Monday, December 14, 2009

Top 10 Favourite Live Performances of the '00's
Part 1
Toronto Shows

It's been quite the decade of concert going. All lists are arbitrary and subject to change with the passing of time. Tonight I'm digging these moments.

10) Ryan Carey covering The White Stripes Offend in Every Way

This kid is a friend of mine, first met him on my way to seeing Dylan at Newport in 2002. Over the years he's taken an open mic at different get-togethers our travelling troupe have had in Toronto. No list of favourite music should be without an amateur in the mix. Take a few minutes to listen to this rendition. It don't suck.

09) CR Avery Midnight Gold Mining 2009-07-23 The Rivoli Toronto ON

Indy artists deserve a look as well.

08) Finger Eleven Paralyzer/Take Me Out/Trampled Under Foot/Another Brick in the Wall/Paralyzer 2008-03-08 Massey Hall

Big hit with Paralyzer but this version stretches the song as far as it can go.

07) David Byrne Life During Wartime 2008-10-29 Massey Hall

All I could have expected from this show.

06) Robert Gordon Suspicion 2008-01-05 Cadillac Lounge

This guy puts on the 'feel good' show of the year, every year.

5) Nine Inch Nails Only 2008-08-05 Molson Amphitheatre Toronto ON

Trent is the man.

04) Amy Winehouse Back To Black 2007-05-12 Mod Club

Amy, Amy, Amy. Hope you make it back, black or otherwise.

03) White Stripes Hello Operator 2005-09-16 Molson Amphitheatre

Lotta songs to pick from but this one is powerful.

02) Leonard Cohen Hallelujah 2008-06-07 SONY Centre

Get out of the way Jeff Buckley it's time to sing this song like it was meant to be done. The spiritual peak of a very powerful show. A strong song, a strong performance, an enraptured crowd.

01) Waterboys She Tried To Hold Me 2007-11-05 Danforth Music Hall

Went to hear two songs...and now I can't get this show out of my cd player. Both Whole of the Moon and Fisherman's Blues were played this night but The Waterboys were promoting their new record, Book of Lightning. A lot of good songs on that disc; Sustain, It's Gonna Rain, many more, and they were all delivered with gusto.

This song stood out. It's way superior to the recorded version. It builds in intensity, until it's an aural representation of the raging conflict in the song. Though the vocals make this version spectacular the pace of the story, how it's laid out, is a perfect emotional accompaniament, building to a crescendo.

Great rhymes ,well delivered.

You can tell early on on it's going to be a tour de force as Mike Scott carefully injects a raw emotion into each line. His diction achingly perfect as he introduces the cause of the conflagration.

"She said ‘I’m looking for perfection’
as she strode in my direction"

He doesn't waste a syllable in this couplet. 'perfection', 'strode' and 'direction', all have a another line or two of meaning buried in the single word.
She's not settling, perfection is perfectly dropped at the end of the line, the bar is high. Non-negotiable, period.

She's coming to take it, and she's not wavering. 'Strode' almost becomes a hidden 'oooooh', a warning, he should have know at this point.

She's got focus, as 'di-rection' closes the couplet with the same curtness and sense of lock-in purpose as the previous line.

He goes on to quickly lay out her game plan, her enchantment that leads to encampment and drops his objection at the end of the verse...'she tried to hold me'. A seemingly simple enough statement but it tells us what happened, why and how it ends, all in 4 words. All that's left for us is to witness the storm.

Grab some popcorn.

Sit back.

Enjoy the movie-song from hear on in.
This song has it all.
The words, the voice and you can let your eyelids be the screen for a wonderfully visual tale.

It really starts to take off vocally when he spits out the 'unrealistic/ballistic' couplet. 'Unrealistic' is imbued with a sardonic smirk, as he's using his voice to dismiss her opinion. 'Ballistic' explodes as he leaves no doubt this response was unexpected and overdone. And the fight is on.

Great juxtaposition in the next two lines as she delivers her fussilade "in her powder-blue pajamas' and you can see her, stomping her feet as she stalks around the bedroom. Then we're adrift as the explosioin leaves him nothing more than 'flotsam in her drama'.

She tries to inject reason into her outburst but he sees her as no man should ever see his woman; 'inside she was seething/with a cyclone raging under/like she was skin surrounding thunder'.

Wow. Gotta take a breath here.

So he's out, and when he hits the street, in a storm, escaping a storm, his voice wavers on the 'mutters farewell' from the stairwell line. The tone begins to shift as time passes and the singer looks back on the whole story; the start, the middle and the end. We are looking back from 6 years in the future and when he relates his battle to leave it all behind there's no doubt about the hold she had as he tells us 'she lingered like uranium/like a devil in my cranium'. You dont hear the word 'cranium' a lot in rock 'n roll, nor uranium for that matter, and you definitely never hear it like this.

The song is a bitter-sweet symphony. It closes with a recognition that it takes two to tango and more 'patience' for her 'stipulations' may have resulted in a less acrimonious outcome.

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