Sunday, June 26, 2011

Elvis Costello and the Imposters
SONY Centre

Back in the mid-70's who would have though that Declan Patrick (Aloysius) MacManus would become a cultural icon?

We were fortunate in Toronto to see him often in his early years. He played this building in 1978 when it was called the O'Keefe Centre. I remember that show distinctly...mostly for the commotion out front as the opening band, Toronto punk-indie phenoms, The Battered Wives, were opening and being picketed everywhere they went. (Toby Swan was a member of this band and had a single hit with a cover of Somewhere Over the Rainbow...a song that makes an appearance tonight.)

In the summer of 1980 Elvis was co-headliner at the Heatwave Festival just outside Toronto. This is the show that made The Talking Heads an ensemble. They were paid $200,000 for their set and went from a minimalist new wave quartet to the mega-band they became. I was the first person to buy tickets for that show, standing outside the Danforth Music Hall. Right out of the promoters trunk as the venue was slow to open. Didn't make it to the show because a ball hockey tournament in Montreal took precedence. Fuck I was stupid(er) when I was young.

Caught him next when he brought Squeeze over the ocean in the spring of 1981. Those were some great years for rock n roll but in the mid-80's music started to suck horribly, I had 2 kids and a mortgage and it would be a long time before I saw him again when he opened for Dylan in 2007. I kept buying the records though.

Elvis has resurrected the Spinning Songbook which he first rolled out in 1986. A carny wheel with hits, rarities, covers and a couple wildcards tabs. Throughout the evening, in the persona of MC Napoleon Dynamite, he invites audience members up to give the big wheel a spin. Most are inticed to spend some time in the go-go dancer cage beside the onstage lounge, where they are treated to a cocktail.

It was an exhaustive career retrospective, the show ran 2 hours 39 minutes and 30 seconds long and spanned his entire catalogue. There was something for everyone; the terrific early power pop songs, the ballads, a rarity in Earthbound, a few covers and some wonderful mash-ups, most notably the Alison medley and Pump It Up.

Disc 1
t01 I Hope You’re Happy Now (Blood & Chocolate, 1986)
t02 Heart of The City (Rockpile cover)
t03 Mystery Dance (My Aim Is True, 1977)
t04 Uncomplicated (Blood & Chocolate, 1986)
t05 Radio Radio (single, 1978)

t06 Spinning Songbook #1; w/ MC Napoleon Dynamite and guest Simoni
t07 Everyday I Write The Book (Punch the Clock, 1983)

t08 Spinning Songbook #2; Mary
t09 Joanna (Scott Walker cover, sorta)

t10 Spinning Songbook #3&4; Alison and Gord (double spin)
t11 Turpentine (Momofuku, 2008)
t12 Long Honeymoon (Imperial Bedroom, 1982)

t13 Spinning Songbook #5; Kaylee
t14 I Want You (Blood & Chocolate, 1986)

t15 Beyond Belief (Imperial Bedroom, 1982)
t16 Big Tears (This Years Model, 1978)
t17 Shabby Doll (Imperial Bedroom, 1982)

Disc 2
t01 Spinning Songbook #6; Kimberley
t02 Accidents Will Happen (Armed Forces, 1979)

t03 Leave My Kitten Alone (Kojak Variety, 1995)

t04 Spinning Songbook #7&8; Norma and Nikki (double spin)
t05 Living In Paradise (This Years Model, 1978)
GIRLS Jackpot
t06 Spooky Girlfriend (When I Was Cruel, 2002)
t07 Party Girl (Armed Forces, 1979)
t08 Girls Talk (Dave Edmunds cover, sorta)
t09 Girl (Beatles cover)

t10 Alison/Tracks Of My Tears/Tears of A Clown/No More Tear Stained Makeup/Wind Cries Mary/Somewhere Over the Rainbow (My Aim Is True, 1977)
t11 Commercial Break - Sting Ray
t12 Stations of the Cross (National Ransom, 2010)
t13 Shipbuilding (Punch the Clock, 1983)

Disc 3
d3t01 A Slow Drag With Josephine (National Ransom, 2010)
d3t02 For More Tears (got no idea?)
d3t03 2nd encore break

d3t04 Spinning Songbook #9&10; Betty (double spin)
d3t05 Earthbound (unreleased demo, 1992)
d3t06 (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding (Brinsley Schwarz cover)

d3t07 I Don’t Want To Go To Chelsea (This Years Model, 1978)
d3t08 Waiting For The End of The World (My Aim Is True, 1977)
d3t09 I Can Only Give You Everything (Van Morrison cover)
d3t10 Pump It Up/Subterranean Homesick Blues/Purple Rain (This Years Model, 1978)
d3t11 Man Out Of Time (Imperial Bedroom, 1982)
d3t12 I Hope (National Ransom, 2010)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin
Massey Hall
Toronto ON

A strange coincidence tonight as Al Jardine is playing just down the highway.

But this is the real deal. THE Beach Man. (I don't want to get Mike Love on my back until they finally resolve who owns The Beach Boys© )

Iconic rock mystery man, Brian Wilson, out of bed, well under 300 pounds, survives and thrives today, bringing the song stylings of George Gershwin to a music hall near you.

And a sloop-load of surfin' songs.

The band and orchestra are terrific. The arrangements superb. The harmonies heavenly. And take a look at the generous setlist below.

Brian Wilson sits behind his keyboard (for all but Surfin' USA where he picks up the bass)holding court over an impressive career retrospective. I've seen my share of classic artists over the past few years. I'd say only Leonard Cohen has sustained a peak performance level. John Fogerty is a close second. Some have been ravaged by time (Dylan), others by illness (Levon Helm). Brian's had to deal with a heaping helping of both and I'd say his current skills fall in the comfortable middle; not soaring but a joy to watch. What he hasn't lost is a love and enthusiasm for the songs and the arrangements as he periodically breaks out of his stoic demeanour to flash a smile and punch the air emphatically in time to the music changes.

Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin
Massey Hall, Toronto ON

Set 1

01 Do It Again (cut at beginning,incomplete)
02 Catch A Wave
03 Row Row Row Your Boat
04 Dance, Dance, Dance
05 Girl Don't Tell Me
06 Salt Lake City
07 Little Surfer Girl
08 Then I Kissed Her(Jeffrey on vox and Brian)
09 Please Let Me Wonder
10 Don't Worry Baby
11 I Get Around
12 Add Some Music to Your Day
13 Do You Wanna Dance?
14 The Little Girl I Once Knew
15 Darlin' (Darian on vox)
16 Sail On Sailor
17 California Girls
18 Pet Sounds (Run James Run)
19 Wouldn't It Be Nice
20 Sloop John B
21 God Only Knows
22 Heros and Villians
23 Good Vibrations

Set 2

01 Gershwin intro
02 Rhapsody in Blue (Intro)
03 The Like In I Love You (Gershwin/Wilson/Bennett)
04 Summertime
05 I Loves You, Porgy
06 I Got Plenty O Nutin'
07 It Ain't Necessarily So
08 'S Wonderful
09 They Can't Take That Away From Me
10 Our Love Is Here To Stay
11 I Got A Crush On You
12 I Got Rhythm
13 Someone to Watch Over Me
14 Nothing But Love (Gershwin/Wilson/Bennett)
15 Rhapsody in Blue (Outro)
16 encore break/Band Intro
17 Johnny B Goode
18 Help Me Rhonda
19 Barbara Ann
20 Surfin' USA
21 Fun Fun Fun
22 2nd encore break
23 All Summer Long

Saturday, June 04, 2011

CR Avery and the Special Interest Group
The Dakota Tavern
Little Bean

"there's a black cat lying in the shadow of a gate post..."

And a belated happy Friday the 13th to you. Nothing but good luck on the horizon.

CR and his band are raising a little baguette money before they hop the ocean for a series of dates in France. It looks like the Special Interest Group may be with us for awhile as CR is developing a more accessible set fronted by a 'rock band', instead of some guy with a harp and keytar onstage. Not that he lets the audience off without the requisite challenge to their auditory senses.

We get a short set from the headliners tonight but were treated to 3 wonderfully interesting opening acts. Treasa Levasseur, accompanied by Brian Kobayakawa, showcased her new vinyl 45 single, Shine Your Light. The 'female CR Avery', ???? blew us away with her spoken word and a couple other people came on and played some songs.

Keyboardist Adam Farnsworth is featured more often this year. On his first stint with the band he provided the vocals on the chorus of the new song, Dungeon of Love (curretnly riding the chartres in France). Tonight he adds his unique vocal stylings to a reworked Motel: 50 Miles Out of Town and this years single, Flee By Night.

Evan Bates and Noah Walker, long-time East Van collaborators, hold the bass line and rock the chords with support from drummer, Kevin Romaine The magic, well, that's CR's job.

We've seen CR in many guises; as a solo artist, a one man band, fronting a Gospel Trio, backed by a string quartet and with this configuration, a traditional rock band. He's searching for a gem and with a little polish, he may have found it in the Special Interest Group.

You and Me Against the World (Hells Fireworks)
Flee By Night
German Computer
57 Channels and Nothing ON
Motel 50 Miles Out Of Town
Living Reckless
Promiscuous Women

Dungeon of Love

Check out the wonderful video for Dungeon of Love at youtube.

"and the black cat tells me, love is on it's way"