At this point of his development CR is unconscious. I'm sure he carefully constructs his tunes, works out the best delivery in rehearsal and lays down the album tracks as he hears them in his head but it's when he's onstage that you get the best of him.
I'm not so convinced he has a plan when he's behind the mic and that makes every outing special. The subtle changes each night as he gauges his audiences' response or responds to the audiences' gaze. He's nimble with his tongue and quick with his mind. A song can change because of what he caught out of his peripheral vision or because he witnessed something on the street that afternoon that stuck with him and found a way into his rap.
I'm hoping to catch a few shows this week.
Night 1 -
Pearl Company Gallery and Theater, Hamilton ON, Saturday April 20th.
What a terrific non-descript oasis of culture hidden 6 blocks away from the city centre along a narrow dimly lit alley posing as a street. The Hammer stands in the shadow of big, bad TO, but it's got a rock-n-roll heart and a bit of the beat-spirit hidden under that Steeltown skin.
The organizers at The Pearl weren't quite sure what they were in for when they booked CR and The Undesirables. They were excited, but not sure. The hall is filled with lots of people who seem to be patrons of the venue as opposed to hard-core followers. Venue personnel are the nicest and most gracious hosts you could hope to have. Everyone from the sound man, the door, the coffee-bar and the Manager went out of their way to engage the bands and their fans. They are rightfully proud of their impressive little venue.
The Undesirables open the evening. Corin Raymond fronts this duet, his voice his instrument. On guitar, backing vocals, and I surmise, long-time sidekick, Sean Cotton. Corin's one of the hardest working troubadours in these parts. When he's not teamed up with Sean you can find him doing solo Thursday night sets on a semi-regular basis at The Cameron Room. If you don't see him there, check between bus stops.
CR brought a different flavour this time around. Without Noah Walker on screaming lead guitar the outfit is a little more sedate, a touch jazzier, leaning heavily on spoken-word pieces and a moody ambiance. Suits the crowd, a bit laid back but very appreciative, attentive and responsive, all things you gotta like in an audience.
A few new songs right at the front and the night was suprisingly light on material from The Great Canadian Novel. Qu'elle surprise, indeed. Or maybe CR would say, "My Bad." Except, not bad. CR had 'em leaning forward for punchlines in The Cat and the aforementioned My Bad. Silence was all around as he weaved the Lament of the New Marine (or Three Months in Hell, I really don't know what most of these are actually named).
Pot shots at the Prime Minister at The Pearl were well received. First sing-a-long of the night as CR decides the audience should work a bit for their meal.
The music we get tonight, when it's not orchestral, is like Industrial Harp Music. CR challenges you on lots of levels, not the least being these intermittent sonic attacks.
Great encore tonight including two covers by the Williams Twins, Hank and Lucinda.
Song of the night...gotta be that pussy eating tune. I think CR had the idea for this one in his mind this summer when he was introducing Lemon Mereigne Pie as "Eating Pussy on a Hot August Night". Well, it seems he got past the title part this fall.
The Pearl Company Theater
Track 01 ?I'm Petrified
Track 02 German Computer
Track 03 ?The Marine
Track 04 My Bad
Track 05 The Cat
Track 06 The Prime Ministers Chair
Track 07 ?Comes back Worse
Track 08 Band Intro
Track 09 I'm Gonna Eat You Out
Track 10 Piano Lessons
Track 11 ?Long Dark Night
Track 12 Bus to Baton Rouge (L Williams)
Track 13 talk- Neil Young's Piano Tuner
Track 14 Lost Highway (H Williams, no relation)
Track 15 Hymns from the Underground
Bus Stop Walk
Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay
CR Avery and the Legal Tender String Quartet
I'm Gonna Eat You Out