (Year Zero)
05 Mr. Self Destruct (The Downward Spiral)
06 The Hand That Feeds (With Teeth)
07 Head Like A Hole (Pretty Hate Machine)
08 Hurt

Jane's Addiction

Disc 1

01 Intro
02 Three Days (Ritual De Lo Habitual)
03 Whores (Jane's Addiction)
04 Ain't No Right (Ritual De Lo Habitual)
05 Pigs in Zen (Jane's Addiction)
06 Then She Did (Ritual De Lo Habitual)
07 Up the Beach (Nothing's Shocking)
08 Mountain Song (Nothing's Shocking)
Disc 2

01 Been Caught Stealing (Ritual De Lo Habitual)
02 Had a Dad (Nothing's Shocking)
03 Ted, Just Admit It (Nothing's Shocking)
04 Ocean Size (Nothing's Shocking)
05 Summertime Rolls (Nothing's Shocking)
06 Stop! (Ritual De Lo Habitual)
07 Jane Says (Jane's Addiction)