Home again, and I wasted no time getting back at it. Back in the saddle. On the horse. The concert horse. My flight got in around 4:00 on Saturday afternoon and by 8:00, I was sitting in the Artesian awaiting Sarah Slean. I had my concert ticket before I booked the trip, so I scheduled my return flight accordingly and everything – somewhat surprisingly – worked out. Even if my seatmate did steal my aisle seat, leaving me squooshed up against the window.
By comparison, I had no seatmate at this show, which is always better than cuddling with strangers. The place wasn’t quite sold out, and though I arrived too late to get a seat in the… well, I guess they’re like a combination of bleachers and pews – anyway, they were full, but I got a seat at the back of the floor. The venue is small enough that there aren’t really any bad seats there.
Sarah and her band (guitar, bass, drums) started right at 8:00 with no opener. They played two sets that were about 45 minutes each, plus the requisite encore. A lot of the songs came from Slean’s new album, Metaphysics; it looks like she played most of the record. There were also some older songs like Pilgrim and California that (of course) got the best reactions. I did like all the new tunes, though. Slean was on the piano (or the piano-sounding keyboard if you’re a stickler for details) for every song except one – her version of Wayfaring Stranger that opened the second set.
For the encore, Slean first returned by herself and asked for requests. This turned into a remarkably well-organized three-way shouting match between the guy ahead of me who yelled for Book Smart, Street Stupid, someone behind me yelling for Willow, and someone up at the front yelling for Sweet Ones. I knew we weren’t getting Sweet Ones unless the band came back out, so it came down to two. “Book Smart, that’s interesting,” said Slean. “Yes,” said the guy, very emphatically. Not like he was excited that she might play it; he was just strongly in agreement. She opted to play it and hoped she wouldn’t forget the words. She only got lost once and the guy helped her out. Then the band came back out and they played Sweet Ones to close the show. That was the big crowd pleaser and I guess it’s her biggest song? I dunno, it’s real good, but I like Lucky Me more and she didn’t play that one. Shoulda yelled.
This was all delightful. For a while now, Slean has been someone that I seem to see every time she’s in town, and then I never listen to her music until the next time I go see her. This was a pleasant reminder that she has some good songs and I should spend more time listening to them. Her band was really good too. And the set lengths were just right for me; I got enough to make it worth the money and it never dragged, plus I wasn’t in the mood to stay out forever.
I will say that I know some people who really dislike Slean and this show wouldn’t have changed their minds. She has some affectations when she talks and sings and that’s part of what puts them off. Last time I saw her, I was sitting near two groups of people; one praised her for being “emotive” and the other derided her as “a ham” and though I told that story last time, I can think of no better way to sum up the issue. I can’t say it bugs me, though I see what they’re getting at and it did make me wonder how much of it is a persona and how much is just her.
The venue really upped my enjoyment of the evening. I believe the polite term for “this place is tiny” is “an intimate setting.” I might just call it cozy. It’s a nice looking space where you’re never too far from the stage or overrun by idiots. And the sound was fantastic, with the clearest vocals I’ve heard at a show in a long time. The instruments all sounded great too. My next two concerts are also at the Artesian and this pleases me.
While this all was going on, elsewhere in Regina, friends of mine were at the Brandt Centre watching wrestling. I skipped out to watch a tiny lady play piano. I’m not sure this is something that 16-year-old me would be able to fathom. But whatever; they had fun and I had fun.
- Martha Wainwright w/Mappe Of (October 22)
- David Myles w/Port Cities (October 24)
- Headstones w/SNAKEandtheCHAIN (November 17)
- Andy Shauf (November 18)
- Corb Lund (November 23)
- Cold Specks w/LA timpa (November 24)
- Tanya Tagaq & the Regina Symphony Orchestra (November 25)
- Hawksley Workman (December 9)
- “Weird Al” Yankovic w/Emo Philips (June 1)
You may recall that I set myself a goal of seeing 40 concerts in the year that I turned 40 (last year). You may also recall that near the end of the year, I got concerted out and didn’t quite make it.
I feel like I’m getting to that point again. Or maybe that’s not quite right. I’ve seen a ton of great stuff lately by artists I know well and really enjoy, but looking at my upcoming shows, there’s an awful lot of “I’ve heard of this person and this is a thing to do that I’m sure will be pleasant but I don’t really know much about them” coming up. Which is fine, but I may have scheduled in a bit too much of a good thing for myself.
Like these here Japandroids. I’d heard one song – The House that Heaven Built. It’s super great. I’d meant to listen to more of their stuff since I really dig that one song. Never really got around to it. Got a ticket anyway since it was really convenient of them to play the night after Arcade Fire so I could cram a bunch of music into my earholes in one Calgary trip.
But then the day came, and I’ve been walking a ton all week and my feet are now in a state of full rebellion (I complained about my plantar fasciitis last time and I might just keep doing it because it seems like a super interesting topic for everyone) and I knew I’d be walking to and from the train and I’d be standing all night at the show, and, again, I only knew that one song. Point being, this seemed like a much better idea several weeks ago when I got the ticket.
But I persevered. For you. And because I already paid for the ticket. And because Japandroids seem like a band I could really dig if I gave them half a shot. But mostly because I’d already paid.
I am now an old pro at the C-Train and have nothing to say about the trip there, except I juuuuuust missed the train on the way there and had to wait six whole minutes for another one. And also a train ride is an easy way to refill your Pokémon GO items.
The show was at the university in the MacEwan Ballroom, the smaller of the two venues there. It wasn’t sold out but was pretty close, I’m guessing. Tons of people there. And every other person had bought Japandroids vinyl from the looks of it.
Because I’d been less than motivated to get to the show, I dawdled and eventually missed the start of the opener, Cloud Nothings. They were way louder than I was expecting – which is dumb, because why would I expect anything, I knew nothing about them. Four guys playing straightforward, high-energy rock. I thought all of the songs sounded a bit alike, but I liked them all, so no complaints. If you like Japandroids, you’d like these guys, and vice versa. And for at least the next while, if you see one, you’ll likely see both, since it sounded like this was the first show of a seven-week tour they’d be doing together.
“I thought all of the songs sounded a bit alike, but I liked them all, so no complaints” could also be my Japandroids review. I’ll add in I liked them well enough that I still want to spend some time with their music and get to know it a bit better. Maybe go for coffee with it, and a walk by the lake. Something casual. I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about anymore.
I didn’t recognize any songs apart from The House that Heaven Built, though they mentioned that one song was called No Known Drink or Drug, which I’d at least heard of. It was good. Someone held up a sign asking for a song of their first album. I don’t know what it was called but I liked it a bunch and the crowd seemed real into it. They closed with the song I knew. It was real good. There was no encore, which seemed to disappoint people, especially those chanting “one more song,” but I was okay with it.
Does this mean I get to go to bed?
NO. I must pad this out at least a bit. Uhh… shit. Okay. Well. I walked into the hall partway through Cloud Nothings’ set and stood at the back of the crowd. Within seconds of showing up, some girl walked out of the crowd and tore her shirt off right in front of me as she went past. I’d like to say I have that effect on women all the time but the “what the heck is happening here?” expression that was surely on my face might lead one to believe otherwise.
(I think she was just overheated. I was too, but didn’t feel that following suit would have been the best course of action for anyone. When in Rome, I’m most likely keeping my toga on.)
We knew it was coming. In a way, the nation has been bracing itself and mourning him since his glioblastoma diagnosis announcement, in 2016. I was just arriving at work this morning when my lovely wife texted me the news. I sat a moment in the car and just quietly offered my thanks and a heartfelt goodbye.
We all have Gord stories, and Hip stories, and all of them we hold dear. We were there. We know all the words, every note. We revelled in each new story and instant-classic line in every song. Gord has been so much a part of our fabric for so long that when the Hip ended that farewell tour it still didn’t even seem real.
Today’s news also seems unreal, though we know the truth. Gord was a gentleman, a true poet, a man pushing towards the edges to see what was there while showing us our own nation and history. Endearingly for us all, he was also one of us.
Thank you, Gord. For everything.
I had a number of shows to attend during this Calgary trip, but this was the anchor, the one that made me book the trip when I did.
I’d never seen Arcade Fire before. I only ever had one chance – they played the Odeon in Saskatoon back in… 2005, I think. Give or take a year. I didn’t pick up tickets immediately because I was supposed to spend the weekend in Canmore with family and I wasn’t sure I’d be back in time. I got back to Saskatoon from my trip around suppertime on the day of the concert, so we could have gone, but it didn’t matter; tickets had sold out pretty much instantly. The next day, I went to a record store and chatted with the owner, who said “I hate to tell you this, but they released last-minute tickets and they were available at the door.” So it goes.
I could also take this time to complain that on that tour, they intentionally left a day between Saskatoon and Winnipeg to do a show in Regina, and nobody would book them. Which neatly sums up one of my prime complaints about Regina and why I time these trips to coincide with concerts.
Delightfully, Colin was game to take in this concert with me. Less delightfully, because this trip got scheduled so late, there weren’t a ton of great seats left. I got us a pair of the cheapest seats in the building, which I believe were still more expensive than the Odeon tickets from a decade ago. At least we were in the doors.
I made plans to meet Colin at 5:30 at Wurst, the German restaurant across the street from my grandma’s place. At 5:32, I was walking there when I saw Colin wave at me from his car, where he was stuck in traffic. I offered to race him there. I mention this because I won.
I hadn’t had German food in decades. The restaurant has been there for years and I’d never been, because eating outside the home would offend my grandma to no end. She’ll tolerate it if I’m meeting someone, but only barely. I still haven’t gone to the Indian restaurant next door and it’s been there for as long as my grandma’s lived here. Anyway, I got a schnitzel BLT (which is a normal BLT with a schnitzel also on it and you probably guessed that but did you know it was on grilled sourdough, smart guy?) and a side Caesar salad. Very tasty. Colin had a brat on a bun with soup and he said it was good, so thumbs up all around.
I’d assumed we’d walk to the Saddledome, but Colin wanted to try driving since he’d heard about a free parking trick. I was fine with this since I’ve done a ton of walking this week and my plantar fasciitis is making itself quite known. I won’t spill the beans about Colin’s plan, but I will confirm that it not only worked, but we got out of there afterwards with minimal hassle.
We showed up just as the openers, Phantogram, were starting. We got to our seats (past many signs warning us of strobe lights and “theatrical smoke effects”) and really, they weren’t that bad. Meaning our seats. And also Phantogram, I suppose. We weren’t very close, but we could see the stage and hear everything well enough. The band was playing in the round, so we were even closer than I was expecting. There were also big screens, but they didn’t help because the band was basically exactly the same size on stage as they were on the screens, plus the screens had video effects on them so they were actually worse than just watching the stage. Whatever – I thought this was more funny than anything.
I told Mika that I didn’t think I knew any Phantogram songs, and she said “yes you do, idiot.” Possibly not in those exact words. Okay, I thought I knew one song – You Don’t Get Me High Anymore. Listening to them in concert, I’m still pretty sure I only knew the one. I mean, there were a number of songs that sounded kinda familiar, where I was waiting for a recognizable chorus that never came. Maybe I’ve just heard enough Garbage and Evanescence and other electronic-influenced rock bands with female vocalists that I hear similarities where none exist? Colin actually knew a few of their songs and so he was basically a superfan by comparison.
My general take on Phantogram was that they were pretty good in a way where I know I’m not likely to ever go out of my way to seek more out. I mean, I enjoyed them, but I know me. I don’t make enough time for everything that I really enjoy as it is. But like I said, this was good, the sound was decent, they played the song I knew, their light show was impressive. No complaints.
As soon as they were done, a cowboy with a galaxy for a face appeared on the big screen and asked us for another round of applause for Phantogram. This completely baffled me. The cowboy would return several times throughout the break to shill t-shirts and spout bizarre non-sequiturs (“Let’s hear it for junior hockey!” or my favourite, “I can’t legally ask if you’re ready to rumble, but I hope YOU AAAAAAAAAAAAAAARE!”). I think the cowboy may have been Colin’s favourite part of the evening. There were also weird symbols on the screens around the arena, and the screen would show ads for shirts at 100% off with an infinite time warranty – all part of the experience of this, the Infinite Content Tour.
Because the band was in the round, they had to enter down a long aisle like at a wrestling or MMA show. And in fact, they mocked up the stage to look like a boxing ring and came in to a boxing-style introduction. Apparently, Arcade Fire weighs, collectively, 2,100 pounds. If Dave ever reads this, he’ll call bullshit because how can they only weigh 2,100 pounds when they have 62 band members?
I counted 9, for the record. No sign of Karnov.
I have a weird relationship with Arcade Fire; namely, I think they’re all very talented and I love their songs, but they can also come across as artsy and pretentious and if someone punched them, I’d understand. I don’t condone it nor do I want to do it myself, but I’d understand.
All of this went out the window before the first song was done. I mean, I’m not surprised that these guys were really good, but… these guys were really good. Super talented, very versatile musicians who played (and traded) a wide range of instruments all through the night.
The band has a great stage presence too. This was a spectacle; from a visual standpoint alone, it was never not entertaining. Just to keep things interesting, they also have possibly the best big rock light show I’ve ever seen, along with a constant stream of new and creative video effects on the big screen (while still devoting lots of time to letting you actually see the musicians).
They did take the boxing ring staging down after a few songs, which was a relief, since one of the band kept bouncing off the ropes like in wrestling but those ropes were way too loose to do that safely. Dude’s gonna fall one of these days.
As for the songs, there was a big focus on their new record, of course, but there was a nice selection from all their albums. Tons of hits, but lots of variety in general. The fourth song was Here Comes the Night Time and it is not what comes to mind if you’re thinking of a song that would blow the roof off a place, but they did it. Keep the Car Running might be my favourite Arcade Fire song, which I only realized when I saw how delighted I was when they started playing it. There was a killer version of Reflektor, they closed the main set with Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out) and the encore with Wake Up… much like I felt after the New Pornographers concert, this show really hammered home to me just how much great music these guys have put out. And some really anthemic songs, which I’m totally a sucker for.
Here’s the whole setlist for anyone who cares about such things:
Signs of Life
Here Comes the Night Time
No Cars Go
Put Your Money on Me
Infinite_Content (setlist.fm says this was the first time they’ve ever played this song in concert)
Good God Damn
Keep the Car Running
Crown of Love (first live performance of this song since 2014, according to setlist.fm)
The Suburbs (Continued)
Ready to Start
Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)
We Don’t Deserve Love
Everything Now (Continued)
They left the stage and walked to the back, still playing instruments while the crowd sang the singalong part from Wake Up. So yeah. This was great and Colin thought it was great and I’m pretty sure everyone there thought it was great. It made me more sad about missing that concert at the Odeon and I hate the Odeon. This was a dang fine show in what’s turning out to be a year full of them.
When you think about concerts, one word comes to mind: books.
I had a few shows already scheduled for Calgary when this thing popped up on Facebook and it sounded pretty neat. As part of a week-long festival of words by the name of Wordfest, there was a concert-slash-reading featuring musicians-slash-authors Geoff Berner, Rae Spoon, Kris Demeanor, and Caroline Connolly. There are readings and other events with all kinds of authors all week long; this particular session was called “How to Be… Wordy & Wild” and it was at the Big Secret Theatre downtown, where I first saw Hawksley Workman’s play The God That Comes a few years back.
I didn’t catch this initially, but that “How to Be” up there was selected because these are (mostly) the authors of the How to Be series of booklets. I am slow. But sometimes I get there eventually.
Or sometimes I get there early. The Big Secret Theatre is only two LRT stops away; for some reason, I still felt I needed to leave my grandma’s place over an hour beforehand to make sure I wasn’t late. This put me downtown with too much time to kill. I found a Tim Hortons and ordered a hot chocolate and played iPhone games until I could wander over at a more appropriate hour. The hot chocolate was both chocolatey and exceptionally hot; I wasn’t convinced it was going to cool off in time for me to make it to the show, but I powered through because I am an intrepid reporter and I am committed to my tasks. Unless I’m sleepy or it’s cold out or I just change my mind about going.
Let’s meet our authors. Klezmer punk accordionist Geoff Berner shows up regularly in these here reviews. He wrote the first volume in the series, How to Be an Accordion Player. Note that this booklet will not teach you how to play the accordion. It’s called How to Be an Accordion Player. This is an important distinction. Berner opened the event by explaining how the book series came to be; namely, they were commissioned by a shadowy, possibly Lithuanian, possible billionaire who may or may not have been in attendance.
Singer/songwriter Kris Demeanor is someone whose name I’ve heard forever but had never had the chance to see him perform before. He was Calgary’s inaugural poet laureate and he works with inner-city youth, so his booklet is titled How to Be an Asshole of Calgary.
The last time I saw Rae Spoon, it was probably 15 years ago and they were performing in the basement of a Cajun restaurant in Saskatoon. Since then, they’ve released a number of albums and gone on to widespread critical acclaim. I remember very little about that last show and I don’t have my old reviews immediately accessible (for which I’m thankful, as I probably sounded like a real dope), but I was really looking forward to the chance to see Spoon again. I also really miss that restaurant. Spoon’s booklet, the newest release of the four, is How to (Hide) Be(hind) Your Songs.
Caroline Connolly is an Alberta musician from a band called The Lovebullies. She also makes and sells gluten-free perogies, which is the noblest of callings. To the best of my knowledge, she’s never written a book. I feel like if she had, this would have come up. Carolyn Mark did, and it’s called How to Be a Boozy Chanteuse, which is how she was described in the New York Times. Mark was unable to attend, away “at an undisclosed location, doing very important things, like her hair,” so Connolly filled in for her. Mark did send her guitar, but upon inspection, it was just a guitar case filled with wine bottles and underwear. I’ve seen Carolyn Mark a few times and I’m 100% prepared to believe that this was legitimate and not a comedy bit.
The format was pretty simple; “like a folk festival workshop where no work gets done,” said Berner. They all took turns reading, then they read some more but also sang some songs, and then more reading and songs. The order was Berner > Connolly > Demeanor > Spoon > repeat, but folks would play and sing on each other’s songs.
You can probably infer how the readings went by the titles of the books. I mean, each booklet is about how to be something, so that’s what they talked about. And you may have also gathered that these are not super-serious instruction manuals for your life. Except maybe they should be? Spoon’s seemed the closest to being sincere, but all four authors got great laughs from the crowd – and, at times, from each other. Berner in particular has great comedic timing when telling stories.
He also nearly shot beer out his nose when Demeanor read the following lines about Calgary: “At the time of writing, our city is going through hard times. Aleppo hard.” Demeanor’s book seems like it might have the most laugh-out-loud potential of the four.
As for the songs, Connolly kicked it off with Mark’s tune 2 Days Smug and Sober, with Demeanor on guitar (and I believe Berner on accordion for this one). I really like this song and hadn’t heard it in forever. She did a fine job even if she needed a lyric sheet for reference.
I will break here to mention that if you have Apple Music, you can search for my SLCR 2017 playlist which features most everyone I’ve seen in concert this year. I had to make the hard choices about whether or not to include 2 Days on it, since Mark didn’t actually play here, but I ruled in favour of adding it to the list since I like it. It’s good to be the guy who makes rules.
Demeanor was up next with his song Liquidation World, which he played in lieu of reading the chapter of his booklet entitled How to Shop Like an Asshole. With witty lyrics and great guitar playing, I immediately decided I like this guy.
I couldn’t add Spoon’s first song to my playlist since it isn’t being released until next year. This made me sad because it’s called Do Whatever the Fuck You Want and I think this song presents some solid life advice. It also has a bridge where they spell out exactly what the song is about, so as to avoid any sort of misinterpretation. It was observed that Born in the USA should have had a bridge for that exact purpose. Spoon also noted that the more folk festival-friendly version of the song, Do Whatever the Heck You Want, is a big hit with children. I can totally see that.
Berner’s first tune was Hustle Advisory, off his brand new record Canadiana Grotesquica. It also has plenty of f-bombs in it and I’ve caught myself humming it all day. I’m not sure grandma approves.
The next round of songs was Swang Swang (or possibly Swing Swing said with a flourish?) by Connolly, which was one of her own, not Mark’s. Demeanor had the best title of the night with his next song, The Drunk You Is You. Spoon played their song Cowboy, and Berner covered Mark’s song Edmonton, one of my favourites of hers. The mention of Edmonton actually raised a gasp from one person in the audience, which Berner called attention to (“Yes. A sharp intake of breath.”) before encouraging us all to be open to learning about other cultures.
These were all interspersed with more readings, where we learned about asshole role models, how a boozy chanteuse should dress (if police aren’t suspicious, you’re not trying hard enough), Stalin, and how you can talk about Jesus when you secretly mean Carla. There was also some audience participation as we debated the pronunciation of halcyon and deigning (which I knew) and fecund (which I’m still not certain of).
After a round of very exuberant plugs for books and upcoming concerts, Spoon closed out the show with another excellently named song, My Heart is a Piece of Garbage. Fight Seagulls! Fight! This was picked to end the show since it references the Calgary Tower, only blocks away.
They were selling stuff and signing stuff after the show, so I went on a shopping spree. I already had Berner’s booklet from long ago, so I got the other three. They were $10 each or four for $30, so I picked up a second copy of How to be an Asshole of Calgary, since Colin just moved here last year and he could probably still use some advice. Demeanor kindly signed both copies and Spoon signed theirs as well.
While I didn’t need Berner’s booklet, I did pick up his new novel, The Fiddler is a Good Woman, days before its official release. His previous novel, Festival Man, was a great read so I’m really looking forward to this one. I got it signed too because I’m a dork like that.
This whole show was a goddamn delight and I smiled the whole time. What great, talented folks. Go see them all and go buy their books.
Random post to (long-windedly) tell you about yesterday (Sunday). Get a coffee and settle in…
My Dad and I went to Toronto.
This was the weekend wherein my lovely wife and I each get a day to ourselves to do whatever. On Saturday, she and my sister went to Stratford and saw a performance of Twelfth Night, which they said was excellent. Cool.
I’d been casting around for ideas as to what I wanted to do with my day for a while. I didn’t come up with much. But I knew I wanted to go somewhere, because soon enough the roads will be wintery and driving longer distances becomes less appealing. I discussed it with my Dad, and we ran through a list of possible places, but we didn’t warm to any of our ideas. That left Toronto, which is a decent haul from here, sure, but always holds much fun.
So away we went, through pouring rain and high winds that buffeted the car quite a bit. Several times I was really wrestling it back into line to keep the b*tches between the d*tches. Good times. It was also odd that mid-afternoon it hit well into the 20s (C), but coming back north around suppertime it was down to 5C. Quite a temperature drop in a few short hours.
Armed with umbrellas, we walked down from Bloor to Queen/Spadina. Dad took off to wander Chinatown, and I hit up…
Interestingly, I went through the whole main section of rock/pop and smaller sections (country, electronic, classical, soundtracks) and didn’t find a single disc that had to come home with me. That has never happened. I noticed that a lot of the CDs that (for years) would have been $2.99 were now $5.99, and the previous $5.99s are now $7.99, etc. This isn’t a deterrent to me, really, but I noticed.
I did find one in the International section:
Tinariwen – Tassili +10:1. Mr. 1537 recommends these guys, but I rarely see their albums in the wild. I paid $12.99 for this one brand new, still in the shrinkwrap. Deal!
Then I dug through the clearance racks and found one:
Big John Bates – Take Your Medicine. We saw his bluesy rockin’ burlesque show in Saskatoon at Amigos. Fun!
Next was the metal, punk and hip hop row (their rows are long) and I found a few more…
Black Flag – Who’s Got The 10 1/2?. Live album I have (inexplicably) never owned. Score!
Monster Truck – The Brown EP. I have the two albums, and for $3 this EP was an easy grab.
Dillinger Escape Plan – Ire Works, and Miss Machine. Two I didn’t have from them, and the MM turned out to be a CD/DVD version!
Beastie Boys – Triple Trouble (single). I see Beasties I don’t have for $2.99, I buy it. Especially if it has a sasquatch on it. It’s an album track and two unreleased remixes. Fine by me!
Then I hit the Recent Arrivals bin…
Extreme – Extreme. I was missing this early album, and $2.99 was fine!
Ronnie Wood – I Feel Like Playing. Solo Stone, for cheap? Oh yes please.
And then (probably) my two biggest scores at Sonic Boom:
Sloan – 4×4 Sampler, and SloanMania! In-Store Retail Sampler. Both are promo samplers. 4×4 has four album tracks from Navy Blues, while SloanMania! has 14 album tracks from four different albums (Navy Blues, One Chord To Another, Twice Removed, and Smeared). Each has a Murderecords catalogue number, but are promo only. No matter, they have a good home now! Sloooooo-oooooaaaan!
Then we walked up through Kensington Market and got coffee at the Moon Bean for my lovely wife. I got to thank the owner for all the years of coffee (it’s been since the late-90s, for us). He seemed pleased and thanked us for being loyal. D’awww…
Back up on Bloor, we had lunch at Paupers (of course). Then Dad took off to wander, and I (of course) went to…
I always do well here. Yesterday was no different…
Black Crowes – Before The Frost. This is cool because the CD is all black, looks like an LP on top. I hope my stereo reads it!
Eric’s Trip – Long Days Ride ‘Till Tomorrow. Live Eric’s Trip? Hells yes, please.
Holly Golightly – Laugh It All Up!. A compilation of Holly’s stuff. 22 tracks! Sweet.
Iron Maiden – Flight 666 Soundtrack. 2CD live set for $8? No-brainer.
Operation Ivy – Operation Ivy. An old classic, a replacement for my old beat-up copy.
Tinariwen – Amassakoul. And look here, a second one of theirs in one day! 1537 was smiling benevolently down upon me!
And then I hit the 3-for $10 bins. Yes, it’s plural now, they’ve really expanded this sale section. So awesome. I saw many things in there that I own and was shocked to see – I mean, Rollins Band’s End Of Silence? That should be in the main section. At full price! It’s still more album than most can properly handle, what a record! Anyway. I did very well here…
Matthew Good – Live At Massey Hall (2cd). Heck yes.
Corb Lund – Losin’ Lately Gambler. I like Corb.
Yngwie Malmsteen – The Yngwie Malmsteen Collection. I just like saying Yngwie. Yngwie Yngwie, Yngwie. A cool comp for me to try out his stuff.
Nirvana – From The Muddy Banks Of The Wishkah. Because I didn’t have it, now I do!
Bruce Dickinson – Accident Of Birth. Yup, Bruce Bruce in the sale bin? Crazy.
Les Claypool And The Holy Mackerel – Presents: Highball With The Devil. Time for some Claypool madness, but mainly bought ‘cos Rollins appears on here! ROLLINS.
Mars Volta – Amputechture. Someone recommended this one to me after I loved De-Loused In The Comatorium and Frances The Mute.
Alanis Morrisette – Jagged Little Pill Acoustic. I was just curious what this would sound like compared to the original album, so why not!
Julie Doiron – Heart And Crime. I will always (always) by Julie albums I don’t yet have. Julie rocks.
* I also got an item that should have been a Grail List item for one of our Dear Readers, but wasn’t ever on the list. They will be receiving it in future, and it will be theirs to reveal to all. I will share no details here.
Fantastic haul. Thanks, BMV!
By 5:30pm we were done, and it was time to roll out. It took us 3 hours to get back home, through more high winds and slashing rains, but it mattered little. We had a great day. Toronto proved (again) an excellent choice.
Thanks for Reading!
PS: While I did not find any actual Grail List items, though (as noted, above) I did find one that should have been and will distribute it accordingly, I surely did look for all of you!
Note to Mr. 1537: I did find Julian Cope’s Jehovakill, but it was on evil silver disc, and I guessed (assuming) that you were wanting it on LP (alas there were none of those).
Hi! It’s the most concertingest time of the year, with five shows in 8 days, and I’m in Calgary. I mean, I won’t be by the time you read this. But right now I am. But I wasn’t there for this show.
I’m visiting my grandma again, and I scheduled the trip to coincide with some concerts again, so I have a lot of reviews to write again, and I’m doing them on the iPad again, and I don’t like finalizing them on the iPad again, so expect to get a bunch of these once I’m back. Or, as it will be called in the future, “this week.”
Hopefully if I say that now, I’ll push myself to actually finish them all up in reasonable time. The odds of this happening seem slim.
#1 pet peeve of writing these on the iPad is not, as you might expect, the autocorrect. No, it is that my handy iPad keyboard – which is actually pretty decent – has a lock button where the backspace key would be on a full-sized keyboard. So I shut this thing down a lot. And swear. I initially wrote “And sweat” which was a typo but was not incorrect. Also, I’ve been eating chips and it’s hard to use the fingerprint scanner when your hands are covered in shameful grease.
Another issue with the iPad is that my collection of old reviews is in a Word document on a thumb drive. Maybe while I’m here, I will get on grandma’s computer and see if I can email myself a copy that the iPad can open. Until then, I’m going off memory, or as I like to call it, “lying.” Time for this known fantasist to impart some unlikely tales!
I believe I have seen the New Pornographers twice before. This makes three, and I was surprised and delighted to find that Heather was going to be at the show with us, since I’ve never seen the New Pornographers without her. I didn’t know she was in town until that morning and I would have suggested that she come to this except it was sold out. Luckily she already had a ticket, or knew someone, or something, I don’t know. Is this really relevant to your life?
In another irrelevant story, the last time I saw them, The Mountain Goats were the opening act. I vaguely knew the name, didn’t know anything about them, enjoyed them well enough, and promptly forgot about it. And I literally mean I forgot about it – I appreciate them more now (writing an entire album about old-timey wrestling and actually making it really good helps) and was shocked to re-read an old review and discover I’d seen them. Ask Mika and she will confirm that I full-on yelled “what the fuck, we saw The Mountain Goats?!”
Anyway. Mika and I got to the Exchange around 7:45 and wandered inside – before most people got there but too late to have to wait in line outside. In short, we won.
They gave us wristbands so we could buy alcohol like adults and I promptly got Mika an iced tea and myself a Wild Cherry Pepsi. I then spent about 15 minutes fighting with the stupid wristband because it was on tight and I decided I’d rather have wrist freedom than booze freedom.
Getting drinks was fun. First, the bartender’s vodka bottle slipped, and in grabbing for it, he pulled the nozzle off and sent the bottle to the floor. Then someone ordered a Caesar and he added all of the component parts before realizing they were out of Clamato. He offered the customer the glass of vodka, ice, and Tabasco – I think free! – but no takers.
Mark and Arlette showed up shortly before the openers started and staked out a nice leanin’ spot along the wall by the front of the stage. Mika and I, and eventually Heather, stayed back, centre stage, behind the people who were willing to shove their way to the front.
The openers were Born Ruffians. Before we went, Mika played me a few of their songs. I’m not certain, but I think they were called “You Probably Know This One. No?” and “I Think This One Was in a Car Commercial. Still No?”
Okay, so I am not exactly “informed.” But I know a few things – there were three of them and they play the kind of fun, slightly poppy rock that is right in my wheelhouse. I really liked them and made a vow to listen to more of them. And I’m pretty sure they played the song that may or may not have ever been in a car commercial, or maybe it was the other one, or probably both.
Between sets, Mika and Heather took off outside which was very sensible because everyone in the building was roasting. I went to chat with Mark and Arlette, who were visiting with Mark’s daughter Hayley. I mention her by name because Mark said I should. He’s been taking on more of a contributing editor role to these things of late. Too bad he won’t see this for a while – I’ve got four more reviews to write in about a week and I could use the guidance.
Anyway we had a nice chat – it’s nice when Mark can fit both concerts AND cutting up animals into his schedule. He seemed real interested in talking me into going to an upcoming psychobilly concert; I don’t know if this is because he wants to go or he just wants to see if he can talk me into doing so.
Historically, here’s how New Pornographers albums go for me:
- I listen to it
- I am nonplussed
- I listen to it some more
- Still nothing
- One song becomes a hit, or Mika plays it a bunch, or whatever – I hear it lots is the point
- It turns out that song is great
- It turns out all their songs are great
So I was surprised when I listened to the new record, Whiteout Conditions, and liked it from the get-go. That’s not supposed to happen!
I mention the album title because I need to fix my brain. Their last album was Brill Bruisers. It came out in 2014 if Apple Music is telling me the truth. Up until days before the show, I was convinced that Brill Bruisers had just come out and that the new songs I’d heard were just more singles from that album. It’s as if several years went by and I completely missed it. I’m hoping that by repeating the actual timeline I can sort myself out.
I can’t keep track of everyone in (and/or touring with) New Pornographers, but I don’t think that’s age-related feeblemindedness, they’ve just got a complicated family tree. AC Newman was there. And Kathryn Calder. Beyond that, I need to Google and I’m not about to do that.
Anyway, this was great. A nice mix of new stuff and old classics, good sound, crowd was into it despite collectively succumbing to heatstroke. The older stuff got the best reactions, as it will – Use It and Sing Me Spanish Techno were particularly crowd-pleasing, though The Jessica Numbers was the one that stuck in my head for a good long time afterwards. High Ticket Attractions, off the new record, seems like it might be one that becomes a quick favourite too. Mass Romantic, Brill Bruisers, The Laws Have Changed, The Bleeding Heart Show – I guess this means nothing to you if you don’t know the songs, but I do, and when I write them all out one after the other, I think “these guys have just a ton of great songs.”
Because writing out a list of songs and silently admiring them in awe is totally something I do all the time. That paragraph was just the worst.
Feels like it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. Not really by choice; I bailed on a few recent shows. Sorry if you pay attention to that UPCOMING CONCERTS blurb and were real interested in my takes on The Sadies and BA Johnston. (I would have said “they were good”) I blame work. Had some late nights to prep for a new product launch, and I get to do it again shortly. So it goes. I made a little extra coin and got a pile of tickets to new shows to make up for it.
Onto Steve Earle. Good fella. Good songwriter. Good musician. Saw him last year. He came back to town surprisingly quickly, and I was on the fence about going. Not because I had a bad time last time – liked him a bunch – but I’m starting to feel the pinch from going to a million shows a year and I need to dial it back a bit. Plus the casino switched to a new ticketing system and it was tricky, at first, to actually select a seat – you could only pick a section. But then they got their act together (or I did – who really knows?) and it became one of those “I’m having a rough and/or boring day at work, I need a treat” concerts. I’d say there will be fewer of those going forward, but history shows that only lasts for a month or two and then I’m back at it.
I can think of very little of interest surrounding this show. It sold out, I guess that’s important to mention. And it was relevant upon arriving, as the drive into the parkade was ridiculous. I screamed helpful advice from the inside of my car (“POINT YOUR CAR TOWARDS THE RAMP AND THEN DRIVE UP IT”) but nobody heard or heeded it. It was slow-moving mass chaos. Someone would try to park and nobody would know what to do. There was no danger of running out of spaces – the parkade has an entire extra level that nobody seems to know is there. Except me, I guess. I parked up there, above the rest of humanity, free from the maddening crowds but an observer thereof. Then I walked down the same pee-smelling stairwell as everyone else.
I had a cheap aisle seat at the back row of the balcony. The folks in my row were pleasant and didn’t make me get out of their way too often. You’re bored right now but I assure you this was nice. And I don’t have a whole ton to talk about.
Our openers were The Mastersons, who I’d never heard of except it turned out I’d seen them before. They were two members of Earle’s band last time he was in town. And this time. Earle himself opened the show by introducing them, which I thought was a really nice touch. Their songs were country-ish singer/songwriter stuff with him on guitar and her usually on guitar or fiddle. That’s not saying much but I feel like you get the gist of it. The sound wasn’t great for their set – the instruments were fine but the voices were mic’ed really high (so it was the opposite of my usual complaint, at least) and came in kind of shrill. Nearby fellow old people said the same thing.
Earle and his band, The Dukes – I want to say six people in total – entered the stage to the sounds of Johnny Cash’s cover of Rusty Cage. Last time out, they were on the anniversary tour for Guitar Town and played the whole album start to finish. With a little more freedom in the setlist this time, I thought I might hear more songs I knew, but that didn’t really happen. Instead I just got a wider variety of tunes that were new to me, along with a lot of the same hits and covers (Copperhead Road, Guitar Town, Devil’s Right Hand, Hey Joe) as before. And like before, this was all real good. The vocals were a little muddy but still better than they were for The Mastersons.
Apparently, I don’t have much to say. It might also be apparent that I wasn’t 100% into this show. Not the band’s fault – I was just kinda tired and I was ready to be done a little bit before they were. But whatever. I still had a nice time and all.
So, September is gone. We suffered through some real heat, days on end of 32C nonsense. Then, one day, it literally dropped overnight to more seasonal 15C or so. It was like shifting without a clutch. Clunk.
Apart from our trip to Taranna (about which I posted), not much else is new. I bought a bunch of records. Some artists I love have been or will be releasing new work. And so we enter October.
Life has taken over, in all sorts of ways (most of them good). And so I’ve been reflecting on this hiatus from the blog, and thinking I’m not going to call it a hiatus anymore. I don’t have another name for it, except that this has become the state of things.
Whenever I think of coming back even partially to what I used to do, it just makes me tired. So I don’t do it. I’m still listening to a ton of music, still organizing the man cave. But I’m truly enjoying just listening without thinking about how to write it up. The only time I get the urge to blog is when I get a new release, and even then I can simply remind myself to just listen and enjoy it.
Instead of worrying about it, or beating myself up about it, or forcing something out there just because some vestigial response tells me I ought to be doing so, I’ve accepted that this is the new state of things. This is not to say that I won’t post about this or that sometimes, but there’s no schedule, no plan, and currently no urge to do so.
Of course I will still be reading your blogs, though I will try to keep comments short. I’ll rely heavily on the Like button, because I do like what you folks do! You may see an album review here or there, if something really moves me but, until then, I’ll see you in the comments.
Breaking hiatus momentarily, just to share the treasures from our most recent Taranna trip. I’d announced this trip a week or so ago, requesting your updates to the Grail List. I figured the least I could do is share what I found on my sojourn into the Big Smoke.
There’s a lot to go through, here. Get a coffee, put your feet up. Ready? Here we go…
The city was hot and muggy, difficult to walk all day (as I did). Places with A/C definitely won the day. We were in town because my lovely wife was attending a 2-day conference by Norman Doidge on “all the latest in neuroplasticity.” She was excited to attend, this talk was a big deal. The trip fell near enough to our (14th) wedding anniversary, so I got the days off work and tagged along. Can’t beat a paid-for hotel downtown for a couple of days!
So as I was compiling this post, a thought occurred: It looks like I bought a ton (because I did). But I really bargain-shopped too, and remarkably, all of this came in well under budget. I actually came away from Sonic Boom and BMV having spent quite a bit less than expected! That’s awesome, of course.
Most are CD (sorry, 1537), unless noted.
DAY ONE: MONDAY
Up bright and early, breakfast out, then walked my lovely wife to her conference. Killed a wee bit of time just wandering until stuff opened up (usually 10am or 11am). First on the agenda, as it was nearest the hotel…
As always, excellent finds in this mainstay place to visit:
Various Artists – Black On Black: A Tribute To Black Flag: This one I own, but it’s an earlier version with 9 tracks. This one is the updated version with 6 extra tracks tacked on to the front of the album, making a total of 15 tracks!
Ani DiFranco – Evolve: Yes, there are still Ani albums I don’t have, but I’m getting close to having them all.
Morcheeba – Dive Deep: I loved Big Calm, and impulse bought this because it was cheap.
Gojira – The Way Of All Flesh: Hell yes. \m/ \m/
Wynton Marsalis – Levee Low Moan: Soul Gestures In Southern Blue Vol. 3: Replacement copy. My old one’s a bit scratchy.
Frank Black And The Catholics – Devil’s Workshop & Pistolero: Two I didn’t have, and got them cheap. Yes.
Jurassic 5 – Power In Numbers (CD/DVD): No idea what’s on the DVD here (yet), but I loved this album.
Stevie Ray Vaughan And Double Trouble – The Sky Is Crying: Because SRV. ‘Nuff said.
And the big score from Sonic Boom was:
Cowboy Junkies – Trinity Revisited (CD/DVD)
Trinity Session is one of my favourite records, and this is the session where they went back to the same church, years later, and re-did the songs. With guests Ryan Adams, Vic Chesnutt, Natalie Merchant and Jeff Bird. YES.
Awesome scores. Thanks, Sonic Boom!
NB: I found a Grail List item for 1537 at Sonic Boom, the Bob Dylan Bootleg Series 1-3 on LP, but he confirmed my guess that the price was too rich (for now). But I did find one!
After lunch at Tortilla Flats, I decided to walk out to Rotate This. Except they’d moved since my last visit. Waaaay out to Ossington and Dundas. Since I was already halfway there I walked it, but it went from stroll to heat death march fairly quickly. The new spot’s nice, but they don’t have CDs anymore, just LPs. I only got one item:
Jake Bugg – Live At Silver Platter (RSD release). Yeah, I have this already, but this can be my play copy.
Just around the corner from Rotate This was this wee shop, which I figured I may as well check out since I was already to hell and gone. The gentleman in there was very friendly, helpful, but he didn’t have anything I’d wanted. Left empty-handed. Then I trudged alllllll the way back to University and then down to the hotel. What a hike, I wouldn’t do it (on foot) again. Glad I’d brought water.
Later that evening, my lovely wife and I walked north to Harbord for supper on an upstairs patio that was like being in a treehouse, then onward to Bloor. We had excellent dessert at Future Bakery, and then, of course, there was…
BMV (Part 1)
I always do well at this place…
Frank Black – Fast Man Raider Man (2CD): Keeping that Frank Black ball rolling!
Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan – Sunday At Devil Dirt: The venerable J. of Resurrection Songs has me keeping my eyes peeled for Lanegan’s work. Result!
Jaco Pastorius – S/T: This is a remaster with two bonus tracks. Essential.
John Doe And The Sadies – Country Club: Because Sadies. Also, cool collaboration!
Weakerthans – Live At The Burton Cummings Theatre (CD/DVD): Don’t know why I’ve not owned this til now, as I love Weakerthans. But here it is and it’s all good!
And as always, BMV has their 3-for-$10 bins, which always yield treasures. This time they had so much stock the regular spot was filled, and there was another bin in the center with more!
Godspeed You Black Emperor! – Yanqui U.X.O.: I didn’t have this one, right on.
Ron Sexsmith – Exit Strategy Of The Soul, and Time Being: Two excellent albums from a brilliant songwriter.
Jayhawks – Tomorrow The Green Grass: Always wanted to hear this one. Now I can!
Victor – Victor: Alex Lifeson solo? Yes please.
54-40 – Goodbye Flatland: I will always buy 54-40, of course.
And the big score from BMV was:
Refused – The Shape Of Punk To Come (2CD/1DVD)
Hereby hangs a wee tale. I’ve already reviewed this and LOVED it. On another city trip (perhaps my last trip?), I’d seen this special edition but I left it because I already owned the album and I had other goodies to get already. This trip, it was still there! Naturally it is obvious that the Universe believes that this one belongs to me, so it is now mine. It has the album, a full live album at Umea Open 1998, and the DVD is a film called Refused Are Fucking Dead. Yessss… Glory.
Bloody brilliant stuff. Thanks, BMV!
NB: I was also tempted by five John Frusciante solo albums. But I left them because I already had lots (above). I walked away knowing I’d regret this decision.
DAY TWO: TUESDAY
After dropping my lovely wife at her conference for 8:30, I had time to kill, as most places don’t open til 10 or 11. So I wandered across Queen, through Chinatown on Spadina, and up to College, just taking in the city… eventually I found myself back on Bloor after appreciating the shade and quiet of the Annex. I had no real reason to be back on Bloor, just wandering as the day heated up and that’s how far my legs carried me… Kops wasn’t open til 11, but BMV opened at 10, so…
BMV (Part 2):
I wandered their book sections, then did a bit more of a vinyl dig downstairs. I found one item in their LP sale bin, which I brought home:
One Speed Bike – Droopy Butt Begone!: Any friends of GYBE! ought to be a friend of mine, though I read online at lunch that this one isn’t their best. I’ll find out!
Also, because I reasoned I wouldn’t be back to the city til (likely) the spring, and because I don’t see these too often, I did pick up those five John Frusciante albums. I know. I am the king!
John Frusciante – To Clara
John Frusciante – Inside Of Emptiness
John Frusciante – The Will To Death
John Frusciante – To Record Only Water For Ten Days
John Frusciante and Josh Klinghoffer – A Sphere In The Heart Of Silence
Thanks again, BMV!
I had lunch at Paupers (as always), then did some bookshop research for my lovely wife on both College and Harbord, ultimately finding all three items she wanted. Result!
Heading back down through the Annex, I stopped at…
SHE SAID BOOM!
This place always has treasures too. Great music and books. Check it…
Small Faces – Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake: Always meant to grab this one but never saw it at a suitable price. This time it was in my range!
Various Artists – The Rebirth Of Cool, Vol. 3, 4 and 7 (2cd set): I already own Vol.1 and love it, so it was a no-brainer to grab up these three later additions to the series.
She Said Boom! also has bins on the floor, under the CD racks, where everything is $1. Often, there is damage to the packaging or the disc itself, but if you’re dilligent and dig through, you can find pristine copies of stuff you want. For $1. Last time I was there, I got two Blue Rodeo albums I needed from these bins. This time I got:
Jim Bryson – The North Side Benches: I have no idea if this is good, but we saw him perform in concert one time so I sort of impulse grabbed it up. I mean, it was $1.
Serena Ryder – Harmony: I do love me some Serena Ryder and this was one of the few of hers I did not already own. Right on.
Sarah Harmer – Oh Little Fire: Harmer’s records are just must-owns. Neko Case appears on one track, here!
It was hot as hell in the store, but I’m glad I stuck it out. Thanks a lot, She Said Boom!
So then, I wandered back south to the hotel, ditched the stuff in the car, and realized I still had an hour to kill before meeting my lovely wife. Finding myself on Queen St. again, I hit up…
KOPS RECORDS (Queen St.)
Because of course. They had a lot of LPs I would love to have brought home (seriously, tons), but I feel I showed excellent restraint. I only bought one LP for myself…
R.L. Burnside – I Wish I Was In Heaven Sitting Down: Brand new copy, still sealed, for cheap. Talk about a no-brainer.
NB: I did find another Grail List item in this Kops location. But I cannot disclose what it was, or for whom it was procured, as it is being kept secret for now. But suffice it to say, excitement level was pretty damn high!
And that was the extent of my forays into the shoppes.
My lovely wife and I grabbed supper at Fran’s on Shuter St., across from Massey Hall. I had a minor heart attack when I read their sign that said Wynton Marsalis and Jazz At Linolcn Center were playing. I LOVE Wynton Marsalis’ work. But it turned out that the tree blocking their sign and the angle at which I was reading it made me misread what it said. That night’s show was Seu Jorge. Wynton was playing the next night. But still! I would LOVE to see him perform at some point!
We blasted out of the city, made it home in good time. We were exhausted, from the heat, from all of the walking, from the energy of the city, but the conference was a full-on success, and I consider my scores a success as well (evidence: see above). This much music will buoy me for a looong time to come! Can’t wait to start digging into them all and discovering their sounds.
If you have read this far, thank you. It was a long haul and you stuck it out. Well done!
Breaking hiatus to let you know I’ll be in Toronto September 18/19, with two full days left to my own devices… of course, I’m gonna hit up the record shoppes as part of my travels.
Which means that y’all should have a look at your Grail Lists, see if there are any changes to be made. If you have any additions/subtractions to your lists, get them to me in the comments (below) by next Saturday, September 16.
If you don’t have a Grail List, or don’t know what it is, it is at the top of our main page as MASTER GRAIL LIST. Check it out, and bookmark it so you can help out our fellow Readers!
Here’s How It Works: We like to encourage Community, here at the KMA. And we all have albums we just can’t find, have never seen in our travels, maybe not even online (and especially not at good prices). The idea of the Grail List is that we all have your impossible items in the back our minds (or in/on our phones) when we’re checking out our local record shoppes. Never know when someone will find something you’ve never seen/wanted for ages just by walking past and looking! Community! If you have a few items like that, those ones you’ve wanted for years and have never seen, put your list in the comments (below) and I’ll add it to the Grail List.
Many years ago, I was in line to get into the Odeon in Saskatoon to see Hawksley Workman. This drunk dude stumbled down the street and asked us what the line was for. Someone told him it was Guns N’ Roses, who were broken up or fighting with each other or something at the time.
“YEAH,” said our new drunken friend, “GUNS IS FUCKIN’ ROSES.”
They sure is.
And I really thought that was as close as I’d ever come to seeing Guns N’ Roses, but here we are. Remember how Mika initially really wanted to go to Bryan Adams despite having never shown any previous interest in Bryan Adams? That was kind of the situation here again. Guns N’ Roses was announced for our new stadium well before Adams was, and Mika seemed real keen on going. Me? I dunno. I knew all the big hits but I also didn’t care so much. But I’ll go to pretty much anything for any reason, and Mika wanting to go is reason enough.
Plus, who figured this would ever happen? They were giant stars but also the textbook example of rock n’ roll scandal and excess. Books have been written about their troubled history and it would take someone far more knowledgeable than me to put together the timeline of breakups, reunions, and personnel changes. The idea that they’d hit a point where something vaguely resembling the classic lineup was able to survive an entire tour together was inconceivable. But here we are.
I mentioned that I am not really a Guns N’ Roses fan. Really, I shouldn’t approach this like a normal review. It should be more of a fish-out-of-water piece, like when Vice sends a writer to a Trump rally or the Gathering of the Juggalos. That said, my only initial observation about G’n’R fans is that they obey no rule about not wearing the band’s shirt to their own concert.
We got to the mall at about 5:30 to catch the stadium shuttle. They’ve finally got the get-to-the-stadium part relatively down. We were on a bus and in motion within 15 minutes. A line of similar length took an hour and 15 minutes for Bryan Adams, causing us to miss the first few songs from Our Lady Peace. This time, we got inside, walked up the ramp, and came out on our level just in time for the first few songs by Our Lady Peace.
Since tickets went on sale so long ago, I had to buy them before ever having visited our new stadium. Also, I didn’t want to spend a ton of money. Folks, I have to tell you, mistakes were made. I knew we were close to the stage and up high, but we were much closer and much higher than I remembered. We were in the back row of the section, looking down on the stage from the side. The view was less than ideal. The sound, worse. And we were all the way on the opposite side of the stadium from the buses, ensuring that it would be a long wait to get home. James, this was not your finest work. In fact, I’d go so far as “catastrophic failure.”
So, Our Lady Peace. I had hopes that since they’d just played here three months ago, we’d get a different set of tunes. Nope! It was almost the exact same setlist. The good news is we showed up in time to hear Naveed and Superman’s Dead this time. The bad news is that the sound was worse – but again, that was a function of where we were sitting. I don’t blame them for the sound. I do blame them for not mixing things up at all. Whatever. Much like last time, this was fine if not thrilling.
OLP finished at 7:00 and Guns N’ Roses was scheduled to start at 7:30. Mika had been told that G’n’R was starting an hour late in each city along this tour. If anything, this seemed awfully optimistic judging by Axl Rose’s long and storied past. I gave it some time for the first wave of people to disperse and at about 6:50, I left in search of food. Ridiculous lineups at every vendor, of course. For convenience’s sake, I went to the one nearest our seats and got poutine since it appeared to be the only thing they sold with a lid – and I’d need that assistance when carrying the snacks back to my seat, since I also got us each a bottle of water and I wasn’t allowed to keep the caps on them. It was an awkward walk back.
Anyway, my foreshadowing is never subtle and you’ve already figured out that Guns N’ Roses started at 7:30 on the nose and I missed the first song or two. I’d tell you what they were, but I have no idea. I went into the show wondering just how many G’n’R songs I actually knew. Talking to Mika, I figured there were actually quite a few – but the sound was so muddy where we were that there were a lot of songs that sounded familiar but I couldn’t quite place. She even said something similar and she’s much better at Name That Tune than I am. All of the really big singles were apparent, of course – Welcome to the Jungle, November Rain, Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, You Could Be Mine, stuff like that. There was an unexpected cover of Black Hole Sun, which I assume was a tribute to the late Chris Cornell. That was nice. And they played Live and Let Die with extra pyro. I’ve said this before but pyrotechnics are my least favourite of all the -technics, and while our seats may have sucked if we wanted to see or hear the band, they were GREAT if you wanted to be close to fireworks and other explosions. Which I assure you I did not.
I’m just gonna say this – I was not the intended audience for this show and I did not dig it at all. Everyone else I heard from loved it. Listen to them and not to me. I’m the problem here. Put me in better seats, and I’d likely have had a good time. I mean, there are all kinds of bands that I don’t really care about that I’d go see just for the spectacle of it all, and this was quite a spectacle. And the songs I knew (and could make out) were enjoyable despite everything. Maybe we should have left our seats and watched the show standing on the concourse level. Lots of people sitting near us did that. Or maybe I should have just held off on buying tickets – the show didn’t come close to selling out, and on the day of the show, one friend got decent seats for much cheaper than ours, and another saw $250-per-person floor seats going for around what we paid. There are multiple lessons here.
Having dealt with several bus debacles leaving the stadium, we skipped out on the encore in favour of a quicker departure (so no Paradise City for us). This turned out to be a surprisingly amusing decision since we wound up near some of the drunkest humans I’ve seen in quite some time. One man in particular told a loud story about how he met a lady at the show and she gave him her number and they kissed and it was his “first kiss in a looooooooong time.” He then detailed his plans to continue drinking (“water’s for pussies”) and how he lost his hotel key but was going to talk the hotel clerk into letting him into the room even though it was under someone else’s name. Then he expressed a great interest in getting some cocaine and declared that a woman he was sitting with was “the coke queen of Yorkton.” He then backtracked, with a really loud and exaggerated “I’M JUST KIDDING ABOUT THAT. ONLY KIDDING.” And then we got to the mall and he peed on the side of it. I avoided eye contact with Mika for the entire bus ride home because I’d have lost it otherwise. Good sir, you and your cocaine and pee salvaged my evening.
• The Sadies (September 14)
• BA Johnston (September 15)
• Steve Earle & The Dukes (September 27)
• The New Pornographers w/Born Ruffians (October 6)
• Whitehorse w/Terra Lightfoot (October 13)
• Sarah Slean (October 14)
• Martha Wainwright (October 22)
• David Myles w/Port Cities (October 24)
• Headstones w/SNAKEandtheCHAIN (November 17)
• Cold Specks (November 24)
• Tanya Tagaq & the Regina Symphony Orchestra (November 25)
It was pretty early in the year when this show was announced and tickets went on sale. Mika’s a long-time fan, and I’ve seen k.d. lang a few times before and knew it would be good, so I was pretty pleased about this. I had high hopes of summoning some more of my front-row magic that’s been doing so well of late, but no dice – those were premium VIP tickets with the exclusive merchandise, meet & greet, all that good stuff. As for the regular seats, they were plentiful but also selling quite quickly – every pair I tried to grab wound up sold to someone else before I could complete the online transaction. Rather than get shut out entirely, I retreated to the comfortable familiarity of two seats on the end of Row L For Legroom, but – if you can possibly believe this – on the other side of the concert hall this time. Wild!
Several months later, the Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather dream match was signed, and of course, it was on the same night as this show. Friends immediately made plans and I immediately declined them. Skipping the ridiculous sports spectacle of the year in favour of going to see k.d. lang was possibly not the most macho I’ve ever felt*, but I have no regrets. The fight was better than everyone was expecting, but I can’t adequately describe how low that bar was set. I still haven’t seen it and have no real need to.
*actually, it was about on par with every day
We got to the Conexus Arts Centre with only a little time to spare – I always show up way early and am always pleased with myself when I fight the urge and things work out alright. The place was packed – tickets sold out on the first day, with the exception of the aforementioned VIP packages. And those ones went soon after. We got inside, checked out the Stuff Table, and found our seats. I was delighted to learn that Row L For Legroom has the same legroom on either side. I was more delighted to not feel like the oldest person at a concert. Far from it – the guy sitting in front of us asked us how we got in, since it looked like there’d been an age restriction at the door.
Our openers were local duo Kacy & Clayton. You may remember them from such concert reviews as #225, when they opened for (and then played with) Ryan Boldt. Since then, they’ve put out at least one more album and have done some shows in the US. That’s neat! I like watching people’s careers progress.
This was a lot like the last time I saw them, though they didn’t have any other musicians this time. He still played guitar. She still sang. They did pleasant folky songs that sounded nice if somewhat similar to one another. The sound wasn’t the best and I found it hard to make out the lyrics. One song made repeated mention of the Santa Fe Trail. If you want more information than that, I don’t know what to tell you. Clayton said “I see you guys have a lot of exits” which was funny but then I was distracted by just how many glowing red exit signs there are there. I suppose it beats not having enough. And now I’m distracted again.
The problem with aisle seats is dealing with all the people passing by you, so we headed out into the lobby for the intermission. Don’t let the change in location fool you – we did the same stuff as ever; namely, showed each other cute animal pictures (and occasional Japanese foods) on Instagram. We’re a thrill to hang out with and I don’t know why we aren’t surrounded by hangers-on at all times.
This tour was to mark the 25th anniversary of k.d. lang’s album, ingénue. These shows usually make me feel old but I can’t say I was a huge fan of lang’s at the time, so it didn’t have any effect on me. And to be fair, I didn’t see many 16-year-old boys at this show either. Anyway, lang was – of course – playing the album all the way through. I’d assumed I’d heard the album a bunch since my mom had it, but I only really knew the two singles. It turns out that it’s a well-designed album for these kinds of anniversary tours, since you get the first single Miss Chatelaine three songs in, and the big hit, Constant Craving, is the very last track. I wonder how often that happens. It has to be rare, doesn’t it, where the album’s big hit is the very last song? Now I want to go look at all my CDs. Where are my CDs? What are CDs?
Anyway, that album ain’t that long – I didn’t mean to use “ain’t” there but I’m not changing it now – so she played a few more of her own songs before closing the main set with three covers of Canadian artists. You likely know which ones. The crowd did, with one guy yelling “HALLELUJAH” as soon as she said she was going to do a few covers, and someone else yelling “JONI MITCHELL” a few words into lang’s story about playing Mitchell’s song in front of her. I thought “I bet the third will be Neil Young” and it was. She has her go-tos.
When that dude yelled for Hallelujah, she said “I’m not sure how to take that” and everyone laughed. And I get it; if you shout out “Hallelujah!” people will think you’re REAL into whatever you were just told. But I wonder if it’s weird for her. She’s more than accomplished as a songwriter in her own right, but the song that’s become her trademark is someone else’s. And she wasn’t the first to do it in that style – her version is more Cale or Buckley than Cohen. Who knows. Maybe that’s not something she’d care about. Just thinking out loud here. Except written down. But you know.
Anyway, she did a few more songs for the encore, thanked us for coming out (“and if you DID come out tonight, congratulations”), and that was that. Her voice is as strong as ever and her band is great, so this was basically exactly what (and as good as) I expected. I do think I liked her last show here a little better, mainly because she didn’t have to play a whole album in order and had a little more freedom when picking the songs – but that’s a minor thing and one I kinda expected. All told, I had a delightful time and am more than satisfied with my life choices. You missed out, 16-year-old boys. I hope you liked your punching. And I hope somebody skipped to the end and read that without context.
Hey folks, your friendly neighbourhood Aaron here.
So August has come and gone. The hiatus is still going strong. Gotta admit, it’s been nice to just chill and listen to tunes without wondering how to write it up, though occasionally I think up some fun stuff out of reflex. I haven’t written any of it down, though. I’ll worry about how to approach these pages whenever I decide to come back (and not before).
This month flew by. We had a week at the cottage, which was fantastic. The kids ran themselves ragged on the beach every day (as they should). We did stay in during the eclipse, because what’s the first thing a six-year-old will do when you say “don’t look at the sun?” Exactly. Still, we needed the time away, it was lovely. And now it’s September and the kids start school on Tuesday. Crazy.
HUGE thanks to Manipulant for sending me a CD copy of the excellent Eclectro album.
Cheers! I wish you every success!
Grail List Item Success!
Yup, I got me a copy of the 2CD Neil Young tribute called Borrowed Tunes.
Now all I need is the (even more rare) Borrowed Tunes II…
Check it out (below):
Disc 1: Out of the Blue: An Acoustic Tribute to Neil Young
Colin Linden, “Intro”
Hemingway Corner, “Tell Me Why”
Jann Arden, “Birds”
Crash Vegas, “Pocahontas”
Lawrence Gowan, “Heart of Gold”
Jim Witter and Cassandra Vasik, “Human Highway”
Jeff Healey, “Harvest”
Breits, “Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing”
Lori Yates, “Helpless”
Waltons, “Only Love Can Break Your Heart”
Amanda Marshall, “Don’t Let It Bring You Down”
Prescott-Brown, “Comes a Time”
Malcolm Burn, “Pardon My Heart”
Rose Chronicles, “Old Man”
Cowboy Junkies, “Tired Eyes”
Rheostatics and Bourbon Tabernacle Choir, “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere”
David Wilcox, “Transformer Man”
Stephen Fearing, “Thrasher”
Marc Jordan, “Borrowed Tune”
Disc 2: Into the Black: An Electric Tribute to Neil Young
Skydiggers, “Mr. Soul”
Barney Bentall and the Legendary Hearts, “Like a Hurricane”
Our Lady Peace, “The Needle and the Damage Done”
Junkhouse, “F*!#in’ Up”
Blue Rodeo, “I’ve Been Waiting for You”
Big Sugar, “When You Dance I Can Really Love”
Colin Linden, “Tonight’s the Night”
Treble Charger, “Albuquerque”
54-40, “Cortez the Killer”
Chocolatey (Steven Page, Tyler Stewart, Steve Duffy), “Burned”
Philosopher Kings, “Coupe De Ville”
hHead, “Look Out for My Love”
Andy Curran, “Cinnamon Girl”
Wild T and the Spirit, “Down by the River”
Randy Bachman, “The Loner”
Mystery Machine, “Southern Man”
Art Bergmann and One Free Fall, “Prisoners of Rock ‘n Roll”
One day, I found a CDr in a parking lot, well away from any cars (did someone throw it?). It was labelled “I Like To Fuck.” No one was around, so how could I not bring a disc like that home to investigate? Exactly.
And what’s on this CD? 13 songs, none of which I knew the song or the artist, when I played it back.
Thanks to Google Lyrics, I discovered that these were the tracks:
Lil Jon – Patron
Britney Spears – 3
Drake – Forever
Hot Rod – I Like To Fuck
Lil Mama – Shawty Get Loose
Cascada – Evacuate The Dancefloor
Obie Trice – Got Some Teeth
Obie Trice – The Set Up
Obie Trice – Shit Hits The Fan
Christina Milian – Dip It Low
Ciara – Click Flash
Fergie – Labels Or Love
Field Mob – So What (f. Ciara)
And what did I think of these songs? Folks out there like this stuff, and power to them, but this wasn’t really for me. I loved the title of the mix, though!
I showed my son that simple four note intro to Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters on the guitar a while back.
The song came on in the car the other day, and he said “Hey! I can play that song!”
We were jamming a hits of Queen in the car* and the kids loved the lines “She’s a Killer Queen / Gunpowder, gelatine / Dynamite with a laser beam / Guaranteed to blow your mind / Anytime.”
They made up all kinds of ideas about what it could possibly mean to be dynamite with a laser beam. The laughter in the backseat was beautiful.
See you again soon…
* For fans of Good Omens, you already know that every album left in the car will eventually become a greatest hits of Queen. Natch.
Did I ever tell you about how we were going to Nashville to see the solar eclipse? I can’t remember if I ever said as much in a review. The logic was that anywhere along the path of totality could be cloudy, so we should go someplace fun so that it wouldn’t be a wasted trip if we got rained out. Nashville seemed more interesting (if farther) than, say, Kearney, Nebraska. Not that it matters – we didn’t go. I mention this only because the Beck tour was announced shortly after we decided against the trip. I thought if we could get tickets, it might make a nice consolation prize.
One challenge: tickets were going on sale on a busy Friday morning when – apart from my manager – I was the only one of my team in at work. To that end, I booked myself a 10-minute meeting, from 9:55 to 10:05 a.m. I found out about the show from an article on The AV Club but didn’t hear of much hype locally, so while I figured tickets would sell fast, I thought I might have a decent chance. At 9:55, I logged into the site and spammed refresh while my manager went in search of coffee. By the time she was back, I had two tickets – front row centre. The process was so painless that I didn’t really believe everything would work out until we actually got to our seats.
With an 8:00 p.m. start time, we drove up to Saskatoon in the afternoon. The drive was uneventful, though not exceptionally well-timed on my part. Had we left earlier, we could have had dinner before the show. Later, and we could have just gone straight there. Instead, we parked downtown on a Sunday evening with just enough time to kill to be irritating. Eventually, we wandered over to Starbucks for a coffee and an iced tea, respectively, ensuring we’d be appropriately mildly caffeinated for the concert. I think the kids call this “pre-drinking.”
Walking towards TCU Place, we passed people leaving with armloads of Beck merchandise. Once inside, we could see that the Stuff Table was doing booming business. There was nothing particularly unique – shirts, vinyl, hats – but people were snapping it up. I didn’t bother getting anything.
We hung out in the lobby for a bit and watched people before taking our seats. I didn’t feel particularly old or young – I think we were decidedly average as far as the crowd went. I suppose that would make sense – Beck’s been making music for a long time. Loser, his first big hit, came out when I was in Grade 9. And I’ve never really understood how he had such a successful career after that one. Which is not any kind of commentary on his talent – it’s just weird that a guy could have a massive hit with what was almost a novelty song and still be popular over 25 years later. That song was perfect one-hit wonder fodder but he managed to avoid that trap.
A few days before the show, they announced that McRorie would be the opening act. Do you know who McRorie is? I did not. I meant to do internet research before the show, but kept forgetting. Finally, I watched five seconds of a video of what looked like a one-man band before getting distracted and never going back to it. Internet video is a wonderful innovation that is completely wasted on me. That said… I pretty much got it? McRorie is, indeed, a one-man band. He wore a black kilt with two keyboard-type instruments slung over his hips like holsters. There were drum pads on his feet that played when he stomped or walked. There were also drum pads on his chest that he could hit. His arms were wired up so that when he brought one arm up, cymbals crashed. He could also apply any number of filters on his voice. And I think he might have been wearing Google Glass. If this does not sound amazing to you, we can no longer be friends.
For the most part he did covers, ranging from Fight for Your Right to Sunday Morning Coming Down to Gin & Juice to Rockin’ in the Free World to Hallelujah, which lent itself especially well to a stomping lunatic with a robot voice punching himself in the chest:
She tied you to her kitchen chair
She broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah
[CHEST PUNCH DRUM] [CHEST PUNCH DRUM] [CHEST PUNCH DRUM] [ARM RAISE CYMBALS]
In a few nights we will see kd lang and she will surely perform Hallelujah and it will be great but in such a different way. You don’t want to know how much I’d pay to see the two of them do the song together.
He also did a few originals. One was called Cowboys Take Drugs Too and was about exactly that. I think he said he wrote that in Plunkett, which is the smallest of small Saskatchewan towns and yet somehow this still makes perfect sense. Another, his closing number, was called Nuclear Party Song, a worryingly timely number about partying being the only sensible thing to do while the bombs fall. Those who party the hardest will survive the nuclear holocaust. Based on our volume when yelling “PARTY,” our section was deemed likely to survive, so we’ve got that going for us.
During the break, Mika and I did what we always do – showed each other cute animal pictures that our respective friends posted on Instagram. We’ve got a lot of concerts coming up and a lot of mutual friends, so if I follow you on Instagram and she doesn’t, be a pal and post some cute animal pics, okay?
Beck and his band hit the stage a few minutes after 9:00 and launched right into Devils Haircut. Beck is kind of a weird one for me – I’ll get really into one album and then skip one entirely. I had no idea what this show would be like and I knew there was a chance that I’d only know a handful of songs. But this was not the case! It was almost as if he skipped everything that I did. Not only did he play most of the big singles, but there were five songs from my favourite album of his, Guero. That surprised me because it’s not one I ever hear people list among his best, but whatever, it worked out great for me. We got Black Tambourine, Qué Onda Güero, Go It Alone, Girl, and E-Pro, all great. Girl has been stuck in my head ever since.
setlist.fm is a delightful resource for concerts. It’s also sometimes very wrong, but this looks pretty accurate to me. I added the album titles for my own interest.
Devils Haircut [Odelay]
Black Tambourine [Guero]
The New Pollution [Odelay]
Qué Onda Güero [Guero]
Think I’m in Love [The Information]
Mixed Bizness [Midnite Vultures]
Timebomb [Timebomb single]
Soul of a Man [Modern Guilt]
Go It Alone [Guero]
Paper Tiger [Sea Change]
Lost Cause [Sea Change]
Blackbird Chain [Morning Phase]
Heart is a Drum [Morning Phase]
Blue Moon [Morning Phase]
Loser [Mellow Gold]
Sexx Laws [Midnite Vultures]
Where It’s At [Odelay]
Debra [Midnite Vultures]
One Foot in the Grave [One Foot in the Grave]
He opened with five straight songs I knew before starting to get into the stuff that was less familiar to me. Not that this mattered – this was a fantastic show from start to finish. Beck has great energy and his band was killer. For the songs I knew, he blew away the album versions. And all the ones that were new(ish) to me were great too. I love those shows where I leave as a bigger fan than when I came in. This one gave me new appreciation for everything I already liked and made me want to seek out everything of his that I didn’t already know.
Though it lists three songs for the encore, they really all blended into each other, ending with more of Where It’s At and also encompassing Beck’s introductions of his band. Most of the musicians had a chance to solo – the drummer started his with the good part from In the Air Tonight, always appropriate and appreciated.
This was Beck’s first time in Saskatoon and he seemed genuinely surprised by how loved he was. When he mentioned he’d never played there before, people cheered and it seemed like they weren’t about to stop. Later on, he messed up the words to one of his newer songs because “I’ve never heard people clap along to that one before.” Everyone sang along wherever they could, the “na na, na na na, na naaaa” parts of E-Pro and – of course – the chorus of Loser being especially popular. People stood for the whole show. We tried staying seated, since we had pretty much the best view in the house already and didn’t feel the need to hinder the folks behind us, but one dude to Mika’s left was really into dancing into her way so I wound up politely shoving him aside and we stood for the second half of the show. I didn’t mind at all.
It wasn’t that short a show but still felt like it was over too soon, and then we were back on the road. We got home around 2:00 a.m. and – if you can believe it – even had to stay off the internet until the next afternoon, when we’d caught up on TV we missed. A crushing sacrifice but well worth it.
• kd lang w/Kacy & Clayton (August 26)
• Guns N’ Roses w/Our Lady Peace (August 27)
• The Sadies (September 14)
• BA Johnston (September 15)
• Steve Earle & The Dukes (September 27)
• The New Pornographers w/Born Ruffians (October 6)
• Whitehorse w/Terra Lightfoot (October 13)
• Sarah Slean (October 14)
• Martha Wainwright (October 22)
• David Myles w/Port Cities (October 24)
• Headstones w/SNAKEandtheCHAIN (November 17)
• Cold Specks (November 24)
• Tanya Tagaq & the Regina Symphony Orchestra (November 25)
I feel like I’ve told my history with the Crash Test Dummies a million times. But it’s been seven years since I’ve seen them – really, seven years since they’ve played together – so the super short version is I was a big fan back in the day and somehow wound up running their website for a few years. They’re good people. We’re still friends to this day, if you’re really generous with how you define “friends.” I mean, most of them would remember who I am. Maybe.
The last time I saw them in concert was two shows in 2010. In Regina, the vocalists – Brad Roberts and Ellen Reid – were joined by guitarist Murray Pulver. The next night in Winnipeg, they were joined by bassist Dan Roberts (Brad’s brother) and drummer Mitch Dorge, playing together for the first time in years. Since then, I know Brad and Ellen have each done a few solo shows – and maybe a few gigs together? I’m not sure. Point being, they don’t play together a lot anymore. So I was pretty surprised when Ellen let me know about the reunion gig – with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, no less.
This show was part of the Jeux de Canada Games – I need to use the full bilingual title if I want to keep getting my federal grant for writing these things. There were 11 nights of free concerts, one for each province (the territories had to share a night), each with the kind of lineup you might see at our local Folk Festival. The Canada Games were in Saskatoon when I was 14 or so, and while I wasn’t a concert-goer back then, I certainly don’t remember anything like this. For a brief moment, I was sad I didn’t live in Winnipeg. That feeling soon passed – Winnipeg might be my least-favourite city – but I enjoyed it for its novelty.
For those wondering, the Saskatchewan night was hosted by speed skater Catriona LeMay Doan and headlined by Buffy Sainte-Marie and – of course – The Sheepdogs. Always the Sheepdogs.
On the morning of the show, I got up like I was going to work – 5:20 am because I hate myself – and was on the road by 7:00. It’s a six-hour drive to Winnipeg and it flew buy surprisingly quickly. I credit the podcast Reply All. Once in town, I found my way to Kristin’s apartment and we spent an hour trying to convince her cat Beatrix to pay attention to me. This was pleasant if largely unsuccessful. Eventually, we gave up on this futile endeavour and went to check into my hotel. The hotel was close to the concert, had ample parking, was clean enough, and the people were nice. A success by my low standards.
At this point, it was around 4:30 and we were a short walk to the festival grounds. And as fate would have it, there was a Zapdos raid on the way. Now, if you aren’t a Pokémon GO player, then you don’t need to know about the phenomena of raid battles and legendary Pokémon. This puts you in the same boat as Kristin. I, meanwhile, was thrilled to get in on a Zapdos raid so quickly after its launch and even more thrilled to catch the thing on my first try, all while trying to explain to Kristin what was going on and why dozens of Pokémon players had suddenly converged on one spot.
Once in the park, we took a walk to orient ourselves, by which I mean I quickly lead us out of the park on the (successful) hunt for a second Zapdos. Finally, we found a patch of grass in the shade near the Indigenous arts market and settled in to listen to William Prince and Sierra Noble. I’ve seen Prince before and I really enjoy his songs. This was no exception, though I did wonder why it was billed as William Prince and Sierra Noble when it was really William Prince with a fiddle player and occasional back-up singer. At any rate, this was nice. Then the Royal Winnipeg Ballet came out and did some Irish step dancing. The men were wearing these velour bodysuits that made them look naked and also probably cooked them alive. Does velour retain odours?
When the Ballet was done, we wandered off in search of food. There were a wide range of food trucks by one end of the park, and we settled on the grilled cheese truck. As we waited for our food, we ran into some of Kristin’s friends, one of whom gave me one of the better high-fives I’ve had in some time. My grilled cheese had ham and pineapple; Kristin’s had spinach and red peppers. Most of you would prefer hers and most of you are wrong.
We found a spot on the hill to sit – this was trickier than you might think because it was really starting to get crowded – where we could eat our dinner and listen to the New Meanies. I’d never heard them before but certainly knew of the name – it seemed like they were playing in Saskatoon all the time when I was in university. “The New Meanies are still a thing?!” Mika said, when I told her who was playing. To be honest, I don’t know if they are or aren’t, and probably lots of people said “Crash Test Dummies are still a thing?!” too. Anyway, as far as the New Meanies went, I dug the music. The vocals, though… the lead singer was fine but whenever there was an attempt at harmonies, they were pretty bad. I thought they got better a few songs in but Kristin pointed out that they just weren’t trying harmonies for those songs.
As the hill filled up, it got to a point where it was hard for me to shift to a new position without nearly kicking someone, so we got up and wandered around. The park was full of people, so we threw some elbows to get through the crowd and I bought myself a bottled water and a Diet Coke from the food truck with the shortest line. At the very back of the park, we found some picnic tables and sat at one – and after lots of time on the ground, the picnic table made for some good sitting. We enjoyed it until a wasp showed up, trying to eat some crumbs on the table. I brushed the crumbs onto the ground but the wasp came back looking for it, and then brought reinforcements. It was actually pretty funny – it was like you could hear the first one saying “Seriously, it was right here, help me look for it.” But they’re also stinging angry shitheads, so we wandered back to the stage.
Royal Canoe was playing and I really only have two things to say about Royal Canoe: we mostly didn’t listen to Royal Canoe, and from what I did hear, Royal Canoe might not be my thing. So it goes.
We were getting close to the Crash Test Dummies and it was time to find ourselves a good spot. The standing area in front of the stage was packed for Royal Canoe, and we had high hopes that people would leave in between sets and we could move up. And… this worked? Royal Canoe finished up, and people headed out for drinks and whatnot before the Dummies started. We inched our way to the front, swimming upstream, and wound up only two or three rows of people back, stage left. A great spot.
And then the emcee told us that lightning had been spotted on the radar, and that if it came closer, we should evacuate calmly.
This was pretty much my worst-case scenario. Everything gets called off, but late enough that I’m out all the expenses. And in Winnipeg. But until that happened, they were going to push forward. There’s nothing to worry about until there’s something to worry about, I guess. The stagehands worked at setting up the stage for the Dummies and the orchestra, while we were entertained by a DJ with a wonderful prairie name, DJ Co-op. He kind of looked like Mark Cuban, if Cuban made every decision in his life differently. At one point, he played a Weakerthans song that he mixed with pow wow music and a dubstep beat. It was a thing.
Finally, the Dummies and the orchestra took the stage. No lightning. Never even a hint of it. They launched into God Shuffled His Feet and began what was mostly a greatest hits set (with three songs from their newest album, which is itself now seven years old).
The last time I saw them, about half the show was Brad, Ellen, and Murray, and half also included Dan and Mitch. This time, the whole band played on everything, and the symphony played on about half the songs. The arrangements were nice but not drastic changes – it felt very much the band playing with the orchestra as accompaniment, as opposed to when I’ve seen Ben Folds with the Edmonton Symphony, where everything is reworked with the orchestra in mind.
I took note of the setlist. If you’re not Canadian, you’ll only know one of these. If you are Canadian, and of a certain age, you might recognize around half:
God Shuffled His Feet
The Ghosts That Haunt Me
Swimming in Your Ocean
Put a Face
The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead
In the Days of the Caveman
Keep a Lid on Things
Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm
Heart of Stone
Encore: Afternoons & Coffeespoons
Not the longest set, but I knew that going in – it was a festival show with start and end times pre-defined. But it was fantastic – the band looked and sounded as good as ever, and they all seemed to be having a great time. Brad, in particular, seemed more genuinely appreciative for the warm reception than I’d seen before.
And they should have been having fun. I mean, I get that this is a weird band for someone to be into, especially in 2017. They’re a one-hit wonder in the US. Even in Canada, they haven’t had a hit song since 1999. But for one more night, they were hometown heroes, playing to a packed crowd of thousands who were excited to be there and sang along with all the hits. I’ve seen the band four times before, but never with an atmosphere like this. I thought this would be a fun concert but it wound up challenging July Talk for my fake-yet-coveted Show Of The Year award.
The band wrapped up, and we hung around the front of the stage for a bit while the crowd thinned out. This process was helped along by fireworks starting the second the concert ended – and they were strategically placed so that you couldn’t really see them with the stage in the way. A unique and clever way to get people to clear out in a hurry. As we waited, Murray Pulver came out to talk to some folks and gave me a big hug when he saw me. We chatted for a little bit and he said I should stick around to talk to everyone else, but I didn’t figure they’d be coming out. And they didn’t, at least not before the security guards started clearing the area of us weirdos who weren’t immediately drawn to the fireworks.
With that, we walked back to the car, past groups of people having the most fascinating conversations. There were inside jokes, dating stories, lyric analysis, all kinds of things. I dropped Kristin off at her place, and became very thankful for the GPS on the drive back to the hotel. I don’t have a good internal compass at the best of times, but without that GPS, I think I’d still be lost in Winnipeg. Or maybe somewhere in Ontario by now. Everything the GPS told me to do was against my instincts and it took me right back to the hotel.
You never know what the future will bring. There’s always a market for nostalgia, but everyone in the band has moved on to post-Dummies activities and I imagine it would be difficult to coordinate future gigs. This show only happened as part of a special event in their hometown. They may never do another show, or they might go on a 25th (ugh, christ) anniversary tour of God Shuffled His Feet next year. Who knows? But if they never play together again, this was an almost perfect way to go out.
I say “almost perfect” because during Afternoons & Coffeespoons, my favourite Dummies song, they got to the part where the harmonica solo should be, and it just wasn’t there. I knew it wouldn’t be a full reunion without Benjamin Darvill, but in that moment, he was especially missed. I don’t know if he chose not to come to this, or if he was ever even asked. Either way, I can’t see him ever playing with them again. I know he’s off doing his own thing, and it’s very different and I really dig it, but still. You know?
• Beck w/McRorie (August 20)
• kd lang w/Kacy & Clayton (August 26)
• Guns N’ Roses w/Our Lady Peace (August 27)
• The Sadies (September 14)
• BA Johnston (September 15)
• Steve Earle & The Dukes (September 27)
• The New Pornographers w/Born Ruffians (October 6)
• Whitehorse w/Terra Lightfoot (October 13)
• Sarah Slean (October 14)
• Martha Wainwright (October 22)
• David Myles (October 24)
• Headstones w/SNAKEandtheCHAIN (November 17)
• Tanya Tagaq & the Regina Symphony Orchestra (November 25)
When I wrote the big long recap of the Jazz Festival (and, like, a million other things), my intent was to group a bunch of shows together so that I could keep each section relatively short. And I failed miserably. So I can see why you might be leery now. So if you don’t read any of the rest of this, just know that July Talk is now in the lead for Show of the Year in my non-existent year-end awards. So good.
But you should probably read the rest of this because it’s mostly about disgusting delicious fair foods. And I promise I will not start three straight sentences with “so” again in this. (But six straight sentences starting with conjunctions, on the other hand…)
The Queen City Ex is our local fair. Rides, contests, garbage food, bands, you know the deal. Despite what the title above might indicate, it runs for five days. We only went for two, cherry-picking solid lineups for our visits: July Talk with The Zolas on Thursday, and a double-bill of The Watchmen and I Mother Earth on Friday. This left us skipping (in order) Gord Bamford with Nice Horse, Ruth B with Christian Hudson, and Brett Kissel with hypnotist Wayne Lee and why is a hypnotist opening for a country singer? Too late to find out now even if I wanted to. And I don’t really want to.
Thursday was not only our first day at the fair, but it was also Mika’s birthday. I took her to a place with next to no gluten-free options and she got to watch me eat stuff she would have enjoyed, and then we saw a band I really like. Don’t ever say that I don’t know how to treat my wife on her special day.
As we both had to work on Thursday, we got to the fair fairly (oh man that’s some good comedy) late. We strolled around and pondered our food options while searching for the Great Western Stage, which was not where we remembered it. After making our way from one end of the Ex to the other, we checked our little map to discover that they’d moved it into the Brandt Centre. Seating! Air conditioning! No chance of getting rained out (as happened to the July Talk show at the Edmonton fair)! This was a pretty decent deal. And I suppose it makes sense – during our last fair visit two years ago, you didn’t have to deal with the giant new stadium on the fairgrounds.
The Thursday night openers were The Zolas and we got there just in time for them to begin. I knew one song, Swooner, but the rest of their stuff was new to me. Mika, however, was surprised to discover how many of their songs she’d heard – I gather they’re CBC Radio 3 favourites. Pop-rock, heavy on the keyboards and made me feel like I might be just a bit too old to really get into them, though the singer gained some bonus points by getting everyone to clap along to a song and then saying “now keep doing that until it’s awkward.” I mean, that’s what we do, but I’d never heard it spelled out so plainly before. These guys were fun enough, though they were probably my least-favourite set of the two nights. But that shouldn’t be taken as a knock – they were just up against some stiff competition.
Between sets, we headed back out onto the midway in an attempt to give ourselves coronaries. We were both saddened to discover that the nacho truck from our last fair visit was nowhere to be found. Tasty warm homemade chips with fresh toppings, right by the entrance to the Great Western Stage. You were too beautiful to live, nacho truck. Mika eventually found a place that made fries and didn’t fry anything else, so she could eat them. And they were good, but they’re not as ridiculous as you want from the fair, you know?
However, as mentioned, I had my pick of absolute crap. Last time, I started with a corndog and realized that I don’t like corn dogs as much as I think I do. This time, I went back for the corndogs, but with a twist – they stuck a dill pickle in there too. The perfect solution. I also got something called “bacon pickle balls” but they turned out to be just smaller pickle corn dogs that had an infinitesimal amount of bacon in there somewhere. Still good.
We made our way back to the Brandt Centre for July Talk. I first heard of them when the AV Club had the premiere of their video for Summer Dress, and – for reasons unknown to me – I actually bothered to watch the thing instead of skipping it like I do most web videos. (Sorry, people who ever send me links to anything.) I really dug it, which is not something I say about new bands these days because I am a miserable old fart who is set in his ways. And then I liked their album. And then their new album. So I was looking forward to this, was my point.
We’d sat in the stands for The Zolas, but moved down to the floor for July Talk, passing Mark and Arlette on the way down. The crowd for The Zolas was pretty respectable, but it had to be at least double that for July Talk. Sometimes good things become popular and that is rad!
The band took the stage and started by welcoming “ladies, gentlemen, trans, non-binary and genderfluid folk” before acknowledging that we were on Treaty 4 land. And then they blew the roof off the place. They played Summer Dress two songs in and I thought that would be the highlight for me but then it just kept getting better. Ridiculous levels of energy all night long. Two very different singers, with Leah Fay’s sultry vocals providing a sharp contrast to Peter Dreimanis’ guttural rasp. Great, catchy songs. Great musicians. Charismatic performers. This was the kind of show that made me want to tell everyone I know that they should have been there. I did text that to some of you. Not sorry.
At one point, Fay walked out into the crowd and asked everyone on the floor to sit down, and they all just did it. (I mean, WE didn’t, that floor is kinda nasty – but we were also far enough back so as to remain somewhat inconspicuous.) And then she rode back to the stage on a fan’s shoulders. She asked his name and he was the most excited Bob you ever did hear.
And then the encore. A fan threw something onto the stage. I couldn’t see what, but I assumed it was a stuffed animal, since we’re at the fair and all (even though most of the prizes were either Pokémon plushies or fidget spinners as far as I could tell). But no. Fay picked it up and said “If there’s one thing I’ve learned about being in a band, you never give the people what they want right away. But I like you.” And she put on a rubber horse mask. And Fay and Dreimanis did a song together – the only one all night with just the two of them – with her in this horse mask. I use the word “ridiculous” a lot, and this was, but it is just as true to say it was amazing. Then Horse Fan (she had a name but that is not relevant right now) got to come up on stage and dance with the band for the last song. In the horse mask.
This ruled. This all ruled. The horse mask was just the icing on the cake. Horse icing. It cost $37 to get into the fair (two adults at $15 each, plus one car at $7) and I would have paid more than that for one ticket to July Talk and it would have been a deal. Go see them.
We ran into Mark and Arlette again on the way out – by which I mean I saw them leaving and chased after them – and we got to chat for a bit. Then with the show over, we set out to make some more bad decisions. Mika got a lemonade (again, tame by fair standards) while I went for the more ridiculous deep fried cookie dough. It was pretty good. Then I packed up my regrets and we went home, ready to do it all over again the next day.
Sometimes people ask me “how’s work?” and all you need to know is that on Thursday before the concert, I went from “I can come in this weekend” to “I’m taking tomorrow off because everything’s so broken that I can’t do anything” in the span of about 15 minutes. So I had Friday off, which was nice and restful. It let me prepare myself for another day of punishing my eardrums and my stomach.
Speaking of which, on Thursday, we discovered that one of the BBQ places was selling corn on the cob coated in Flammin’ [sic] Hot Cheetos dust. We reported this to Jeff and he had a day to build this up in his mind. By the time we got to the fair on Friday, he was already there, had already eaten the Flammin’ Hot Cheetos corn, and reported that it lived up to his imagination. Mika tried to have some too, but they misheard her order and gave her regular corn instead. She also got some blue slushie drink. Again, good but not fair-worthy craziness.
I, on the other hand, took my time to find the ideal monstrosity for dinner, and found the perfect combination of ridiculous and a short line – the bacon-wrapped foot-long hot dog topped with macaroni and cheese. With the optional fried onions, for… vitamins. Or fiber or something. Antioxidants? This was as delicious as it was challenging to eat. I wound up with mac and cheese on my nose and my hat. Not surprised. Didn’t care. Worth it.
We made our way to the Brandt Centre for the Watchmen, stopping to sample some apple whiskey on the way in. Not bad.
This was the only night where the two bands were given equal billing, though in essence, the Watchmen were opening. We debated whether the Watchmen or I Mother Earth should have gone on last, with Jeff firmly on the side of the Watchmen. I wasn’t sold on this. I mean, I know way more Watchmen songs than I Mother Earth songs, and having seen both bands recently, I liked the Watchmen better, but I figured that was just me. I Mother Earth just seem like the bigger band to me. And I was way wrong. There were tons of people in there for the Watchmen, on par with the crowd for July Talk. They opened with Boneyard Tree and closed with Stereo – in between, you got most of the singles you’d want (Incarnate, Any Day Now, All Uncovered, Absolutely Anytime and more) with some interesting covers, including The Only Living Boy in New York by Simon and Garfunkel and part of Superman by R.E.M.. This was a great set.
I’m writing this weeks after the fact. I think we got dessert between Watchmen and I Mother Earth, but I could be wrong. Maybe it was before? Who cares, if I’m wrong, only two people will know and they can write their own reviews if they’re so concerned about historical accuracy. Either way, I had red velvet mini donuts and Jeff got an Oreo churro. The mini donut people got my donuts from somewhere behind their stand. I don’t know where or why. I didn’t really want to know.
Having seen I Mother Earth last year, I realized that I only know one of their songs and also I only have so much interest in guitar solos. This show didn’t really change my opinion. That song was good! And the guitar solos were well done and all, but I can only care to a degree. I called this set “very good but not entirely my thing.” And I love this format of cramming tons of shows into one review because I can stop there, but I do need to mention that the crowd for I Mother Earth was shockingly smaller than it was for the Watchmen. At one point near the end of the set, I turned around and realized how bad it would look if they turned up the lights. They had maaaaaaybe half the crowd that the Watchmen did.
As soon I Mother Earth was over, Mika went to the bathroom and Jeff left, which was a real shame. The leaving part, I mean, not the bathroom part. Because if Jeff had left the arena with us, he’d have been treated to one lady’s rant about people bringing their fuckin’ kids to loud concerts and it’s not good for their hearing and you should get a fuckin’ babysitter or else just suck it the fuck up and don’t come – made all the better when I realized that some guy and his kids were 10 feet behind us. Then I got a caramel apple because I never learn anything.
My last post here was on July 16, when I mentioned I would be taking a break from writing here (though I’m trying to still read and comment on your blogs). That was only two weeks ago, I know, but I thought I’d round up July… and it turns out not much has happened. Well, life has happened, we’ve been running four nights a week to various kids events (soccer [football, for our UK Readers], swim, etc), and working, of course. We got to the beach, that was nice. I had a birthday, for which I was surprised with a visit from friends and family (which I loved). I also got an Amazon gift card, which I’ve spent a million times already without actually hitting Place Order haha. One day I’ll actually order stuff, but right now it’s too much fun window shopping. Oh, and I got the Rolling Stones DVD of Olé Olé Olé: A Trip Across Latin America, which is the companion/run-up to the Havana Moon DVD I got a while back. I do love me some Stones.
One day, recently, my iTunes coughed up an amazing playlist. I hit Random on my entire collection [50,800 items, 140.7 days, 191.39GB] and this is what I got:
Izzy Stradlin – Shuffle It All
Hawksley Workman – Remember Our Wars
Guided By Voices – My Zodiac Companion
Blue Rodeo – Two Tongues
Robert Pollard – Into It
Jane’s Addiction – Strays
Pearl Jam – The Fixer
Wilco – Jesus, Etc.
Nightwatchman – The Lights Are On In Spidertown
Brent Hinds – Highwaters
Goober Patrol – Part Time SF Ecologist
Stone Sour – Your God
John Lee Hooker – The Motor City Is Burning
Accept – Teutonic Terror
Hope Blister – Sweet Unknown
Delta 72 – I Feel Fine
Stevie Ray Vaughan – Wall Of Denial
Marillion – Hope For The Future
Vandals – Moving Up
Girls Vs. Boys – Kill The Sexplayer
Me First And The Gimme Gimmes – Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me
Rick White – I Don’t See You
Eric Clapton – Lead Me On
Red Hot Chili Peppers – This Velvet Glove
Queensryche – Breaking The Silence
Watchmen – Anything But That
Ozzy Osbourne – Spiders
Heavy Trash – She Baby
Danny Michel – Feather, Fur & Fin
Dio – Hungry For Heaven
Live – Dance With You
It was a little disjointed in places, mix-wise (John Lee Hooker into Accept? Sure!), but overall a super-cool collection of tunes.
Otherwise… We’re booked to go to Taranna for a couple of days in September, near our wedding anniversary, so my lovely wife can go to a work-related conference on the brain. Me, I’m gonna look for records, of course. I’ll have two whole days in the downtown, free to do as I please while she’s in conference, and then we’ll have evenings together to go wherever she wants to go. That’s gonna be awesome.
And that’s about it. I may do a round up of August, in early September. Right now I don’t forsee any new reviews or content from me for the next month. That could change, but I doubt it. This break is good on many levels.
Hope you’re having a great summer. Stay cool.
This was a show that almost didn’t happen. I mean, for me. Which is essentially the same as it not happening at all, right? I mean, you likely weren’t there either. I didn’t see you there, anyway. If Bob Dylan performs a concert and several thousand people see it but they aren’t you or me, did it really happen?
This review also nearly didn’t happen because I’ve spent all of my computer time downloading wrestlers for Fire Pro Wrestling Returns, but that’s an understandable thing. You all know what it’s like when people are waiting for you to talk about concert-adjacent nonsense and you’re torn, trying to decide which Brutus Beefcake is the right Brutus Beefcake for you.
But yeah. I saw Dylan once before, back in 2002. While I enjoyed that show, I wasn’t sure that I needed to see him again. I’ve passed up his concerts here in town before, in fact. But Bob’s getting up there – coincidentally, we’re both 15 years older now – and I do like the guy, so as this show drew closer, it started to feel more and more like something I’d like to see. A week out, I checked tickets and I was able to get fifth row, dead centre. I don’t know if I just got lucky or if they repriced some unsold tickets from premium tiers. Either way, good deal for me.
Before I bought my ticket, I texted Mika to see if she wanted to come along. She said she didn’t but would go if I wanted the company. And I love her company, but I didn’t feel like paying an extra $100 to drag her to something that she wouldn’t enjoy. I told her this and she sent me the saddest gif of a crying cartoon rabbit.
Fun fact: you can tell how work is going by how many concert tickets I buy. When work is dead, I get bored and browse the internet and buy concert tickets. When work is crazy, I decide I need to treat myself. There’s a sweet spot in between where I’m busy but not TOO busy where I shop a lot less. That’s as stupid as it is true.
After Mika and I had dinner, I headed out to Moose Jaw, bravely battling my own dumb tendency to show up several hours early. I timed things well and got there with ten minutes to spare. Fine work, me. I picked up my ticket at the Will Call window and walked in past dozens of signs warning us to not record anything or take pictures of anything or use our phones at all. I had to show my ticket to get to my floor seat and got this spiel directly from one of the ushers, who asked me to just turn my phone all the way off entirely. I did not do this. But I also didn’t record anything or take any pictures; it’s 2017 and all but if someone cares that much, whatever. Instagram will survive without my blurry snaps and we all know what Bob Dylan looks like anyway.
My seat was great, apart from its proximity to the rest of them. Whoever laid out the floor seats at Mosaic Place once sat in the middle seat on an airplane, loved it, and wanted to share his joy with others. I’d like him to contract dick cancer.
A nice thing about Dylan’s obsessive fan base is that within minutes of the show ending, a complete setlist was up on the internet:
Things Have Changed
Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
Highway 61 Revisited
Why Try to Change Me Now (Cy Coleman cover)
Make You Feel My Love
Melancholy Mood (Frank Sinatra cover)
Stormy Weather (Harold Arlen cover)
Pay in Blood
Once Upon a Time (Tony Bennett cover)
Tangled Up in Blue
Early Roman Kings
Soon After Midnight
That Old Black Magic (Johnny Mercer cover)
Long and Wasted Years
Autumn Leaves (Yves Montand cover)
Blowin’ in the Wind
Ballad of a Thin Man
A solid lineup of tunes, though a relatively short night – done in just over 90 minutes – and from looking online, it looks like he’s playing mostly the same show every night. I can see where this would be disappointing to some people; part of the appeal of going to multiple shows on the same tour was that you never knew how he’d mix things up, or when he’d play some song for the first time since 1974 because he felt like it.
So I said earlier that “I wasn’t sure that I needed to see him again.” And this show got a bad review in the local paper, much to the delight of my Dylan-hating father. And the two people sitting to my left took off about five songs in, with one person (who didn’t seem to care much in the first place) saying to the other, “yeah, I can see why you’d be disappointed if it wasn’t what you were expecting.” I’m sorry they had a bad time but I enjoyed their shoulder room and butt room.
The thing is, Bob Dylan is Bob Dylan and a Bob Dylan concert is its own thing. The ticket said the show was going to start at 8:00 and it did, right down to the second. Last time I saw Dylan, the only words he said to the audience all night were “Ladies and gentlemen, here’s my band!” This time, not even that. He sang and we may as well have not been there. Bob Dylan isn’t real interested in you and you’re okay with that or you’re not. Some of the arrangements were very different from the recordings, to the point that it took quite a while to recognize some songs, even familiar ones. And his voice – you might love it, you might hate it (this seems to be much more likely, outside of a small but vocal group of my internet pals), but it is what it is. It may have become rougher over the years, but I can’t see where you’d have liked it 20 years ago and hated it now.
I guess I’m saying it all comes down to your expectations. I got pretty much exactly the show I thought I’d get and I liked it a lot. I can see why someone else might not, though. Which makes them wrong. But that’s okay.
Can we at least all agree that the band was really good? And Dylan spent much of the time playing piano and he seemed really into that. I even saw him smiling a few times, which was weird and didn’t fit with my mental image of him. No wonder we weren’t allowed to take pictures.
• July Talk (August 3)
• I Mother Earth and The Watchmen (August 4)
• Crash Test Dummies & the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (August 7)
• Beck (August 20)
• kd lang w/Kacy & Clayton (August 26)
• Guns N’ Roses w/Our Lady Peace (August 27)
• The Sadies (September 14)
• Steve Earle & The Dukes (September 27)
• The New Pornographers w/Born Ruffians (October 6)
• Whitehorse w/Terra Lightfoot (October 13)
• Sarah Slean (October 14)
• Martha Wainwright (October 22)
• David Myles (October 24)
• Tanya Tagaq & the Regina Symphony Orchestra (November 25)
Our neighbour Don passed away in the wee hours of Friday night. Sure, he was pushing 90 years old, and his body was riddled with cancer (among other health issues), but it doesn’t make it suck any less.
We moved into this house four years ago, and our neighbours adopted us – as older couples whose own kids live far away will do when a younger family moves onto the street. We went back and forth, they made a fuss over the kids, they’d watch our cat while we were on holidays, I’d always clear their lane of snow every winter… and then we’d have play fights over whether or not they should pay me for doing the work (I always won, because of course they should never pay me for that. I love being outside in the winter, so they’re doing me a favour). Months ago, Don gave me a bottle of whiskey. His chemo wouldn’t allow him to drink it, and he wanted me to have it. I haven’t opened it, and I doubt I will. Well, maybe some day.
Anyway, it’s a tough time for the family and the neighbourhood, even though we all knew it was coming. It was a long, slow decline for him, hard to watch. And it’s only adding to my own little reorganization here. You’ve maybe noticed I haven’t posted much in the last little while. A wee bit ago, I’d texted James to say I was thinking of taking the summer off from blogging. I was running out of steam. I’d just started that All The Everything series and it is (admittedly) very daunting. You’d just have to see the Man Cave’s contents to think I was nuts for even starting. James’ perfect response was “meh, just post when you want.” Good advice, as it is what he does in these pages.
I turn 43 years old in a couple of weeks (I am quickly coming to the end of my year of being the answer to life, the Universe and everything), and I was reflecting back on having done this blog for nigh on eleven years. It’s a labour of love and fun and great tunes and experiences and the building up of an awesome community and it’s cool. But for now I’ll read all your posts (likely at the weekends over coffee, mostly). I’ll rest for a bit, focus elsewhere… jam tunes for the sake of pleasure, not for how I’ll write about them. Chase the kids (and my lovely wife), do some work on the house, create, breathe… I’ve done this before, and I know I’ve said hiatuses are for chumps (they are), but here I am.
R.I.P. Don. The last few months were a true struggle of pain and worry, but hopefully now he can have some peace. And I’ll still be here, moreso as a Reader, for now. Some day, surely, I’ll be filling these pages with gibbering once again. Until then, see you in the Comments.
For all the concerts I go to, it’s a little ridiculous that it took me 31 years to finally attend the SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival. I suppose it makes sense if you figure that aside from knowing that jazz plus jazz equals jazz, I don’t know what the jazz is all about. But much the same way that our Folk Festival includes rock, country, hip-hop, and much more, the Jazz Festival is really just a jazz festival in name only.
The initial draw for me was the chance to see Son of Dave for the first time in 17 years. I saw him on his first solo tour on April 18, 2000, and haven’t made it to a show since. He lives in the UK now and doesn’t tour Canada much, though he does occasional gigs in Winnipeg (where he’s from) and I’ve had tickets to those shows on at least two occasions, but work or something always got in the way.
And then – THEN – Hawksley Workman retweets some rando saying he can’t wait for Hawksley’s show at the Jazz Festival. I’m not sure if Hawksley was a late addition or if I’m just slipping in my old age, but I missed his name on the lineup page. I excitedly check the schedule… and he’s playing on the same Saturday night as Son of Dave. I curse the fates. But wait! Hawksley is on from 8:00 to 9:30. Son of Dave starts at 10:30! I LOVE the fates. The fates are awesome. Heck yeah, fates, you’re okay by me.
I had tickets to Serena Ryder in Regina for Sunday night, so I had to head home early, but I checked the rest of the schedule to see who was playing on the Friday night, and Amanda Marshall was headlining the main stage. I hadn’t heard any Amanda Marshall songs in years, but I was immediately intrigued. I don’t know if her name will ring a bell for any non-Canadians reading this, but Marshall was HUGE in Canada for a little under a decade. Her first album came out in 1995 and was basically all hits, and her third (and thus far, last) was released in 2001. After that, she basically disappeared. And I don’t mean “got less popular,” I mean she vanished. No new music, no tours, no online presence. Wikipedia makes vague reference to legal issues that started when she fired her management team in the early 2000s, but whatever the cause, it was kind of remarkable for someone that famous to disappear so thoroughly. I mean, I know Alanis Morissette isn’t as big a star now as she was 20 years ago, but I’m sure she has a website, right?
Over time, Marshall eventually resurfaced for infrequent performances, but even now, there’s very little to indicate that she’s actively working. Her Wikipedia page notes a radio interview where she said she hoped to have a new CD out in 2013. It hasn’t arrived yet. I decided that I had to go see this show because how often is this opportunity going to come around again? And besides, I’d never seen her before.
Or hadn’t I? I drove to Saskatoon early Friday morning, stopping only for a quick visit with my pal Garth before skipping town. Garth is my chiropractor, and about a week before, Mika said “you haven’t had any problems with your back in a long time,” so you know I was doomed. But really, it wasn’t so bad – just kind of stiff feeling – and Garth loosened me up. Plus, when I listed off who I was going to see at the Jazz Festival, he was oddly excited for Hawksley Workman. That was as delightful as it was unexpected.
I got sidetracked, so let me try this again. Or hadn’t I? On the drive in to town, Deserée texted to ask if we’d seen Amanda Marshall years ago. I had been sure all along that I hadn’t, but I immediately started second-guessing myself. Some research showed that she played Saskatoon on June 23, 1999 – or exactly 18 years to the day before the Jazz Festival show. Thanks to these old reviews, I know I wasn’t there, but by remembering how Marshall moved around on stage, it’s safe to say Dez was.
After lunch with Dave, I drove around Saskatoon, hitting record stores, buying nothing, and marveling at how much has changed. I don’t come to town much anymore and 8th Street and Midtown Plaza are both nearly unrecognizable.
I made my way to Josy and Anna’s house, where I’d be spending the weekend. With a little time before the weekend of music would begin in earnest, Josy and I set out on a Pokémon GO walk, since we’re the only people left still playing it. The River Landing area of Saskatoon is new since I lived there and it’s quite nice, if currently buggy.
Back to the house and their son wanted me to read him a book. He brought over The Book of Facts, which doesn’t exactly have a lot of story to it, but that’s not the point. One time he wanted me to read him a story. I told him that I couldn’t read and I made up a story based on pictures (after first claiming to believe that his book was a Domino’s Pizza ad) and now that’s just a thing we do. He doesn’t really believe that I’m illiterate anymore but I still keep kayfabe, so to show him that my reading had improved, I had to get something close to right. That’s how The Book of Facts became The Big Book of Farts. From there, I didn’t really need to do much – he ran with the premise (the premise being “farts”) and I just kind of supervised.
Eventually, it was time to pick Deserée up and head downtown for Amanda Marshall. We knew the show was sold out and that seating would be at a premium, so with an 8:00pm start time, we figured that we’d need to be there by 7:30.
hahahahahahaha we’re dumb, look at us, we’re really dumb
What followed was a series of events that I can’t say I didn’t anticipate, but the scope of them was far beyond me. First was parking. Downtown Saskatoon is notorious for not having a ton of parking at the best of times. Long before I moved away, I can remember six-block walks to go see a movie. And those movies weren’t in downtown parks that don’t normally host anything beyond vagrants and sparrows. The short version is that we tried to get a good spot, failed, then circled out wider and wider until we’d doubled back to a ridiculous degree. I feel like there’s a funnier way to say this but maybe “we parked far away” isn’t the anecdote gold it originally seemed.
With more time spent parking and a longer-than-expected walk to the park, we got there later than we wanted. Luckily, we had brought our nice lawn chairs with us so we could relax and enjoy the show. Unluckily, there was no place left to park a chair. This place was packed. I later learned that a sellout, for the Jazz Festival main stage, is 3,500 people. I don’t doubt this. And you could probably seat 3,500 people there given uncomfortably cramped arena seating. But when you let people bring their own reasonably sized chairs and space them a reasonable distance from each other, that space gets filled up pretty quickly.
Ultimately, we shoved a recycling bin to one side and put our chairs next to it. This put us behind the main walkway at the back of the park, which was far from ideal, but was as good as we were going to manage. It could have been worse; other people eventually came and sat behind us. Others showed up with chairs, saw the situation, and left.
“Why are we taking our chairs back to the car?” asked one mother.
“‘CUZ THERE’S NO PLACE TO PUT THEM” said her kid.
Now. I don’t know if this reads funny to you. Maybe you had to be there. Maybe you had to see – or more importantly, hear – these two folks. The mother sounded like she’d just woken up in a gutter. The son’s voice was 50% the squeaky-voiced teen from The Simpsons, 50% a literal demon. It was amazing. We did impressions of them all night long.
Our openers were Regina Folk Festival favourite blues-rockers The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer. As they were unarmed during this performance, I don’t know which was which. Also, I’m pretty sure there were at least four people on stage. I don’t know if the other two are killers too. Maybe The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer & The Climate Change Denier & The Guy Who Refuses To Vaccinate His Kids is too long to fit on the marquee?
I can’t really tell you much about this set because we were so far back, and people were using that walkway as a place to stand and watch the show, so we really couldn’t see anything. Even the big screens were mostly blocked from our view. All of these extracurriculars made it pretty hard for me to pay any attention. I will say that Dez and I were in agreement that they sounded good and we’d both like to see them again sometime under better conditions. Luckily for me, they seem to play Regina fairly regularly.
Okay. Up until now it had not been the best experience. If I ever come back to a mainstage show at the Jazz Festival, I’ll know that you have to be there waiting for the gates to open if you want a shot at seeing the show. I can’t even get mad at all the yahoos standing directly in front of us. It’s kind of a dick move, but we’re all just trying to see the show we paid for and there really isn’t enough space for the number of tickets they’d sold. I get that. Though I will take a certain joy in knowing that the one guy who stood in front of us forever went around all evening with his fly down. Enjoy the breeze, Mr. White Jeans.
For Amanda Marshall, I gave up on the chairs and went and stood with the other yahoos. If you can’t beat ’em until they fall over and get out of your way, join ’em.
I had joked, before the show, that I’d once thought Amanda Marshall had died. I know now that she is, in fact, still alive. The new theory I’m going with is that around 2002, she fell into a time portal. 2017 Amanda Marshall sounds the same and looks the same (and has the same hair, much to everyone’s delight) and this time portal theory makes a lot of sense to me – though I’m open to the possibility that she may be a robot. That would work too. Someone else suggested she’d been kept in cryogenic stasis for the past 15 years but that sounds pretty silly to me.
Anyway, I wasn’t at that Amanda Marshall show 18 years before, but I’d have to think this experience wasn’t all that different. Like I said, she hasn’t missed a step. This was very much a greatest hits show – there were only a handful of songs I didn’t recognize all night. It was a bit like Bryan Adams, where Mika and I thought “okay, we heard all the singles, what’s left but Cuts Like a Knife” and then he’d play hit after hit that we’d forgotten about. Except in this case we were waiting for Birmingham (though I bet she could kill Cuts Like a Knife if she really wanted to), which was the closer. The encore was Let It Rain. The only single we noticed missing was Everybody’s Got a Story, much to the dismay of the loud drunk dude behind us who yelled quite loudly for it.
Marshall came across like a really likeable person. She joked about her trademark giant hair and she joked about her absence (though never explained it), and seemed truly appreciative to get such a warm reception after so many years. And she was beloved – I read news stories about the show that talked to fans who flew in from Alberta and BC to see this. Though I don’t know that anyone loved her as much as that drunk guy.
Though it was funny – you know how you go see a band, and they play the first few notes of a big hit, and everyone recognizes it and cheers? Well, because Marshall has been out of the spotlight for so long, she’d start playing a song and when people recognized it, instead of cheering, you could hear 3,500 people all say “oh!” in unison. Like we’d all forgotten Fall From Grace was a thing and we all remembered it at once.
Despite less than ideal conditions – apart from the park being packed, it was also unseasonably chilly – this was a delightful show and you should go see Amanda Marshall if you get the chance. I mean, you likely won’t get the chance, but if she falls through the time portal somewhere near you, I recommend it.
Afterwards, we packed up our neglected chairs and made the long trek back to the car. I picked up some snacks, dropped Dez off at home, and got back to Josy’s house much later than anticipated. We had a little time to visit before I crashed out. I plugged my phone in, with a cord that was a little too short to be convenient (this will matter later), and briefly perused the internet before falling asleep. This seemed like such a good idea that I did it for most of the morning too – wake up, look at phone, pass out, repeat. This went on for so long that I didn’t get up until almost 11:00.
Eventually I staggered back into the land of the living. I made Josy make me burgers and we went to the University to look around and chase more Pokémon. This didn’t work out so well – my foot was killing me and the weather didn’t cooperate. We spent most of our time inside, avoiding a rainstorm. Eventually, we headed back to his place so I could turn around and go back out.
SLCR #283: Hawksley Workman (June 24, 2017)
See, my idea was to do the whole Jazz Festival as one review, like the Folk Festival, so I could keep each individual segment nice and short. And I suppose I should fess up: that didn’t happen. At all. This thing is huge. I’d have told you up front but you’d never have read this. Now you’re stuck here and you need to see how this ends. It’s brilliant, really.
After dealing with the crowds the night before, Dez and I had decided that we needed to get to the free stage nice and early for Hawksley. We also made plans to meet Jenn and Nicholas for Jamaican food beforehand. These two things combined resulted in us eating at “senior time,” as Nicholas aptly put it. But who among us hasn’t eaten Jamaican curry at 4:30 in the afternoon? And fantastic Jamaican curry at that.
We finished with dinner and headed out. The rain had left and it was delightfully hot and sunny. Three of us headed right to the park while Nicholas went home for a quick nap to recover from the afternoon’s Pride parade. I found a better parking spot this time, and we got a quality patch of lawn to plant our chairs, so that was very exciting. Or at least pleasant. Mostly pleasant.
The day’s free stage events were a cross-promotion between Saskatoon Pride and the Jazz Festival. I checked out the schedule and apart from headliner Hawksley, I didn’t recognize any names. We arrived in time to see most of Catey Shaw’s set – which at an hour, she said was the longest of her career – and we all really liked her. Fun singer-songwriter pop, and Shaw seemed very personable. I’ve since checked out more of her songs and maybe you should do the same?
Somewhere in here, Reagan showed up and Nicholas returned. I wandered away to get a drink, eventually settling on some ridiculously good fresh lemonade (and some kettle corn, because kettle corn). When returning to my chair, I had a moment of “where are we sitting again?” that was quickly alleviated because Nicholas was wearing a rainbow striped cowboy hat that matched his rainbow striped tank top and rainbow striped glitter beard. He was hard to miss, is what I’m saying. It’s hard to stand out at Pride but he managed quite well. He’d also offered to glitter up my beard (you use a glue stick and hairspray) (and glitter) (duh) and I was sorely tempted, but I didn’t think I could put Josy’s pillows through that.
There were some drag queens performing between Shaw and Hawksley and – I say this with the utmost respect to my wife and my family and my friends and I hope you understand where I’m coming from here – I can only hope that one day I will love anyone or anything as much as Nicholas loved these drag queens. It was amazing to see. And hear. Mostly to hear.
So, Hawksley. This was my 20th Hawksley show and by now, I know how this works. When he takes a full band on tour, he digs through his back catalogue and plays a whole bunch of weirdo songs that probably don’t do much for a lot of people but that I love. When he’s just playing one-off shows here and there, he has about 25 regular songs that he draws from. This was one of those shows. I’m not complaining – I thought this was great. Of course I would.
Plus there were some interesting twists in terms of the band that made this a unique show, at least in terms of the ones I’ve seen. I’ve seen Derrick Brady play bass for Hawksley many times, and I think Brad Kilpatrick on drums as well. Mr. Lonely’s absence was conspicuous and he was missed, though Hawksley filled in on keyboards, which I hadn’t seen before. And Jackie Mohr (of The Mohrs, a band I’ve totally heard of and know nothing about) was on guitar, which also presented the opportunity for female backing vocals on some songs that don’t normally have them. Or vocals that were, like, five times louder than Hawksley on the first song – but the sound folks got that sorted out in short order.
I took notes during the show so here’s a full setlist:
• We Will Still Need a Song [this was an all-ages show, so he started with “Baby, you’re drunk” instead of the usual “Fuck you, you’re drunk”]
• The City is a Drag [an extended version where he also sang part of Karma Chameleon and a bit of We Built This City]
• We’re Not Broken Yet
• Warhol’s Portrait of Gretzky [this was the “pretty bloody sexy” version]
• Teenage Cats
• It’s Really Starting to Snow
• Or Maybe a Boat
• someone called out for Claire Fontaine and he did the first few lines
• Goodbye to Radio
• Jealous of Your Cigarette
• Your Beauty Must Be Rubbing Off
• Oh You Delicate Heart
• Safe and Sound
• he started Autumn’s Here but decided against it
• Beautiful and Natural
• Smoke Baby [it sounded like there was a bit of Wicked Game thrown in there, but I couldn’t hear well enough to be certain]
• Don’t Be Crushed
So no real surprises, but a fine set. Of course, Hawksley spent lots of time talking to the crowd, and everything was very Saskatoon-centric. He talked about his first shows at Louis’ Pub and moving up to the Broadway Theatre, though he seemed to hold a special spot in his heart for Amigo’s. I don’t remember him ever playing Amigo’s (apart from one show with Mounties a few years ago that I was too sick to attend), but he really wanted all of us to go swimming in the river after his show, and we should all swim over to Amigo’s. But we had to be careful doing it. “Safety third? No. Safety first? Yes.”
As soon as the show was over, I was out of there – I had about an hour to get back to the car and make my way to Amigo’s. Nicholas helped me tote my lawn chairs back to the car before heading home to touch up his glitter. The others went for poutine. I was very much looking forward to Son of Dave but I did have a touch of poutine envy.
SLCR #284: Son of Dave (June 24, 2017)
I made it to Amigo’s with time to spare, got myself a cider, and grabbed a seat by myself up at the front and off to the side. There weren’t a ton of people there, though I was delighted to see anyone at all. That first Son of Dave show back in 2000 was pretty sparsely attended. By that, I mean – without exaggeration – there were more people there who paid to see me than to see the band. I had my table of friends who were there on my recommendation, and there was one guy who worked at the local community radio station, and that was about it. Other stops on that tour were about as well-attended. His previous band had garnered a lot of fame but it didn’t carry over to his (very different) solo project. It was a pretty difficult time for him, but he’s done well for himself since then, and it’s been really gratifying to watch him go from busking in London to regular tours and having songs in commercials and TV shows like Breaking Bad and Preacher.
Because this was a Jazz Festival show, it was the rare Amigo’s show that would start on time. I felt like I’d seen a unicorn. Unfortunately, Son of Dave’s set was scheduled to go short – only 45 minutes – because he was the opening act for Reverend Raven & the Chainsmoking Altar Boys. He had a longer set scheduled at the free stage on Sunday evening, but I needed to be back in Regina by then as we had bought those tickets to Serena Ryder long before finding out about this.
It’s really hard to not shorten Son of Dave to just Dave. But he’s not Dave. That’s his dad. He’s Benjamin.
Anyway. He took the stage right on time, bringing with him a box of harmonicas and a fruit basket that featured a bag of barbecue chips. He later showed this off to the crowd, claiming that it was his rider.
If you were hoping for something more exciting to happen with the fruit basket, sorry – it just seemed worth mentioning since it was a fruit basket with chips, but I maybe should have skipped it since it didn’t play a big role in the evening. Don’t mention the fruit basket unless Son of Dave later kills someone with the fruit basket. Chekhov’s fruit basket.
Son of Dave plays the blues, kind of. He plays harmonica and whatever else he feels like, and he beatboxes and sings and mixes it all on the fly with a sampler. He calls himself a bluesman and you can hear it in his music, but he’s much better suited for a dance party than one would expect from a bluesman. His most recent release is a covers album called Explosive Hits, and that was mostly what he played here. There were some of his originals, like Leave Without Running and Shake a Bone (someone more knowledgeable than me will surely point out that these are old blues songs that I don’t know about), but he played a lot of covers – everything from Tequila to Pump Up the Jam with a little Daft Punk for good measure.
Much as I watched his career progress from that 2000 show to now, you could see him winning over the audience as the evening went on. At the start, everyone stayed back in their seats, which he said was fine, we’d had a hard week and he’d just “do all the fuckin’ work” for us. Then a few fans went up to the front. They were even requesting specific songs of his, which was pretty cool. Over the brief set, they were joined up at the front by more and more people. He showered them with dollar bills and people scrambled for fake money. Eventually, he demanded a conga line, and he got one. This was all great fun and my only complaint was that we didn’t get twice as much of it.
I didn’t stick around for Reverend Raven & the Chainsmoking Altar Boys, so as tradition dictates, I’ll assume they were great. I also didn’t stick around to chat with Benjamin, which I would have liked to do, but it was getting late and I wasn’t sure he was going to come out anyway. Hopefully I’ll get a chance next time, and hopefully that isn’t another 17 years away.
I made my way back to Josy and Anna’s house, where their son was having a sleepover with three friends. I met Anna on the front porch, and we visited for 20 minutes as we mentally prepared ourselves for what awaited inside. But mostly they were just watching a movie and it was pretty reasonable, all things considered. I chatted with Josy and Anna for a while as the kids all passed out. I tiptoed around them on my way up to bed for fear of waking them up and setting them off once more. Again, I read some internet on my phone before falling asleep.
Now, I’d taken over Josy’s son’s room for the duration of my stay. And as I mentioned in the last review (or was it two reviews ago? I forget how this gimmick works and I’m too lazy to scroll up), my phone cord was just a little too short – I could reach the outlet from the bed, but I couldn’t actually set the phone down on the bed – and because of the headboard, there was no convenient place to rest my phone – so I just left my phone hanging over the headboard. The first night, that worked fine. On the second night, not so much. I woke up around 8:00 and my phone was missing. Which sounds like the punchline to a tremendous joke about giant marshmallows (or… something smaller and harder, I guess?) but it was all too real.
“Oh well,” I thought, “it has to be here, no sense worrying about it now.” I got up and went to the bathroom, then laid back down to sleep some more. And of course I couldn’t. I dumped the pillows on the floor. And then all the blankets. Nothing. And then the mattress. Still nothing. There were these slats that supported the mattress, and clearly the phone had fallen through them. And the slats were screwed into the bedframe. There was no removing them.
Luckily, I had also brought my work phone with me, and I could use the Find My iPhone app to track my lost personal phone. I could also use it as a flashlight. The bad news is that I hadn’t charged it and it was down to the dreaded red sliver of battery life. I used the app, and sure enough, the loud ringing (it’s 8:00 a.m.) told me that my personal phone was somewhere under the bed. (Here I discovered that you can’t turn off the ringing without finding the phone and the phone was vibrating loudly too.) The bed has drawers in it, so I figured that was my answer – pull out a drawer and I can reach my phone. I shone my work phone flashlight into the darkness and saw something. I stretched as best as I could to reach it – and found a sock. This phone had mysteriously vanished, except that it was still ringing at me from somewhere in the darkness. I tried moving the bed. No phone – it was moving WITH the bed. And still ringing. And vibrating against my feet – it had fallen into the bedframe somehow.
Jesus, that was three paragraphs just to remind myself to pack the longer phone cord next time. Suffice to say, I eventually got the phone out and silenced it – and dropped my work phone under the bed in the process. I retrieved it, moved the bed back, got the drawer back in, put the mattress back, made the bed, and collapsed into it. This was all so very stupid and I’m pretty sure this anecdote is setting records for its dismal ratio of length vs. quality. IT WAS A BIG DUMB MESS AND IT KEPT GETTING DUMBER AND MORE RIDICULOUS WHEN IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN SUCH AN EASY FIX IS MY POINT
When I finally got up for real, I headed back to Regina in short order so that I’d have plenty of time before the Serena Ryder show. This was not part of the SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival, though I did see it once referenced as being part of the smaller and seemingly unrelated JazzFest Regina 2017 (my tickets didn’t say it was, but I saw it on the internet somewhere), so sure, let’s go ahead and confuse future me and lump it in here. This thing isn’t long enough yet.
SLCR #285: Serena Ryder (June 25, 2017)
I first saw Ryder in 2003. Hawksley had produced her album, and she was on tour opening for him. I saw her twice more after that in short order – once at the 2004 Regina Folk Festival (with Hawksley and his band as her band), and later that year at a solo show at the Exchange. There were probably around 100 people at that one.
Since then, of course, she’s become a bonafide star with some big hits. She’s playing bigger venues to far more people. And that’s great! I like it when talented folks succeed. That said, my interest had waned over time. As her stuff sounded more produced and took some of the focus away from her voice, I lost some interest. And somehow this led to me not seeing her in concert for 13 years. I cannot fathom this. I mean, it makes sense. I was new to Regina. It may have been the first Regina Folk Festival Concert Series show I ever went to. But 13 years?
I’d like to finish this monstrosity sometime before 2018 is done, so I’ll set aside my existential crisis for now. They announced the concert, I thought “maybe, if I can get good tickets,” and then I was quick on the draw and got front row centre. That’s good enough.
On our way into the Conexus Arts Centre, I ran into my friend Brian, who noted that the crowd was skewed a lot older than he expected. There were lots of white-hair folks in the audience. Neither of us pointed out that he fit that bill too. Or that if you’re going strictly by colour, I’ll be there soon enough.
Mika and I took our seats and killed time before the concert as we often do – by going through our respective Instagrams and showing each other pictures of cute pets. It’s basically a pre-show ritual at this point, and that’s a problem when we have too many shows too close together. You people need to get more cats.
Our openers were local musicians Ava Wild and Scott Pettigrew, who played a very short set. They took turns, each singing lead on 3 or 4 songs. This was folky singer-songwriter stuff, mostly originals but with two covers – Wild sang Tennessee Waltz, and they closed with a duet – Hotel Yorba by the White Stripes. This was only enough to get a taste of each, but it was quite enjoyable and I hope to see them again someday.
Ryder took the stage and immediately started into Stompa, one of her big hits from her previous album. This was one of only three songs that Mika recognized all night, saying that she only knew the songs that they use on football. “Or are football-adjacent,” she added. What I Wouldn’t Do is another one; I don’t watch enough football or ads during football to guess the third and I’m not waking her up to check. Really, I didn’t know many more songs than that either – there weren’t many old songs and those are the ones I know best.
The show was divided into three sections. The first and third had the full band (including two backup singers with amazing shoes), whereas the second was just Ryder and a guitar. I enjoyed her newer stuff – nothing on the show was bad – but the part where it was just her and a guitar was my favourite. It was a lot closer to the shows I remember. Plus it gave her more time to talk to the audience which was always good. She comes across as very down to earth with a great sense of humour.
The real star of the show may have been this “piece of confetti shaped like a leaf” that fell from the ceiling, somehow, and fluttered in the air, taking forever to finally land on the stage. Not only did it distract Ryder mid-song, but she then went in search of it, eventually handing it to an audience member, telling them to pass it to the back in hopes that it would eventually make its way up the balcony and fall on the stage again. It didn’t 😦
One thing I always liked in the old shows was when Ryder would do a few songs a capella; Sing Sing and Melancholy Blue being two favourites. There was nothing like that on this show. I don’t know if that’s been retired for good, or if she just wasn’t doing that now so as to rest her voice. She mentioned that her voice was in rough shape and that she couldn’t sing as high as normal right now. This, of course, is one of those things that I’d have never noticed if she hadn’t said anything, and her voice was always the big selling point for me.
All told, it wasn’t like the shows I remember, but she still has a great voice and a really likable personality. Would I go see her again? That’s a tricky one. I like her a lot, but have less interest in her newer songs and those will always be the focus. She’s played the Folk Festival before and probably will again, and maybe I should just wait for those appearances to roll around. Really, it probably just depends what kind of mood you catch me in when tickets go on sale.
Does this mean we can finally wrap this thing up?
SLCR #286: Ava Wild & Scott Pettigrew (July 9, 2017)
No. We cannot. This cannot end. It’s two weeks later but this cannot end. This is only tangentially related to the previous review, but this cannot end.
Mark and Arlette got married. Hooray! And Other James got them a concert as a gift, which is totally something he’d do, and also a sign that the rest of us need to step up our game. Gravy boat? No longer acceptable.
Historically, I have skipped out on writing full reviews when seeing my friends’ bands since… well, I don’t have a good reason. I say it’s because I can’t be impartial (basically, I can’t say mean things if they’re awful), but mostly it was a good excuse to half-ass a review and call it good. And while I don’t know Ms. Wild or Mr. Pettigrew, I do know Mark and Arlette and this was in their backyard, so… good enough. Or so I thought – then Mark asked me mid-concert if he was getting a review. Mika said “now you have to.” She was right. Whole ass: engaged.
We showed up around 2:40. We were greeted first by Other James, then random guests, then Gus, a friendly little dog who rapidly lost interest in us as there were many other people around and one of them might feed him. We eventually found Mark and Arlette who welcomed us into their lovely yard and showed us where everything was. We were told there were snacks in the garage, but I was involved in the construction of that garage so we wisely stayed away for fear it might collapse at any moment. We sat near it for a while which was risky enough.
You’ll note I did not say I helped build the garage. I was there while much of it was built. I mostly tried to stay out of the way and for at least part of that day, I was not an active hindrance. That’s as good as you’re going to get.
The B that we BYO’d came from Last Mountain Distillery – Sweet Tea Vodka Lemonade coolers. I picked up a four-pack at the farmers’ market the day before, so we had two each. The second one was better than the first; in a related note, I should have brushed my teeth immediately upon waking up instead of right before leaving the house.
The music was broken into three sets – Wild solo, Pettigrew solo, and then the two together. I believe Wild played all originals, all on acoustic guitar. She has “a lot of songs” – some of which you can hear on her first album, Bare. Bare came out last year. Wild graduated from high school this year. That was enough to bring on a full-on “What have I done with my life?” crisis, but get this. I saw Ava Wild open for Serena Ryder two weeks ago. The last time I saw Serena Ryder in concert? Wild was 5. If you need me, I’ll be curled up in the corner, thinking about how quickly I’ll be dead.
No! I must soldier on. Ceaselessly. Like time itself. Scott Pettigrew played an electric guitar – it’s worth nothing that people who know things about guitars were really into both Wild and Pettigrew’s guitars – and while he sang a number of original tunes too (some from his album Alone, which also came out last year), he also threw some covers into the mix. He started with a Robert Johnson song, and later played a new Dan Auerbach song (Never In My Wildest Dreams) and – oh yes – Hallelujah. He did a fine job on it but that’s almost immaterial for me – I’ve grown to love covers of Hallelujah to a ridiculous degree, just because I know how much Aaron hates them. Let’s campaign to get Robert Pollard to cover Hallelujah just to see what happens to Aaron.
After Pettigrew’s set, we had a bit of an extended break so I chatted with a few folks from work. I also mustered up my courage and braved the garage. There were snacks; it was inevitable.
The last set with both Wild and Pettigrew was a lot like their slot opening for Serena Ryder – among other songs, they again played Tennessee Waltz and Hotel Yorba – though the whole thing was more relaxed. Despite joking that they were only pretending to know what they were doing, they did a fine job – both with the whole music thing, but also in handling our talking, heckling, stage-managing gang of hooligans. They’re very talented singers, songwriters, and musicians and they seem like delightful humans to boot. Recommended.
As for the venue, our lovely hosts took good care of us all. There were a couple dozen people in a tight space but everyone had a fine time. Also, I think there should be a dog at every concert I go to. I mean, maybe not the loud shows. But, like, if I could leave Guns ‘N Roses for five minutes to play with a dog who only loved me for my watermelon, wouldn’t that be better? Also, I’m confused why so many concert venues sound so bad and a random backyard can sound that good. In 286 reviews and probably around 300 actual concerts, this was my first house concert and I think maybe I’ve been doing it all wrong. Maybe if someplace tells you it’s a concert hall or an event centre or whatever, it’s trying too hard to convince you. Just find a backyard instead, one that’s all like “I got this.”
Yes. Find a talking backyard with confidence and hold all your concerts there. That is a wonderful note to end on.
SLCR #287: NO NO NO NO NO no no no nooooooooooooooooooo no
• Bob Dylan (July 15)
• July Talk (August 3)
• I Mother Earth and The Watchmen (August 4)
• Crash Test Dummies & the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (August 7)
• Beck (August 20)
• kd lang w/Kacy & Clayton (August 26)
• Guns N’ Roses w/Our Lady Peace (August 27)
• The Sadies (September 14)
• Steve Earle & The Dukes (September 27)
• The New Pornographers w/Born Ruffians (October 6)
• Whitehorse w/Terra Lightfoot (October 13)
• Sarah Slean (October 14)
• Martha Wainwright (October 22)
• David Myles (October 24)
• Tanya Tagaq & the Regina Symphony Orchestra (November 25)
Get comfy, folks, this is another long one (that’s what she said).
This one’s (mostly) easy (that’s also what she said). I’ve been a fan of Bryan Adams since I was a kid, getting his cassettes from Columbia House. We played those tapes over and over. I know every word, every note, every solo. At least for the early years stuff…
Adams has come up recently, too. James went to see him in concert, and said they just kept playing hit after hit and it was endless. That’s our childhood, right there. It really is incredible how many songs they had that we all know by heart. In the comments on that post, Deke mentioned Keith Scott and oh man, that’s a guitar hero of mine right there.
I was along for the ride early on, but I drifted pretty much after Waking Up The Neighbours. I don’t precisely know why. That album was… well, I’ll get there.
So, since you likely know all of these, I’m just gonna run quick through the records and you’ll see what I’m on about. These are the only ones I still have here, because I’m quite sure these are the only ones that matter…
NB: For the record (pun intended, of course), I owned all of these on CS as a kid… Waking Up The Neighbours was the first one I bought on CD…
1980 Bryan Adams (0…)
I had this first, self-titled record here, in one format or another, but now I do not. What happened to it? Weird. I need to replace it. It has a ton of great early Adams on it. Hidin’ From Love… Remember… Give Me Your Love… Win Some, Lose Some… When I get another copy, I’ll add it into this series as an extra. I’m on it.
1981 You Want It You Got It (CD, LPx2)
Truth to tell, it was this record and those following it that got played a whole shit-ton more. Witness the radio-ready Lonely Nights (later covered by Uriah Heep) and the chugging blues rock of Fits Ya Good, both of which proved the template was already in place for later records. But there’s a ton of great deep cuts here too. Honestly, it’s an album of coulda-been hits. Coming Home is almost a 70s soul ballad, Jealousy (later covered by Prism) bops along like 70s Springsteen, the title track pogos like a pop punker, and No One Makes It Right is a big piano torch ballad Elton John would’ve loved.
A classic. Pure early Adams.
1983 Cuts Like A Knife (CD, LP)
Folks, this is where shit started to go crazy. 6 friggin’ singles, all of them huge. Straight From the Heart, Cuts Like A Knife, This Time, Take Me Back, I’m Ready, and The Only One. I mean, if the first two records were good, this one was great. And the 4 tracks that weren’t singles, What’s It Gonna Be, Don’t Leave Me Lonely (co-written with Eric Carr), and Let Him Know all coulda-been. And let’s talk a minute about how the flying fuck The Best Was Yet To Come was not a single. Seriously, folks. HOW? What dumbass at A&M fell asleep on THAT one?
If you like Adams at all, you already have this. If not, you need it. You know, most artists would call this a career album. Adams was just getting started. Read on…
1984 Reckless (CD, LP)
If CLAK was where things started to go crazy, Reckless was where it got unhinged. The accomplishements and accolades of this record are crazy. It hit Number 1 on the Billboard Top 200, and was the first Canadian record to sell 1 million copies in Canada. 6 more singles off this one: Run To You, Somebody, Heaven, Summer Of ’69, One Night Love Affair, and It’s Only Love (the giant duet with Tina Turner). All six of these songs made the Top 15 on the Billboard Hot 100, a feat previously only managed by Thriller and Born In The U.S.A. I mean, this thing was everywhere.
Even in my super-small hometown. 1984 I was 10 years old. THIS was the record. We played the absolute hell out of our cassette copies. We knew all the words, every second of that thing, and now here in 2017, I still do. Listening back to it now, it isn’t just revisiting an old friend, it’s re-living my childhood.
And again, the non-singles shoulda-been. We loved the straight-ahead rock of She’s Only Happy When She’s Dancin’ and Kids Wanna Rock (still one of my favourite tracks on this album today), Long Gone, and Ain’t Gonna Cry.
Top to bottom, this record is insanely good. Perfectly crafted, every track an earworm and a hit. When I’m 90 years old and half-senile, I will still know every word and every damn note of this record, so ingrained is it in memory and psyche. Beyond essential. This is the stuff of a lifetime.
1985 Diana (CS, LPx2)
Here’s a fun one. My sister and I first heard the track Diana late one night on CFTR (still a Toronto station, though it’s 24/7 news, now). My sister used to record the radio onto cassettes, sitting there listening and recording, pressing pause for the commercials. She got most of the songs she wanted, that way. Now, it should be noted that she was (and still is) a Diana-phile. She got up crazy-early to watch the wedding on TV. She still has all the books, probably knows as much about Diana as anybody, even now. So when we heard this song, she broke out laughing. We both knew it for the joke it was. How anybody could get offended and think Adams was taking shots at Charles in a serious way, we had no clue. It wasn’t on Reckless (as Adams was worried it would offend Charles and Diana), but it was a b-side of Heaven. It was also released as this EP.
Honestly, Diana (the song) rocks. I get why he hasn’t played it since she died, and why it isn’t on any official record since, not even Hits sets. But it should be. It’s just a great tune.
Also on side A is the album version of Summer Of ’69 (because why the hell not), and then on Side B it’s The Bryan Adamix. I can’t decide if that’s a great title or cringe-worthy. Today I say the latter, but another day I might think it’s clever. Anyway, the track is a mash-up of Somebody/It’s Only Love/Diana/Fits Ya Good/Somebody (again), with jittery cuts between them to signal the song’s about to change to the next in line. This has always struck me as a bad idea. I mean, it proves you can splice stuff together in a studio, but why? You’ve just stuffed the essences of 4 solid stand-alone songs (one of them twice!) down into 5:52. Congratulations? I guess? Anyway, an oddity they (thankfully) never repeated.
I first owned this on cassette (a copy found in a cheap-o bin in a video shoppe in Stratford, ON, of all places). I found my LP copies downtown in our… special used record shoppe. I don’t even know why I own two copies on LP. It’s available cheaply online, too. Worth owning for the title track, definitely. The rest… up to you. I’d say no.
1987 Into The Fire (CD)
And now here, in ’87, Adams found himself in a conundrum. How the hell do you follow up Reckless? The expectations and pressures on him must have been huge. Still, make a record they did, and I loved it. There were (again) 6 singles on this one: Heat Of The Night, Hearts On Fire, Victim Of Love, Only The Strong Survive, Into The Fire, and Another Day. All of them excellent. I sort of skim over these with just titles because I assume you know all those songs already. If you don’t, you oughta. This one’s damn strong.
This record went to Number 2 here in Canada. But even for all of that, I knew so many people who got off the bus here. It just goes to show you that fans are fickle, I guess. But nevermind those dummies. Myself, and especially my winger Michael, played the hell outta this one too.
The deep cuts (again) were also awesome. The mid-tempo rock buoying the strong message of Native Son, the piano ballad that builds into a homecoming tale on Rebel, and the longing of the album closer Home Again are all awesome. And I have to give a huge shout to Remembrance Day, an absolutely powerful track I try to remember to play every November 11. It’s one of my favourite Adams songs, to be honest.
I think they nailed it, with this record. It got lots of exposure, sure, but it seemed to me that a lot of the people who were on board with Reckless didn’t get as into this one. Shame, that. This one’s just as strong.
1988 Live! Live! Live! (CD)
Recorded (live, duh) at the Rock Werchter festival 1988-07-03 in Werchter, Belgium, except for Into The Fire, which is from Tokyo, Japan. It was pouring rain in Werchter for this recording, and Adams even mentions it from the stage, saying “I’ve got to tell you something. For you people to sit out in the rain, means you’re one hell of an audience. I mean, to sit out in this…”
It’s telling, looking at the track listing, just how much work Adams had to draw from, all of the songs great. I mean, look at this (they had the crowd in hand the whole time):
She’s Only Happy When She’s Dancin’ / It’s Only Love / Cuts Like A Knife / Kids Wanna Rock / Hearts On Fire / Take Me Back / The Best Was Yet To Come / Heaven / Heat Of The Night / Run To You / One Night Love Affair / Long Gone / Summer Of ’69 / Somebody
And then, as if all that isn’t enough, they lay out two awesome covers, first it’s Patsy Cline’s Walking After Midnight (which they turn into a bluesy guitar party rocker), following that with a pretty straight-foward (but still with that Adams sound) version of the Clash’s I Fought the Law. The disc closes with Into The Fire (from Tokyo, the only song not from Werchter).
Honestly, what a set. I can name songs that should be here, but it’d have to be a 3CD set if I got to choose. More importantly, though, this one captures the energy and prowess of Adams and band in concert around this time. It’s an excellent encapsulation of that early “era” of Adams’ career, so why not cap it with a live record. I mean, as we’ll see shortly (below), things were going to change a bit. If you don’t have this live disc, get it. It’s tons of fun.
1991 Waking Up The Neighbours (CD)
If I were honest, looking back, this is where I started to drift from Adams’ new stuff. At the time, of course, I was over the moon there was a new record and I bought it straight away (this would have been my first CD new release purchase of his work, too) and played the hell out of it. And deservedly so, as it had 7 singles on it: (Everything I Do) I Do It For You, Can’t Stop This Thing We Started, There Will Never Be Another Tonight, Thought I’d Died And Gone To Heaven, All I Want Is You, Do I Have To Say The Words?, and Touch The Hand.
Listening back to the record now, all of those earned every praise, and so did the others. Is Your Mama Gonna Miss Ya?, Hey Honey – I’m Packin’ You In, Not Guilty, Vanishing, House Arrest, Depend On Me, If You Wanna Leave Me (Can I Come Too?), and Don’t Drop That Bomb On Me all had that signature style and knack for a hook.
Of course, in 1991 I was deep into it and heard it plenty. I couldn’t even put into words, though, that it somehow felt different from the others. The songs were there, it was fun and loaded with hit tunes, but the sound had changed. Of course, this was the first record not made by Adams and Bob Clearmountain (or Jim Vallance), but instead with Mutt Lange. As we know now, Lange makes Adams sound like Def Leppard sound like Shania Twain sound like… well, sound like what Mutt Lange would want to sound like if he were in those bands. It’s a case (like Daniel Lanois) where producer takes over record with their sound. Turns out, and all deference to him, I don’t like this version of Lange’s ‘sound.’ Not for sustained periods, anyway. At least there weren’t exclamation points! after! every! damn! word! in! the! song! titles!
There was, as you know, also the whole CanCon blow up over (Everything I Do) I Do It For You, but that was what it was. This album’s tour was also the first (and only) time I’ve ever seen Adams in concert. I’d go again, just never gone much out of my way. Anyway, I think I’ve told that story before – we were at London Fairgrounds, and the line-up went Sass Jordan (who was good but shrill as hell, and possibly drunk), Steve Miller Band (Miller was so out of it the crowd taught him the words to his songs), Extreme (who fucking rocked it), then Bryan Adams. The Adams band put on a helluva show. I remember it getting so cold, as the night wore on, despite it being August, that at one point a guitar went out of tune. The whole band stopped mid-song and held position like mannequins while a roadie ran out and swapped guitars, then BAM they went right back into the song where they’d left off as if nothing had happened. The place went nuts. Talk about a well-oiled machine. Thinking back on it now, my lovely wife went with the group of us to that gig, but we weren’t dating then. Just friends in a group. Funny how life goes.
This was the first Adams record I didn’t go back to as often, as the years have gone past. If I hear one of the tracks in a mix, of course I perk up. But playing the whole album through now, in 2017, made me a little tired. It sounded like Bryan Adams covering Bryan Adams, through a Mutt Lange filter. I dunno. It’s good, the songs are strong. I feel weird blasting it a bit, but there ya go.
Post In Sum:
Adams has gone on to release several more records, and has had a legendary career, by this point. I know I had 18 ’Til I Die for a while but ditched it long ago. That was the last studio album of his I bought. I was sure I had the MTV Unplugged, and thought it was still here, alas it doesn’t seem to be. Where did it go? Sigh. I don’t know.
It hardly matters. If I want Adams, I’m gonna listen to 1980-1987 anyway. All deference to fans of the later stuff. Maybe someday I’ll get around to it. I probably should.
As it stands, I had a ton of fun going back through the early years of Adams’ work that I have here (I still need to replace the first record). I sort of wrote this assuming you all knew all of these songs, which may have been presumptuous. If you don’t know them, I recommend you get to them at some point. A lot of this stuff is absolutely undeniable. Great records, back then, the stuff that memories of an entire childhood and upon which a nascent lifelong music obsession was built. OH YEAH!
Oh, and as for the Hit IT or Quit It series, these are all Hits. It should be noted that Waking Up The Neighbours walked a fine line, to my 2017 ears, but nostalgia outweighed my concerns and I’ll hang onto the CD for now. I’ll probably move on the duplicate copies I own of these records.
I had a wee dig at our new Sunrise the other night, and came up with a gem.
Oh yes. I do love me some Burnside. This was one I didn’t already have, so I’m thrilled to bring it home.
Check out that price sticker up in the top right corner. $11.99 (CAD) for a brand new LP? That’s awesome! Especially considering I checked the Amazons when I got home and it’s going for $26.19, thus giving me a savings of $14.20! And that’s not including shipping, as they now require $35 before free shipping…
Now, I’d be inclined to think Sunrise had mis-priced this item and I got away with something. But I can also recall buying a Burnside LP at Kops on Bloor in Taranna for about the same price.* So maybe Fat Possum just prices things well so that even with store margins, we win. As a favour to all of us diehard blues fans. Right on, if that’s true, Fat Possum!
Either way, I’m very happy with this addition to the collection. Sunrise scores again!
* I checked, it was a brand new LP of Mr. Wizard for $9.99!
Yesterday, a parcel arrived at our KMA eastern offices from the illustrious and awesome Geoff of 100albumsin10years! Oh yes, a parcel of much goodness…
Inside was a note:
OMG. This contains three of my favourite things: Sloan, GBV, and COMMUNITY!
First up, the Sloooooaaaaann…
Check out that handsome ‘Navy Blues Brother.’ Yessir, that’s Sloan’s Andrew Scott on the cover of this May 1998 issue of Chart magazine. Inside the mag is a five-page article called Sloan: Fantastic 4, about the band and the new (at the time) album, Navy Blues, which is a rocker for sure, and there’s a bio page of the band to-date as well. Hot damn! There’s a ton of other stuff in this mag too, which I’ll surely cover in a later post, but right now I’m reading about Sloan so that other stuff will have to wait!
And then, tucked into the mag, to mark the page of the Slooooaaan article (natch), was a 7″ record. Oh yes.
[click the shite photeys to embiggen them…]
Guided By Voices – Planet Score b/w Zero Elasticity
Limited to 1000 copies, and including a free download of the tracks, this 7″ contains Planet Score and Zero Elasticity from the excellent 2014 album Motivational Jumpsuit.
This is thrilling on a couple of levels. One, I am a huge Guided By Voices fan and will always happily welcome any of their releases into my collection. And two, for years I have consciously skipped trying to collect the 7″ output by this band. There are soooo many, I mean, they put out about six albums a year for a decade and a half, and each record gets at least a couple of 7″ singles… That said, I always look at them longingly in the shoppes… and now here is one in my house! It’s GORGEOUS!
I thought it would be fun to make a mix of old school hip hop for the kids, show the kids what we used to like back in the 80s. Two things happened:
- It is nearly impossible to find old school rap songs that don’t have swearing, or sexual references, or violent imagery in them. I mean, I ultimately found about 25 tracks, but I combed all 4 of my Anthems Hip Hop sets (3CD each = 12CD) to even get those.
- My kids didn’t really like it.
They were OK with Run DMC and Aerosmith’s Walk This Way, mostly, but they liked A Tribe Called Quest’s Can I Kick It? better… my lovely wife says in this way you can tell they take after me. We tried Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash, Gang Starr, Eric B. & Rakim, Young MC, EPMD, Kurtis Blow, a whole bunch of old hits (and reading those names, you can probably guess the tracks they heard). But… meh. My boy said he’d rather Iron Maiden, while my daughter asked for Jake Bugg. So there you go. I’ll keep the disc and we can try it again in a year or so.
One track that bugged me lyrically, though, was Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock’s It Takes Two. It’s seemingly innocuous, and it has a funky beat (and that damn repeated “yeah!”… “scream” thing throughout) but I listened closely to the lyrics and it hurt my damn head…
Right about now
You are about to be possessed
By the sounds of
MC Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock
Possesed? Should I call an exorcist? A… rapsorcist?
I wanna rock right now
I’m Rob Base and I came to get down
I’m not internationally known
But I’m known to rock the microphone
So how far is the range of your being known? Your state? Your town? Your Mom?
Because I get stupid, I mean outrageous
So, say outrageous the first time, then.
Stay away from me if you’re contagious
Um, OK? Are you a germophobe?
‘Cause I’m the winner, no, I’m not a loser
To be an MC is what I choose-a
That doesn’t rhyme with loser.
Ladies love me,
Sure they do.
girls adore me
I mean even the ones who never saw me
Like the way that I rhyme at a show
What? If they never saw you, how could they…?
The reason why, man, I don’t know
I don’t know either because you’re not making sense. Also, way to have self-confidence. You don’t know why people would like what you do?
My name is Rob, I gotta real funky concept
Listen up, ’cause I’m gonna keep you in step
I got an idea
That I wanna share
You don’t like it, so what, I don’t care
Wait a minute, we just listened all the way to here and you couldn’t give a shit? Why did you write this song, then? It’s to make sure people don’t come near you with their germs, isn’t it. I knew it.
I’m number-one, the uno, I like comp
Bring all the suckers ’cause all them I’ll stomp
Rob Base is Yoda, now?
Bold and black but I won’t protect
All of my followers ’cause all I want is respect
Wait. So you won’t protect your followers but expect them to respect you? Dude.
I’m not a doctor, put them in rapture
A slick brother that can easy outfox ya
‘Cause I’m Rob, the last name Base, yeah
And on the mike, I’m known to be the freshest
Go on, boast to all those you won’t protect…
So let’s start, it shouldn’t be too hard
I’m not a sucker so I don’t need a bodyguard
I won’t fess, wear a bulletproof vest
So you don’t need protection either.
Don’t smoke buddha, can’t stand sess, yes
What? Wait a minute, are you high right now?
The situation that the Base is in
I’m kinda stingy that’s why I don’t wanna lend
A funky rhyme to a foe or a good friend
But listen up ’cause I want you to comprehend
Folks he won’t protect you, and he won’t help you.
‘Cause I’m the leader, the man superior
I take care of ya and then ya get wearier
But you just said you won’t take care of us at all.
So just sit, my rhymes are not counterfeit
The record sells which makes this one a hit
It won’t hurt to listen to Red Alert
Take off your shirt, make sure it don’t hit the dirt
I will not take my shirt off for you, Rob Base.
I like the kids, the guys, the girls
I want the ducats ’cause this is Rob Base’s world
I’m on a mission, ya better just listen
To my rhymes ’cause I’m all about dissin’ ’cause
Now wait a minute. Who are you “dissin’?” And ducats? Seriously? I think the only thing you said here that makes sense to me is that Rob Base is in his own world.
I stand alone, don’t need anyone
You must be fun at parties. Remember your John Donne though, Rob. No man is an island.
‘Cause I’m Rob, just came to have fun
Don’t need friends that act like foes
‘Cause I’m Rob Base, the one who knows
About things that make ya get weary
Don’t cheer me, just hear me
Out ’cause I got the clout, shout (ho!)
Before I turn the party out
You know about things that make me weary, alright. Have you read your own lyrics?
I won’t stutter, project my voice, speak clearly
So you can be my choice on stage
Wait, so I get to join you on stage now, Mr. I Don’t Need Anyone? What about the germs?
Or on record, go to the Wiz and select it
Take it off the rack, if it’s wack put it back
The Wiz? Of Oz?
I like the Whopper, fuck the Big Mac
Given that you haven’t mentioned food anywhere else in this song, this is random but OK, suuure…
If you want static, so let’s go
So, throw up your hands, go for what you know
I could go for a Big Mac…
Bro’, I got an ego
No kidding. Really?
Yo, talkin’ to me, no, oh?
No. Oh. Yo?
‘Cause Rob is in the front, EZ Rock is on the backup
And he’s probably wondering how long he has to put up with this before he gets a better gig.
We’re not soft, so you better just slack up
‘Cause I’m cool, calm just like a breeze
You have not sounded calm once in this song. In fact, you’ve been very opinionated and nonsensical.
Rock the mike with the help of E-Z Rock
On the set, the music plays
Only cuts the records that I say
And if you don’t get your way, Mr. Bossypants, do you lie on the floor, kick and scream and cry until they let you have your way?
It seems like such an innocuous vacuous pop rap song. And it is. Just don’t listen to the lyrics. They’ll hurt your head.
And keep your germs to yourself. Apparently. Haha what a dumb song.
Pass the Tylenol.
a-ha – Hunting High And Low (LP)
This one’s a total nostalgia blast for me. I got it on cassette (from Columbia House) when I was a kid and held onto it for years. Over the years, I lost that cassette, never had the CD, or the LP… until recently, I found the LP and brought it home.
For being a debut album, this Norwegian band’s work is wonderful. There were five (5!) singles from it: of course, you all know the huge hit Take On Me (and it’s fantastic video)… and then there’s Breakfast Club dancer Love Is Reason… the big synth popper The Sun Always Shines On T.V… the club-thumper Train Of Thought… and sweet ballad Hunting High And Low. All of them worthy singles. The album was nominated for a Grammy (the first Norwegian band to achieve a nomination). Hell, even the cover photo was nominated for a Grammy.
And hey Geoff, it’s even on the 1001 list!
Yup, this thing was huge in 1985.
The other tracks here are just as exciting, with Depeche Mode-ish Blue Sky… slinky mid-tempo Living A Boy’s Adventure Tale… gentle pure 80s ballad And You Tell Me… the 80s dance track that uses all the keyboard effect in I Dream Myself Alive… and, finally, the mid-tempo love tune Here I Stand And Face The Rain… They’re all equally excellent. Honestly, this was such a throwback for me, I hadn’t heard it in years, but I still knew every song and every twist and turn… heck, I still knew a lot of the lyrics (crazy!). Talk about blowing the dust off my memory of a tape I played endlessly as a kid…
Hunting High And Low has that pure 80s sound, but of the pile of shite that went down back then, this one is among those that actually still sound frickin’ great. This album is a Hit for two reasons: 1) for nostalgia’s sake, just like when I re-heard Tears For Fears’ amazing Songs From The Big Chair a while back – I was transported pleasingly to my childhood boombox in my room… and 2) for still being a mid-80s blast of synth-pop full album excellence that stands up remarkably well all these years later.
NB1: The album was remastered and re-released as a Deluxe 2CD, 37-track edition in 2010, with a whole wealth of remixes, demo and extended versions, and it all looks delicious. I’ve never seen on in the wild, but if I did, I’d surely be tempted if it was a good price.
NB2: There also looks to be a 4CD / 1DVD 30th anniversary set with a whole pile of even more extra tracks and videos and what have you. It’s about $70 though, and I’m not sure I am THAT much of a fan haha.
PS: Here’s a neat bit of trivia for you: A-HA singer “Morten Harket holds the European record for the longest note held in a Top 40 pop song. During the song “Summer Moved On” Harket sustains a chest voice note for 20.2 seconds (8 measures). [Wiki]
As I noted recently, a Sunrise Records opened up in the carcass of our old shite little HMV. I went through it to check it out and, ultimately, didn’t buy anything that day.
Well, I had occasion yesterday afternoon to be out for a walk (gotta keep this fighting trim, don’tcha know) and happened past our shite little mall. Why not, I thought, as I wandered into Sunrise to see if round 2 would yield differences from my first visit, as the store gets its feet under it.
They definitely had more LPs than last time, and the rest seemed about the same. They STILL didn’t have any copies of the new Kendrick Lamar album (DAMN.), and that is just DAMN. silly. It’s one of the biggest albums right now, they’re fools for not having mutliple copies. Ah well.
On my first foray to this shoppe, I’d asked about the new Solstafir album, Berdreyminn, which I would have bought on the spot. Not only did they not have it, they didn’t even have a place marker for the band in the racks. A staffer looked it up, said they could get it, but it’d be an order. I left that idea there, as I can order from Amazon myself (and probably cheaper, I thought).
On this trip yesterday, not only did they have a place marker for Solstafir in the racks, but they had the new album on CD AND the boxed set deluxe edition. Of course, this is all because I asked them about it and definitely not because it was always gonna come in and it just wasn’t there yet on my first attempt, nope. It was all me. Anyway, there it was. And boom, I bought the deluxe on the spot. I paid $24.99 CAD. Today on Discogs they start at $26.40, so that’s ballpark, but on our Cdn Amazon today they’re $32.30 which is noticeably higher. Secondary sellers have them starting (new) at $21.18 plus $3.49 shipping (total $24.67), so it’s all in a range right now but I’m happy with what I paid as this copy was right there in my hand, no waiting for it to come to my house!
I haven’t even played it uninterrupted all the way through yet, (and now it’ll probably have to wait ten years for me to get to “S” in my All The Everything Series before I review it) but I can confirm that it sounds frickin’ great. If you like their sound, this one will please you for sure.
And the deluxe box was really nice, just like the last one for Ótta. This one comes with three bonus tracks on the CD, an extended 24-page booklet, a pin, and a patch. But probably my favourite addition to the box was a set of ear plugs with their own little storage pouch. That’s a thoughtful touch, I think, in case you ever go to see the band live you’ll be all set to protect your ears!
It’s limited to 10,000 worldwide, where the Ótta deluxe box was 4000 copies worldwide (did you get yours?), so make sure you get your copy quickly!
Sweet score. I’m totally happy.
First up: Happy Father’s Day to all you Dads out there. You rock.
Back when I did the three 10,000 Maniacs albums I have here for this All The Everything series, I actually voted Miss on all three. That seems harsh, eh? I mean, they’re good albums. But two are on cassette, which isn’t my primary playback source, and the one CD is just one I couldn’t see myself going back to to play again very often. I said then that I’d be happier with a Hits set of the band and, as I was going to Taranna, I’d keep my eyes peeled.
Well, guess what… I found it (thanks, Sonic Boom!). It’s a 2CD set called Campfire Songs: The Popular, Obscure & Unknown Recordings Of 10,000 Maniacs. Covering tracks from the five years between 1988-1993 (the Natalie Merchant Era), this set really shows how good and prolific this group was during that time. CD1 is the hits. CD is the extra stuff: b-sides, covers, demos, etc.
Delicious. Let’s see what’s here! I’m going to listen to each disc and make comments…
Planned Obsolescence / My Mother The War / Tension / Scorpio Rising / Like The Weather / Don’t Talk / What’s The Matter Here? / Hey Jack Kerouac / Verdi Cries / Trouble Me / Poison In The Well / You Happy Puppet / Eat For Two / Stockton Gala Days / Candy Everybody Wants / These Are Days / Because Of The Night*
* MTV Unplugged (originally written by Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith)
In Sum: Well, this CD1 was exactly what I was after. I was gonna go through track by track, but you know what? All the songs you know are here, plus a few you maybe don’t know but are still damn happy you’ve heard them. Kudos to whomever put this disc together. It’s stellar from top to bottom. Also, I usually rant about inclusion of live tracks on Hits discs, but in this case I’ll let it pass as it’s a great version and not a song of theirs.
But CD2 is where things really get interesting. I mean, as if it’s not enough that somany great songs are up there on CD1, but now we get a lot of stuff I would never have otherwise heard…
Poppy Selling Man has a skittery beat and a Casio keyboard quality to it, Leonard Cohen would love it. Fascinatingly, I know she’s singing in English, but somehow it sounds like German in enough spots to make me sharpen my ears. Neat.
Can’t Ignore The Train (demo version) is a sweet pop song with jangly guitar and that beat that Molly Ringwald could dance to in Breakfast Club. I’m sure deep fans would know the differences between this demo and the one that ended up on Wishing Chair.
Up next it’s Cat Stevens’ Peace Train, appears here, which I think is fair and balanced. As you may recall, it was removed from In My Tribe because “comments made by Stevens (by then a Muslim convert and known as Yusuf Islam) that were perceived to be supportive of the fatwa on Salman Rushdie. The song remains on vinyl copies and CDs released outside the United States.” It’s actually a well-written song with that sway done so well by the Maniacs.
Wildwood Flower switches us to a barnyard hoedown, written as it was by the Carter Family’s A.P. Carter. Yee-haw! Haha this was fun. Good on them for jamming this one out. I told my lovely wife this one was on here and she said “oh, I love that song!” So there you go.
I was thrilled to see Hello In There included. I do love me some John Prine, and their version of this heartwrenching song is quite excellent, though a bit disorienting… Prine’s original is a gorgeous, picked acoustic version, while the Maniacs turn it into a bit of a pop song which still works… but being so used to the original, it threw me a wee bit.
To Sir, With Love is a live outtake from MTV’s Rock n’ Roll Inaugural Ball, as well as the Few and Far Between EP. It features Micheal Stipe on vocals and they do a credible run-through of this film tune. Actually, those voices work well together, as they’ve proven at other times. You knew this already. Onward.
I had to read the credits to know that Everyday Is Like Sunday is a Morrissey song, but now that I know that, I totally hear it. I was just saying elsewhere about how I just can’t ever get to caring about Morrissey at all, but power to those who do. So… this is a good version? I guess? I’m not about to be hearing the original to compare, so I’ll say it’s fine.
Next up is Jackson Browne’s These Days, which is beautiful and awesome. This band was built to cover this song.
We already own a copy of their cover of Tom Waits’ I Hope That I Don’t Fall in Love With You, on the Step Right UP: The Songs Of Tom Waits tribute disc. They do a great job.
We’re not done with the covers here, ‘cos next it’s David Bowie’s Starman. I wouldn’t have been able to imagine it, but the Maniacs handle the reggae beat well too! Yes, you read that correctly, they turned it into a light reggae tune. Which isn’t a total stretch, but interesting nonetheless!
Let The Mystery Be is an Iris Dement tune, and comes from the MTV Unplugged and features David Byrne. This track was not on the CD, but it was on the laserdisc and VHS releases. It’s actually quite brilliant, both the song and the execution here. Shoulda been on the CD!
Then we end off with three demos from Our Time In Eden: Noah’s Dove (demo), Circle Dream (alternate lyrics demo), and Eden (alternate lyrics demo) are all lovely versions of the final album tracks.
Holy shit, CD2 is really fantastic! I mean, you buy this set for CD1, to get the hits, but then you hear CD2 with all of its treasures… mind-blowing, really. Incredible.
Whole Set In Sum:
A definite Hit in the Hit It Or Quit It Series. If you want 10,000 Maniacs, this set will keep you happy for a good long while. It’s put together with thought and care, and the work here speaks for itself. Gorgeous.
NB: As Wiki pointed out, “In spite of what might be expected from the album’s title, the collection does not include “A Campfire Song” from In My Tribe.” Missed opportunity there!
Anita Pallenberg has died, aged 75, on June 13 after a long illness (cause of death has not, thus far, been given).
Keith Richards said “A most remarkable woman. Always in my heart,” in response to the news.
After leaving Brian Jones for Richards, the couple were together 1967-1980, having three children together: Marlon, Angela, and Tara (who died of pneumonia at 10 weeks). Both Richards and Pallenberg struggled with heroin addiction in the 70s, nearly going to jail in Toronto.
She had quite a life as a model, actress, designer, and artist. Check her out here.
She is survived by Marlon, Angela, and five grandchildren (Ella, Orson, Ida, Ava, and Otto).
Let me take you back to the very first ever SLCR, Great Big Sea on October 9, 1996.
The lead singer was in fine form, carrying on a running conversation with the audience. “Did anyone see us at the MuchMusic Video Awards? (crowd cheers) What a great party. Alanis was there. (crowd boos) And Bryan Adams opened the show, then we played. You know what that means? Bryan Adams opened for us! (crowd cheers) We said, ‘Hey Bryan, anytime you want to open for us again, you’re more than welcome.’ And you know what? He was playing in the parking lot, we were in the studio, so we told the guys, ‘You know, we’re not that big, you coulda let the poor bugger in to meet us.’ Ah, Bryan Adams. Keep an eye out for that kid, I think he’s got a real future in this business.”
Finally, I could see if he lived up to the buzz!
I suppose it’s a little surprising that I’ve gone to lots of concerts in the past 20 years and have been a Canadian for all 40 of my years but have never seen Bryan Adams in concert before. There’s a long, drawn-out reason for that: I didn’t care to. I mean, Bryan Adams is fine, some of his songs are good, some of them are kinda dumb. He’s played here before since I’ve lived here. Saskatoon too. I just never bothered to go see him.
When Adams was announced as the headliner for the first-ever concert in our shiny new football stadium, it seemed like a decent enough choice. He’s been a big star forever, and though I always thought of him as more of an arena-level guy and not a stadium-level guy, that actually worked here. Though the event was called “Regina Rocks” in marketing, it was called “Test Event 2” on volunteers’ badges (the stadium doesn’t officially open until July 1, and there was a college football game last fall). Probably good to start with Bryan Adams before you bring in someone who can sell out a stadium in an hour.
It didn’t seem like tickets for this event sold as well as they organizers were hoping. It was a triple bill with Adams, Our Lady Peace, and country singer Johnny Reid. They said they’d capped ticket sales at 70% of capacity, and it looked like they’d sold about 70% of that. They gave the final number at somewhere around 21,000 people.
When the show was announced, Mika seemed really excited to go despite not caring about Adams or knowing anything about Reid. And while we were both Our Lady Peace fans back in the day (they were huge here while I was in university), she’d never expressed an interest in going when they’d played here before. I think it was just hype for the first concert at the new stadium, and not wanting to buy pricey tickets, I… didn’t. The hype faded and we largely forgot about going.
But that hype. I buy into it too, right? In the week before the show, I checked my work’s intranet and discovered a passcode that would let me get discount tickets. And I like concerts. And I like Our Lady Peace well enough, and Adams is a legendary Canadian musician, so why not? I texted Mika, who opted against going. Too busy with school. So I didn’t get tickets. And I was actually a little bit disappointed.
About two hours later, my dad texted me to let me know he’d got free tickets from a supplier of his, and did I want them? I did indeed, and for free, Mika would make time to go too. Lesson learned: never pay for anything.
My dad and I then had a series of texts back and forth over several days (not an exaggeration) wherein I tried to determine how many free tickets there actually were. I had assumed all along that I was getting two, but didn’t want to pick the tickets up and find out there were more when it would be too late to invite others. I think my dad thought that I was disappointed in getting only two, which I wasn’t, and then it sounded like I wasn’t getting tickets at all, and I don’t know why this was so hard. They need to invent something like texting except where you can just talk to the other person.
The new stadium has many amenities but one of them is not parking. As in, it has none. They want people to take the bus, and when we’d gone to football games at the old stadium, we’d done that a few times. So fine. Concert’s at 6:00. We get to the nearby mall at 5:00… and there are HUNDREDS of people in line. Shit. We park the car on the complete opposite side of the mall because the parking lot is packed, and make our way over to the line. Things are not looking good. A bus was taking people away when we got there, and by the time we were in line, a new bus had arrived. Okay. This is manageable. Some lady walked by and said that busses (buses? I never know) were coming every 5 minutes. I can live with this. Then we go 15 minutes without a bus. Shit. Again.
I’m sure it’s super enthralling to read someone describing waiting for a bus so let’s skip to the end – it took over an hour to get on a bus and by the time we got to the stadium, Our Lady Peace was 20 minutes into their set already. I get that this was a “test event” and that there were kinks to work out, but this should not be one of them. You had stadium buses before. You need more now since there’s less parking. Pretty simple.
I’d be more upset – and was at the time – but Our Lady Peace is coming back in less than 3 months to open for Guns N’ Roses in the stadium and we’re going to that, so whatever. We’ll see them again. As long as we get on a bus three hours early.
Back to the event at hand. There was a lady on the bus wearing a pink ballcap that she had adorned with plain white stickers – like the kind you might use to print address labels, maybe – upon which she’d handwritten BRYAN ADAMS ROCKS! with a Sharpie. This lady filled me with so much hope. Hope that Bryan Adams would rock.
Luckily, the bus stop at the stadium was right by our gate, so we were inside in no time. We could hear OLP playing Innocent as we walked up. Our seats were on the lower level, near the back. Far enough away that we were mostly watching the big screens. The seats at the new stadium are a massive improvement over the old ones. One of my dad’s coworkers and his wife got tickets too, and they were in their seats already when we got there. We said hi but didn’t really get to chat much throughout the evening. Music is loud. And also we don’t really know each other, so y’know.
I had read an interview with Raine Maida before the show where he said he was looking forward to testing out some new material, and I was all like …my dude. You have a 45-minute set and you’re not the headliner. Play all hits all the time. Ultimately, we got a mix of songs I knew and ones I didn’t; I don’t know how many were truly new, as I mostly only know the singles and the first couple albums. Looking up their setlist online, I see we missed Naveed and Superman’s Dead, which is disappointing. I had hopes for One Man Army, and they didn’t play that one. But there were some that I knew well, including Is Anybody Home, Clumsy, In Repair, and Starseed. Maida also sang part of Grace, Too by the Tragically Hip, which got a nice reaction. I still hope the Hip will get to play the new stadium someday.
The sound for OLP was good but seemed to be having a few issues; it wouldn’t cut out, but the volume really fluctuated at times. Mika thought the wind might have had something to do with it. I thought the issue got better as the night went on but I heard people say the same thing about Adams’ set later and I didn’t notice it at all then, so maybe it was environmental and based on where you were sitting.
There was a quick switchover before Johnny Reid played. I knew nothing about him, and I thought I knew none of his songs until he played Fire It Up – and even then, I only know the part that goes “fiiiiire it up.” This was a pretty well-executed thing that wasn’t entirely my thing. I like piano. I like fiddle. Reid seems like a good dude. This was enjoyable enough but I still found myself getting distracted for long stretches.
At some point during the set, Mika left to go to the washroom. I didn’t ask about lines but she was gone for quite a while, and when she got back, said that the lines for food (and even for 50/50 tickets) were too long to even consider getting anything. More on this later.
During the switchover to Bryan Adams, they put a still image up on the big screen, the cover of Adams’ newest album, Get Up. It’s just him standing there with a model standing behind him with both her hands on his face. Or at least I assumed it was a still image – at one point, a cellphone rang and Adams pulled his phone out, turned it off, put it away, and went back to the same image as before. A cute visual and also a clever way to get people back to their seats before the show, as it essentially served as the five-minute warning. A few more minutes of the picture and suddenly Adams lunged forward and roared, and the real Bryan Adams and his band sprinted onto the stage.
Adams was interviewed by the local newspaper before the show. One question asked that because Adams has so many hits, how does he decide which ones to play? He said “that’s easy – we play them all!” I can now confirm that this is true. Bryan Adams has a million hit singles and he played pretty much every one. At several points, Mika said “what could be left beyond Cuts Like a Knife” and then he’d play three more songs that we knew. By the end, I was actually expecting him to sing his unfortunate but hilarious holiday song Reggae Christmas because there really couldn’t be anything left. Dude has so many hits that when he played Summer of ’69 about halfway into the set, I thought it was a really weird choice – OBVIOUSLY you close with Summer of ’69 – but by the end it didn’t even register. So many hits. Older songs. Newer songs. If you like a Bryan Adams song, he played it.
I mentioned that I’m not a huge Bryan Adams fan. I am here to tell you that such people do exist, and they exist by the thousands. This was really noticeable about a half-dozen songs in, when he played Heaven, the first ballad of the night. Thousands of people held their cellphones high since nobody has lighters anymore. And EVERYONE sang along. I mean, I didn’t, but was surprised to realize that, yeah, I could have. And then there was a whole lot of applause from the section to my left because someone had gotten engaged mid-song. My goodness.
For the first two bands, the big screens gave a nice view of the show. Adams used the screens to show footage from music videos, as well as to show live footage with effects applied. It made for a much flashier presentation, but being so far back, it made actually a little more difficult to actually see the show, so there was a bit of a tradeoff there. Not one I minded, since it was a nice change of pace from earlier.
All told… I don’t know? The sound was good for his set and the crowd was really into it up until close to the end. It was a perfectly fine show for the nothing that we paid for the tickets. I didn’t go into the show as a huge Bryan Adams fan and that hasn’t really changed. It was pretty telling, though, just to see how many songs of his I knew. And not “oh yeah, I think I’ve heard this one before,” but ones where somehow I knew every word. It’s not like I ever doubted he was a star, but I didn’t really have a sense of just how big he’d been for how long until you string together one huge hit after another like that. So even if I’m not walking away as some Bryan Adams superfan, I definitely have a newfound respect for the guy and his career. And even my least favourite of his songs was made better by making jokes about it that were so dirty that I have been forbidden from including them here. Sorry, but if it’s any comfort, I’ll be as left out as you when I re-read this in five years.
One unfortunate side effect of the earlier transit issues was that it seemed people were leaving in droves towards the end and especially during the encore. I suspect a lot of this was people not wanting to wait hours to get home. We stayed until the very end and it almost felt anticlimactic – Adams ended the encore on a solo acoustic performance of All for Love. I said he played every hit, but he did skip There Will Never Be Another Tonight. It felt like – and I could be entirely wrong here – that one gets saved for if the fans want a second encore. In this case, however, they did not. He finished All for Love and there was barely even any applause, just a stampede to the exit.
Leaving, the good news was that we were close to the pickup point for the buses. The line was still ridiculous, however, and there was nobody from the stadium or the bus system to help people figure out where they needed to be. There was some confusion and some line-cutting, but whatever. They did a good job of quickly filling up buses and shipping people out of there, so I can’t complain about that. The thousands of people still in line behind us, however, might tell a different story.
On the ride back to the mall, we overheard some people talking about concessions running out of food and water around 7:00 – and this was now 11:45. Because it was a test event, I know they didn’t have all the concessions running, but still, they clearly have some bugs to work out. I chose wisely when I didn’t try to get food there or I would have wound up pretty cross. Instead, I picked up a poutine burger at midnight on the way home from the bus dropoff point, which is its own unique brand of questionable decision making.
• Amanda Marshall w/The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer (June 23)
• Hawksley Workman (June 24)
• Son of Dave (also June 24)
• Serena Ryder (June 25)
• Beck (August 20)
• kd lang (August 26)
• Guns N’ Roses w/Our Lady Peace (August 27)
• The Sadies (September 14)
• The New Pornographers w/Born Ruffians (October 6)
• Whitehorse w/Terra Lightfoot (October 13)
• Martha Wainwright (October 22)
Go get a coffee and something tasty to munch on. This one’s a big one (that’s what she said)! Seriously, you may have to read this in chunks, over the course of the coming week…
My last All The Everything post was waaaay back on May 24. That’s 19 days ago! Sure, I’ve been putting up posts here and there, like my awesome experience with Manipulant (thanks again!), and Mike’s #0word challenge, among others, in the interim. You’ve been here, reading, so you know already. And thanks for that!
But I’ve also been sick with this cold that’s been going around. I’m into week two now, and showing no signs of abating. Alas, this means I haven’t always felt like listening to music. But I’ve soldiered on, because the KMA always brings you the truth from the front lines.
This next band has required a heap of listening, over the past couple of weeks. It’s been fucking glorious…
AC/DC: A LOVE LETTER
Ultimately, this was an easy post to put together (though it’s taken ages, in bits and pieces). I mean, it’s fucking AC/DC! Just go with the primal, lizard brain response that that name evokes for you, and you’re there!
Over the years, I have already written up most of what I own, so I’ve provided handy links to those reviews. I’m not gonna change a damn thing about them. I hope you’ll take a moment to read back on the records that interest you.
I also had a blast going back through all my old reviews because it’s brilliant how many of these CDs have been gifted to me by Brother HMO (*), and by Brother Lebrain(^)! COMMUNITY! Thanks so much, you guys, you’ve really built up my collection!
There are a couple albums that I hadn’t yet covered in these pages, so I’ll get to them too (below). Already-posted reviews are in blue (with links). New writing for this post are marked in red, with accompanying review! I’ve placed it all in chronological order of the discography, because the KMA loves you.
Oh, and spoiler alert: These are all Hits, in the Hit It Or Quit It portion. I put this off the top so I don’t have to write it every damn record. I’m keeping them all. Of course.
ARE YOU READY? Damn right you are. Let’s get it.
1985 – Fly On The Wall (cs)
Maybe it’s just my cassette copy, or did this record have some sound issues? It’s not a worry, there’s something charming about hearing it rough and a wee bit sketchy like this, as though it were some sort of bootleg or something.
Side A kicks off with Fly On The Wall, pure AC/DC mission control, rev and go, baby! Shake Your Foundations brings the blues rock straight to your brain and it’s beautiful. First Blood has another one of those idelible AC/DC riffs that is so quintessentially them, you can’t help but be lifted. Danger is one of those slow, slinky swanky swaggering tracks they do so well. Oh man. Yes! Sink The Pink is one I knew already, great build, great pay off. Classic!
Side B starts with Playing With Girls rocks a great long intro, straight up barroom blues fightin’ music! That guitar bit in the chorus kinda reminds of G’n’R… Stand Up brings the ZZ blues to AC/DC land and it’s awesome. Great track for punching the sky with your fist! Hell Or High Water has the vocals buried way in the back (moreso than some others here), but that’s cool. Just another instrument in the melee. The tracks another template AC/DC rocker and I dig it… Back In Business is more ZZ blues, and I love it. Maybe one of my favourite tracks on this record! This is not a deep cut, but it’s buried like it is. Weird. And finally, Send For The Man takes out on a blissful rockin’ riff and oh man.
In Sum: Freaking great, this album’s a goddamn barroom brawl. I want a CD copy to replace this cassette I have here.
1986 – Who Made Who (cd)
This was a soundtrack for Stephen King’s Maximum Overdrive. Cool. New track (at the time) Who Made Who starts us off with that (now) iconic riff and away we go! I love it when the bass keeps dropping. Visceral. You Shook Me All Night Long is one we all know well, and it’s still hotness. D.T. is another new track, an instrumental. Cool to hear them go for something without vocals – and of course it’s strong blues rock. My ear kept waiting for Brian Johnson to start screeching at any moment… There’s a neat little, quieter, throbbing outro too. Sink The Pink is from Fly On The Wall, while Ride On is the only Bon Scott track here, a slow blues pulsing masterpiece from (the excellent) Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap album.
Hells Bells, of course, is from Back In Black, and it’s killer. Shake Your Foundations is also from Fly On The Wall. Chase The Ace is another new instrumental, and it’s another full-on AC/DC rocker. Hells yes! For Those About To Rock (We Salute You) is the titular track from that album, of course, and it’s friggin’ glory.
In Sum: A semi-weird little compilation of new stuff, old stuff, and one track from the even older stuff. I haven’t seen Maximum Overdrive in years, but I assume this collection of songs fits the show and that’s why they’re here. Rawk!
1992 – AC/DC Live (2cd)
I owned this 2CD set ages ago, but I don’t know what happened to that copy. It’s possible I sold it off, but that would have been silly of me. Anyway, I looked to replace it and only ever saw the 1CD edition. This 2CD copy I have now came to me at work before I even started working there, and of course it followed me home.
I have a soft spot for this album, as it covers so many of the songs we all know and love. More than that, it fucking rocks. What a great live sound! Recorded at Glasgow, Edmonton, Birmingham, Donington and Moscow shows on the Razor’s Edge tour, this master blaster has a companion DVD, Live At Donington (see below DVD section). Some overdubs were done afterwards, but who cares? Check this out:
CD1: Thunderstruck / Shoot To Thrill / Back In Black / Sin City / Who Made Who / Heatseeker / Fire Your Guns / Jailbreak / The Jack / The Razor’s Edge / Dirty Deeds Done Cheap / Moneytalks
CD2: Hells Bells / Are You Ready / That’s The Way I Wanna Rock ’n’ Roll / High Voltage / You Shook Me All Night Long / Whole Lotta Rosie / Let There Be Rock / Bonny / Highway To Hell / T.N.T. / For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)
In Sum: I mean, holy shit. At this point, it’s like they’re showing off. WOOOOO!!!
1995 – Ballbreaker (cd)
Learned that this album saw the return of Phil Rudd (to Chris Slade’s chagrin), and it’s the only full album album (to date) recorded with Rick Rubin. He had previously worked on Big Gun, from the Last Action Hero soundtrack. Well then! Hard As A Rock is the single, and it’s pure AC/DC beauty. All the elements are here, and I always thought that noodly guitar riff line could’ve been done on bagpipes. They’re no strangers to those, right? Right! Cover You In Oil, the album’s third single, is a fun jaunty blues rocker at mid-pace. The Furor keeps that pace alive and is a decent track with some cool chord changes. Actually it represents a bit of a change in their sound (though not completely), and I dig it!
Boogie Man is pure blues growler, so much fun. Honey Roll is playful and built on another of those damn fine AC/DC riffs. Burnin’ Alive builds into another slinky rocker, hot damn they’re owning it again, with this record. Hail Caesar was the second single, and I swear it’s another killer. How do these guys do this? Cool. Love Bomb brings the stomp and is another one you could swear you’d heard before from these guys, but you haven’t! Magic! Caught With Your Pants Down has this great stop/start thing in the intro, then builds into this freakin’ fantastic guitar-run riff that chugs along, absolutely smokin’. Seriously, this is one of the best tracks on the record. How the hell was it not a single?!?! Whiskey On The Rocks teases a bunch of cool ideas before settling into a satisfying slow thumper that totally gets the job done. And finally, the title track, Ball Breaker takes out on another huge rocker that would absolutely own live.
In Sum: I’m no expert, but after all those years passed these guys hadn’t lost a step. This was a great record. Huge in sound, primal in execution. Turn it the hell up!!!
Live At Donington
Recorded live at Castle Donington 1991-08-17, this is the companion DVD to the AC/DC Live set (see above review), as I mentioned earlier. Huge crowd, huge energy, steallar performances… a band at the top of their game. Truly a pleasure to watch! It felt like I was there!
This disc has a different track list than my 2CD set:
Thunderstruck / Shoot To Thrill / Back In Black / Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be / Heatseeker / Fire Your Guns / Jailbreak / The Jack / Dirt Deeds Done Dirt Cheap / Moneytalks / Hells Bells / High Voltage / Whole Lotta Rosie / You Shook Me All Night Long / T.N.T. / Let There Be Rock / Highway To Hell / For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)
I had a quick look online, and the 1CD version of the CD is even different from this DVD setlist. Good luck keeping it all straight!
Still, this DVD has a helluva setlist, even if a ton of songs got left off from the 2CD set. The DVD also has lots of sound options, a new transfer, video band member selections for some songs, commentary from Angus and Malcolm, and a discography.
Fine evening viewing for the whole family!
The Ones I Still Need:
I still need a few more main ones on CD (shown above)…
1978 – Powerage
1983 – Flick Of The Switch
1984 – ’74 Jailbreak EP
1985 – Fly On The Wall (replace cs with cd)
1988 – Blow Up Your Video
2014 – Rock Or Bust
And then of course, still to get, there are the boxed sets, like Backtracks and Bonfire… and more DVDs… and so many singles… and so many books about them…
Still, I think have a pretty good start to the collection here, eh? Yessir!
A LOVE LETTER TO AC/DC – IN SUM:
First off, thanks so much to all of you, Dear KMA Readers, for reading any or all of this. It’s a lot, I know. It’s why it took me so long to get this posted, though, as there was just so much to get through, and I insist on listening back to everything I have here even if I’ve already reviewed it before. That’s the level of my commitment to this project – I will hear every record in the house, either for the first time or the millionth!
As for AC/DC… Fuckin’ A. Man, this is a band we all love, and for damn good reasons. This immersion into their work, for the past couple of weeks, has been so much fun. Right on. LET’S GO!
I hereby accept Mike‘s #0wordchallenge.
I’ve known my lovely wife for what seems like forever (37 of our 43 years). Together 19 years, married 14… she’s put up with a lot from me, by now! I always joke it’s Stockholm Syndrome, at this point…
Most of what she endures is my rattling on about this band or that, this version of a song versus another, or where I was when I first heard something. Mostly, she listens in good humour, but when her eyes start to glass over, I know I’m maybe offering too many minute details… Oh, and she absolutely, categorically and completely refuses to play name that tune with me.
During our road trip to African Lion Safari and the butterfly conservatory last weekend, we had lots of time in the car. We discussed many things and a good time was had. Our daughter got to hear both her favourite Jake Bugg albums, and our son discovered that he really likes Crowded House. Right on.
Somehow, the Beatles came up in the course of our rambling, far-flung conversation. Probably because I’ve been seeing Sgt. Pepper reviews and Beatles talk in the blogs. It’s fairly well-known by now that I’m not the world’s biggest Beatles fan. I grew up on them, and burned out on them at a fairly young age. While I respect them and appreciate some (not all) of what they did, I don’t get all twitterpated about them being the world’s best whatever.
My lovely wife braced herself for my usual rant about them, but I wasn’t in the mood for that and, in fact, even mentioned a few of their songs that I like. As I listed a few off, she stopped me and said, “you know, we talk about the Beatles now and again, and whenever you mention songs that you like, they add up and I realize: you don’t like the Beatles, you like George Harrison!” It was true. I hadn’t even realized, but every song I was listing off was written by George.
Fair enough. And thanks to my lovely wife for this brilliant insight…
Ages ago, we had a Music World in our shite little mall. They closed and I panicked. Then HMV took over and I felt better. As you all know, HMV closed out, and I panicked. But then Sunrise Records took over some of HMV’s spots and, when I found out we were getting one, I felt better. Apparently, these comings and goings are a bit of a rollercoaster for me. In my defense, if we didn’t have a corporate store like this, we’d be stuck with Wal-Mart and that one used shoppe downtown that, well, anyway.
Yesterday I spent about twenty minutes perusing our new Sunrise records. Apparently the shoppe’s already been open for about a week, but I just haven’t had time to get there before this. I wanted to see what was up.
It’s music store ver.3 in my town!
Some First Impressions:
– it really hasn’t changed all that much in appearance (yet, they may change more with time). Pretty sure they just re-used all the old HMV CD bins and everything.
– both staff members I saw working were from the old HMV, so at least a couple of the HMV staffers applied and got the new (old) job with Sunrise.
– I was approached by one staffer to see if I needed help, and I did – I’d looked and did not see the new Solstafir set. I’d have bought it if they had it. Not only had she never heard of them, they didn’t have a section for them in the shelves, and the deluxe wasn’t on their tiny end cap of boxed sets either. It didn’t seem likely they would be getting it either, so I guess it’s the Amazons for me, on that one.
– there are WAY more CDs than HMV ever had. This is awesome. The entire row that used to be DVD and Blu-ray in the HMV are now all CDs as well. This makes me incredibly happy. They do still have movies, at the back of the store, but music is clearly the focal point. Yay!
– CD prices seemed to be OK, maybe a wee bit higher (by $1-$2) than HMV would have done, but I’ve no way of proving that.
– they had a $5.99 CD wall, but it was all those ICON hits set CDs. Meh. Will see if they change things up, but if not I’ll miss HMV’s 2-for-$10 and 2-for-$20 sales racks.
– the LP section is much expanded, and moved front and center by the entrance, so the hipsters can’t miss it. I found most priced too high (like all places), but it’s nice to see them offering the hipsters of my town a new copy of OK Computer for $45.99 (it can be had for $30 online, shipping included). Some of the vinyls were better-priced, around $20-25, but I’d need more time to really dig.
– Punk and metal, in both CD and LP sections, are mixed into one category. Which means it’s possible that Gojira and Green Day might sit side by side in the bin. That’s OK, I guess, but a bit weird.
– There was no Guided By Voices section. While I am not surprised, this is still an oversiiiiight.
– Just testing things out, I looked for myself, then asked and… it turns out they did not have the new Kendrick Lamar album, called DAMN. (on CD or LP). This is quite weird, as it’s a huge record right now. The staffer said they may get it in soon, as their stock is still coming. They’d better!
– I found the 16’ of shelving for board games, and the entire wall of t-shirts (not to mention the other section full of crap tchotchkes, just like HMV had), to be a bit much, but after texting this to James he said (and he’s right) that no store can make it on music alone, anymore. Still, are board games that popular? Is this the new thing that hipsters will want so they can leave our LPs the hell alone? Do we need that many Ramones t-shirts? Hm. Maybe on that last point, we do…
– I didn’t see video games, but I wasn’t looking for them as I don’t play them. I assume they were at the back of the store, with the movies. Not a huge footprint for them, anyway.
It’s nice to have another record shoppe in town. Panic averted! I didn’t buy anything today, but I’m sure I will at some point. With only 20 minutes in the shoppe, I don’t feel I really had time to get to know it, but my first impressions are, by my gut feel, that it’s gonna do alright. I’m super-thrilled with how many more CDs they offer over the (in comparison) pathetic wee patch that HMV offered. Yes indeed, that’s great.
Alright Sunrise, time to make a go of it. Drop your LP prices and increase your sales, and you’ll have reason to stay!
A long while back Mike, among others, started featuring funny search terms that led people to his site. I was wondering about the KMA’s input, so while I was jamming some tunes recently, I dug around in the site info for the KMA, for all of 2017 thus far.
Honestly, we don’t get that many funny or weird searches. Nothing too sexual or crazy, though I did find a few that are interesting:
burm me alive wordpress
“burm?” I don’t know what that means. Burn me alive? Haha no thank you!
akai dialer silip
kalyln pear no go haste.com mp3
I see James’ last name (misspelled), but what that has to do with pears or ‘no go haste’ I have no idea.
he make accidental physical contact
I assume this resulted after my old post about accidentally ( I swear!) bodychecking Moe Berg and Liona Boyd (on seperate occasions, mind you). But that’s a random thing to be searching (who elese has bodychecked Ms. Boyd?). However they ended up on this site, I am sorry to whomever had to Google this in their life.
“jon spencer” “masturbation”
Um, moving on…
“it suits the movie”
Does it? Does it really? And how did this lead you to our music blog?
saxytime tables name s
I may not know everything, but I know for sure that the times tables are saxy. Or maybe they meant saxytimes on tables?
bedlam, early 1990s rock band from nashville, released on mca records, fronted by jay joyce
I didn’t believe we’d ever covered a band called Bedlam or a person named Jay Joyce, but I was wrong. During the Film Soundtrack Festival of November 2016, I covered the Reservoir Dogs OMPS, and these both get mentioned in a footnote. I’d plain forgotten.
Um… Slayer sex? Is that what you were going for? Because nothing says sexy ties like South Of Heaven, if you know what I mean…
sexy fb album title
I did do a post about sexy album titles (I think?), but I have no idea what Facebook has to do with it. I don’t have a Facebook and I never will.
is natalie merchant with 10,000 at city winery on 5/25
I don’t know. Was she?
Well, there’s a few odd little searches that (apparently) led folks to our site. Nothing rude or sexual or genuinely crazy like those other guys sometimes get. Still, we thank the folks who wound up on our site for visiting us, even if it was inadvertent. And we hope they found what they were looking for, eventually.
Whenever I’m in Taranna, I always grab a copy of Now and Exclaim! for my lovely wife. She likes to read about what’s going on/coming up in the city.
I was flipping through the copy of Now I’d picked up for her on our trip last weekend, and I learned that Freddy Pompeii of the Viletones had died on May 13, at the age of 70, of lung cancer.
Since starting this blog over ten years ago (oh god we’re old), we’ve always said that if anyone has their own music they want heard to please send it to us and we’ll gladly review it. Over these years, a few people have indeed taken us up on our offer. We love when this happens!
Manipulant found the KMA through Stoneygate, and wondered if I’d like to hear his new record. Of course I would! He also graciously agreed to answer a few of my questions, interview-style, which was very brave as I’m not the world’s best interviewer. Anyway.
This post will be made up of three parts: I: my review, II: an interview with Manipulant, and III: Manipulant’s EPK info and site links.
Disclaimer: This sort of music is not my usual wheelhouse, so listening here takes this old dog outside my already fairly broad comfort zone and that’s fantastic. Challenge me! Others, more knowledgeable than me, would write more eloquent things about this than I can. I’m just going to go from my gut and give impressions of what I hear.
PART I: AARON’S REVIEW
Run (f. Stoneygate) is such a restless track, with a cool 60s spy music feel but then this atmospheric, electronic stuff going on in the background, and with those occasional drum crashes too. Stoneygate’s vocals soar throughout, a perfect fit to this fascinating track. I loved it. Methodical thumps like Nine Inch Nails met Pet Shop Boys in the club, while the vocals come from the side, almost an afterthought, an echo as addition to the music, not overbearing at all.
Dr. Terenzi, I Need Your Expertise (f. Fiorella Terenzi) is a wee bit menacing, with distorted music and occasional vocals over a buzzsaw sound. We’ve entered the land of disorientation, a perfect soundtrack to that dream you can’t quite remember in the morning, though the edges of it nag at you all day. Marshmallow Fabrik’s bass throb with skittering overtop is utterly hypnotizing, perfect for the next club mix.
Faulty Tap is a brief half-minute intermission, some miltary-style drumming with almost a dripping sound added in, but we quickly move into jusq’à la mort nous sépare* (The Organist), which lifts us back up with that same skittering beat and some lovely organ notes held and soul-reviving. There’s real beauty here, even though he says, at one point, “I’m worried, I have a bad feeling about this” and other things besides in echoing vocals to offset it all. [* translates roughly as ‘until death separates us’ or until death us do part.]
Requiem for 11th Earl Of Sandwich is another brief intermission, only a minute long, with a repeated musical line. Add in clicks and thumps and the atmosphere is definitely a wee bit creepy. But it’s a segue into N/A/B/C/F, an instrumental which brings synths and piano to the fore in one of my favourite tracks on the record. It’s almost as though it’s set to a ticking watch, and while one restlessly hammers out notes, the other holds long and sweet. When the piano goes solo, I’m held completely. This one has lift and hope. Beauty.
And finally, Doctor Terenzi Meets 808 (f. Fiorella Terenzi) brings back the atmosphere and throbbing bottom end, as well as the buzzing sounds and the play with volume up and down to match the beats. “… you are listening to real sounds, scientific sound space…” seems apt to me! He’s calling for Dr. Terenzi, he needs her expertise, but this track has been compiled by an expert already! When the track (and thus, the album) stops abruptly, your ear wants more, so much more.
I said in my disclaimer off the top that this is not my usual type of music. However, I know brilliance when I hear it, and the dark corners and hypnotic lulling of this effort are perfectly done. There’s an energy throughout, a real, thoughtful control, and fearless execution at every turn. Despite things being bleak sometimes, there’s hope, and in this way it is perfect for our times. A truly impressive, packed 27 minutes of music, and an album to which I will return because it will reveal more and more with each subsequent listen.
I thoroughly enjoyed Eclectro. Thank you so much, Manipulant, for this opportunity to hear your work!
PART II: THE INTERVIEW
[NB: For this reading, Manipulant is “M” and Aaron is “A.”]
A: You found this site through (the awesome) Stoneygate. How did your collaboration with her on this record come about?
M: You are correct, Stoneygate is awesome. She actually found me. I had a song featured on Radiocoolio out of Toronto. They do a fantastic job of giving exposure to some really excellent artists. Stoneygate heard me on the show and dropped me a message. I did a little stalking and found her stuff on the web and although our styles are completely different I felt her vocal would be a good fit on “Run” I think it creates a nice contrast.
A: How did you reconcile the (rather bleak) social commentary lyrics with such fun musical work on Run?
M: I think Stoneygate described the music as menacing when she first heard it. That really was what I was trying to accomplish with it. Something dark and driving. It needed to try to capture the mood I was seeing around me in the aftermath of the U.S. elections and some of the chaos that was happening elsewhere in the world.
A: Your EPK info indicates that Dr. Fiorella Terenzi is an Italian astrophysicist, which makes this a unique collaboration indeed. Tell us how you came to work with her?
M: Pure luck. I was familiar with her “Music From the Galaxies” album released on Island Records some years ago and a song I was working on reminded me of her Acoustic Astronomy recordings that came from her research. Really fascinating stuff, look her up. Anyway, I sent her a copy of what I was working on and she loved it. She asked if she could get involved with the project and I of course agreed immediately. Now I’m the only person I know with an astrophysicist in their rolodex.
A: From this album I hear worry and fear about society at large, but also hope and beauty. Can you tell us a little bit about the album’s concept?
M: It all evolved from Run. It can be difficult to maintain a theme throughout an album but I had several bits of things I had been working on at different times that all seemed to fit together. I don’t typically delve into social issues in my songwriting but I guess at the time it was something I felt appropriate.
A: Are the interludes (Faulty Tap and Requiem For 11th Earl Of Sandwich) mere segues, or do their brief moments carry heavier burdens, telling stories and shifting moods in little time?
M: Ah, now we are getting deep. Tap was an extension of the frustration of Run put into something as simple and maddening as a leaky faucet. Earl is kind of a death a civility thing. So yes, they do contribute to the feel of the album in the form of a brief moment.
A: I looked up the 11th Earl Of Sandwich, John Montagu. Can you explain why he was chosen to be titular to your track?
M: It wasn’t the man in particular, it was more of an example of civility. It could be a bit of a reach but when I think of civility I imagine Nobility. I hope he doesn’t become angry with me.
A: What does N/A/B/C/F mean? It’s one of my favourite tracks on the record, so I’m curious.
M: N/A/B/C/F is Not All Birds Can Fly. Originally released on (Manipulant’s 2016′ album) Méthode de Narration. This version took a different approach with different instrumentation so I gave it a different name – sort of.
A: Your EPK mentions Kraftwerk as an inspiration in Marshmallow Fabrik. Who are a few of the other artists you admire as being able to drive you towards your own creations?
M: I feel like I should explain Fabrik first. I think many of us carry on as if we are living in a marshmallow factory. Everything is in order and it’s all fluffy and delicious. We don’t focus on things outside of our own space. We continue on with blinders as long as our personal factories keep producing things that make us happy.
Kraftwerk are a big influence for anyone that ever touched a $25 Casio. Until Fabrik I never really noticed a defined influence on my work but it has always been there. New Order, the Fall, Legendary Pink Dots, Tom Waits, many others.
A: I read that this is your second record, 2016’s Méthode de Narration being your first. Not having heard Méthode myself, can you describe for us how Eclectro works beside Méthode, in what ways they’re similar or different? Does this second effort continue the first, or move in its own direction?
M: MdN was more of a feeling out process. Like what can I do by myself with a keyboard. It actually had a good amount of guitars and live percussion but it was certainly a step in cutting the cord which I did completely with Eclectro.
As for the songs themselves, they are mostly just stories of things. No real depth or theme.
So it is less of a continuation and more of an evolution.
A: Who is The Organist? Another player, an alter-ego, a character you made up?
M: The Organist is based entirely on a real person. In fact, most of the lyrics are actual quotes as the police led him away.
A: Anything else at all you’d like to add for our Dear Readers?
M: Don’t work in a marshmallow factory.
My huge thanks to Manipulant for agreeing to this interview, and for these excellent answers!
PART III: EPK INFO, ALBUM CREDITS AND INFO, AND SITE LINKS
“The second Manipulant release mostly adheres to the blueprint of 2016’s Méthode de Narration. The hypnotic rhythms, dark tones and vivid imagery are all present in “Eclectro” due 6.20.17. This time though, he brings along some help. Italian Astrophysicist Dr. Fiorella Terenzi and England’s chilled trip-hop siren Stoneygate both join in with sterling contributions. The latter in the driving social commentary of “Run” and Dr. Terenzi, the Goddess of Acoustic Astronomy, vocal bombs her own tribute song in “Dr. Terenzi, I Need Your Expertise”. Additionally, “Methodical” comes dance floor ready, “Marshmallow Fabrik” harkens Kraftwerk and The Organist makes a twisted reappearance. Once again, Manipulant manages to draw the listener inside his head, drag them through his thoughts and drop them into an empty room to contemplate what the hell just happened.”
Track listing; 1. Run (feat. Stoneygate) 2. Methodical 3. Dr. Terenzi, I Need Your Expertise (feat. Fiorella Terenzi) 4. Marshmallow Fabrik 5. Faulty Tap 6. jusqu’à la mort nous sépare (The Organist) 7. Requiem for the 11th Earl of Sandwich 8. N/A/B/C/F 9. Dr. Terenzi Meets the 808 (Feat. Fiorella Terenzi)
Recorded at Le Petit Manoir & Rotten Alex’s Basement. Mastered by Logan Kennedy. Ryan Durborow – Additional Keyboard on Methodical
As I mentioned a couple of times in yesterday’s posts, I could easily have spent a whole lot more in BMV and Sonic Boom than I did. Actually, I feel I showed excellent restraint, even though I still got a pile of great tunes! Man, given unlimited funds, I’d have told them to back up a truck and we could start loading it up…
Anyway, there were too many great records I left behind to list them all, but three come to mind as worthy of mention…
1 – Refused – The Shape Of Punk To Come (2CD/1DVD set), at BMV. It was only $9.99. The second CD was a live set, and the DVD had the videos and a documentary.
But I reasoned that I already own the CD itself, and would I use the other discs that much when it’s the album I really love? I left it, in favour of spending that $10 on other things.
2 – Pavement – Wowee Zowee (original LP), at BMV. It was a new arrival. The guy said it was $25 because it was VG or VG+. Woulda been more if it was in better shape (he said). But there was some wear on the jacket and the LPs were OK but not VG+ in my mind. Still, how often do you see an original Pavement LP? Because I never see them! It was reeeeaaaallllly tempting because I love Pavement so much, but I left it because that was a lot for one LP and not the nicest copy (yet still the only copy I’ve ever seen). You see my dilemma. I texted Mike and he said it’s about that price online but the shipping kills. Gah!
3 – Dillinger Escape Plan – Instrumentalist 7″ (RSD 2017), at Sonic Boom. I didn’t get any RSD stuff this year, and I am a fan of DEP. But apparently not the biggest fan as I had this $12.99 7″ in my hand a while before finally putting it back. It was only two songs, and $6.50 per song is steep when I already had a basket full of other goodies. I dunno, it was real tempting, but how much would I play it? But it’s awesome and collectible… Gah!
A few times today, I feel like I probably shoulda just bought them anyway. I’d have been happy with all of them. And I know that they’ll be looong gone by the time I get back there, likely in the fall, with Mike. Ah well. I’m super-happy with what I did bring home, so these will be the ones that got away!
A successful day in the big (sh)city for me and my Dad! Lots to tell, but it’s late, I did a lot of driving and walking (I’m tired) and there’s work and getting the kids to school in the morning… Still, the least I can do is report back on today’s adventures real quick…
Traffic was non-existant (Mike, our next trip should be on a Sunday!), the weather said rain but we got sunny and warm, and the city was alive with people and festivals and awesome.
Parked up at Bloor, saw that Honest Ed’s is gone. The signs are still there but the store is empty. End of an era. I hit up BMV and Dad went off and did his thing. I could have spent SO much in BMV, it’s crazy. Really quality stock, as always. I was thrilled to see they have turned all their CDs with spines up so you can scan the titles without flipping – an excellent development. I didn’t get a whole of time with the LPs, but they have a ton…
Here are my BMV Scores (all CD):
Soooo much greatness here, eh? Wowzers!
NB: The Iron & Wine, Chuck Brown/Eva Cassidy and Jeff “Tain” Watts came from the 3-for-$10 bin.
NB: I wish Watts had a song called “Bartók” on his Bar Talk album. Alas, he does not. Missed opportunity, that.
Dad and I then met at Paupers for lunch (awesome as always), and walked down through the Annex to Chinatown. Kensington Market was jammed with people, as some sort of Art Festival was going on. The whole area was blocked off to cars, and people were dancing and singing and doing things (one lady was a Poet For Hire. Give her money and a topic, and she would type you out a new poem on the spot on her old Underwood). I hit up Sonic Boom while Dad went off and did his thing.
My Sonic Boom Scores (all CD):
Holy mackerel, what a pile of awesome! And again, as is always the case with Sonic Boom, several of these were either $0.99 or $2.99. And I could have spent soooo much more in there, too. I had a basket full and made myself go through and put stuff back. It was painful.
NB: The Buddy Guy is a high school nostalgia grab for me. I loved that set then, and I bet I will now.
NB: The 10,000 Maniacs was one I said I’d watch for when I put Quit on the three records of theirs I have (during their All The Everything series post, a while back). And here it is! It’s a hits disc and a rarities disc together. Right on.
NB: Granelli is a jazz drummer. DJ Stinkin’ Rich is a Buck 65 alias. Oh baby.
NB: The Evens includes Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat, Fugazi). With my three (3!) Fugazi scores at BMV as well, it was an Ian MacKaye kind of day.
NB: Though it was new CD full price, the Cowboy Junkies had to come home. Check out who guests on it: Skydiggers, Sarah Harmer, Hawksley Workman, Jason Collett, Doug Paisley, Lee Harevy Osmond, The Good Family, Martin Tielli & Dave Clark, The Screwed, Reid Jamieson, Harlan Pepper, Jessy Bell Smith, The Potion Kings, Ivy Mairi… Wow!
NB: The Greg MacPherson… I texted James did he need it, it was only $0.99. Nope, he had it already and likes it alot, said I should get it for myself and if I didn’t like it, he would give me $0.99. Challenge accepted!
NB: The Jam tribute is cool. Yes, it has Oasis twats on it, but it has Beastie Boys too so that makes it all better.
So then we walked back up to the car, blasted out of town. Quick bite to eat in Orangeville (watching some of the Memorial Cup hockey game on TV – Windsor beat Erie 4-3), then home.
And there you have it. A busy day encapsulated in one short-ish post. You’ll see all of these albums in the All The Everything series, eventually. At least now you know from whence they came. Also, sad to report I did not find one single Grail List item for anyone. Sorry, folks. I tried! I really did (the list was in my phone)! Ah well, next time.
Hey Dear Readers, it’s Aaron aka Mr. Books of the KMA…
A quick reminder that it’s early this Sunday morning (two days from today) that I head to Taranna on my (most recent) record shopping excursion. I can’t wait!!
So, knowing this, if you have any changes or additions to make to your Grail List, let us know today or tomorow.
If you don’t have a list and you want one, by all means drop us an email at keepsmealive at gmail dot com. Remember, the Master Grail List exists to share the titles of those special albums you’ve never been able to find, in shoppes or online, at all or at reasonable prices. It allows us all to aid each other by keeping our eyes peeled when we’re in our own neighbourhood shoppes. Never know when someone might walk right past the album you’ve wanted for years! And in case you’re wondering, the list really does work. Since the list’s inception, we’ve had several successes already! GO, KMA READERS, GO!
I don’t know when I first learned that Colter Wall was a musician. It seemed like it just happened one day and suddenly he was everywhere. It was notable around these parts because Wall is the son of our Premier (the equivalent of a Governor for my American pals). This is the kind of thing that probably helped him a lot for a while and may be as much of a hindrance these days. When referencing the concert, I heard “great singer, shame about his dad” more than once.
But whatever. When your dad’s the Premier, that probably opens some doors in Saskatchewan. That doesn’t get you onto Rolling Stone’s list of 10 New Country Artists You Need to Know. It doesn’t get you a touring gig opening for Steve Earle. It doesn’t get Stone Cold Steve Austin and Brock Lesnar discussing how much they love your music on an episode of Austin’s podcast… okay, it probably DOES get you that since Brock lives here now and has met the Premier. But still. That other stuff.
I saw Colter at the folk festival a few years ago. At the time, he wasn’t big enough to merit a main stage spot, playing only a few songs as a teaser between headline acts. If I’m being honest, I thought he seemed a little nervous and I didn’t think that he came across that well. He had definite potential but wasn’t there yet. Since then came all that stuff I listed above. And I listened to his debut EP, Imaginary Appalachia, and it was really good. Dude won me over. This show was the launch party for his (self-titled) first full-length album and I was looking forward to seeing him live again.
On the weekend before the show, Mika fell ill with a cold. “Tell me if you don’t feel like going to Colter Wall and I’ll see if someone else wants to go,” I said on Sunday afternoon. “I’m not going to Colter Wall,” she said at 3:30 am Monday. I appreciated the advance notice, and we were both awake anyway, but it probably could have waited until morning. Anyway, she spent the day home sick and I went to work with a mission to find someone to take this extra ticket off my hands.
Luckily, Jason, a friend from an ungodly long time ago if I stop to think about it, has a blog. And in said blog, he had recently referenced Colter Wall and mentioned he didn’t have plans to go to the show. I checked with him and to my delight, he was in. It was either doors at 7:00, show at 8:00, or 8:00/9:00 depending on where you looked, so we agreed to meet at the Exchange just before 8:00. He got there a few minutes before I did and saw Colter hanging out with friends outside the venue.
Once inside, we got beers. I don’t know from beer so I went with my old standby, Same For Me. Whatever it was, it was good. We took our beers and made our way into the concert hall. It was a sold-out show with very little seating, so we found ourselves a good standing spot. The crowd was an interesting mix of country fans, hipsters, and Sask Party MLAs (and someone who we were pretty sure was Colter’s dad in a leather jacket) – if I ever hung out with people, I’d say this was “not my usual crowd.” I may also have compared it to being on the bridge of the ship in Spaceballs but I said I’d leave my politics out of this.
The opener was John Clay, who played a short acoustic set before returning later in the evening as Wall’s drummer. He played a mix of originals and covers that I didn’t know, encouraging us to check out music by his influences; in particular, the only album ever released by Willis Alan Ramsey. This suffered from the usual curse of nobody paying attention to the opener, but those of us who did got some good tunes. And though he was mostly pretty low-key, there was one point where he really showed off his voice and that got everyone’s attention. Fine stuff.
Wall, on the other hand, isn’t one for vocal showmanship. He has a deep bass baritone that suits his songs well. Not a huge range but he can bring the intensity when required. He was playing with a small band and showed no trace of the nervousness I had seen (or imagined) before. He was calm and confident and came across like a seasoned veteran.
As you’d expect, he played most of the songs from his new album and his EP, which, together, are about long enough to fill out a set. I don’t know how new the new material is – whether this was the first time he played it live here or if it was already familiar to much of the crowd. Everything got a really good reaction but the best was saved for two favourites from the EP – The Devil Wears a Suit and Tie and the last song of the encore, Sleeping on the Blacktop.
It’s hard to reconcile some of Wall’s songs with his upbringing. This likely isn’t an issue for anyone who doesn’t live here and shouldn’t be an issue for me. I mean, I don’t know anything about the guy personally and I know that songwriters don’t have to be autobiographical. But you get to songs like “You Look to Yours” with the line “don’t trust no politicians” and I get distracted, you know? But that shouldn’t matter if the songs are good, and these are, so never mind me.
I feel like I’ve been nitpicky here but this was a really good show. Packed house, hometown (well, homeprovince) crowd, great music. Would go again. Jason made this point but I’ll reiterate it – from all the buzz and the success Wall’s having, this could be the last time we’ll get to see him in a venue this small. And though he’s apparently living in the States now, I suspect he won’t be skipping past Regina on future tours even if he makes it big. So, you know, I’ll gladly take advantage of his connections when they benefit me.
• Bryan Adams w/Our Lady Peace and Johnny Reid (May 27)
• Son of Dave (June 24)
• Serena Ryder (June 25)
• kd lang (August 26)
• Guns N’ Roses (August 27)
• The New Pornographers w/Born Ruffians (October 6)
• Martha Wainwright (October 22)
I’ll just put it out there off the top – I wasn’t an Accept fan back in the day (I was the jazz kid), and I really don’t know much about them now except that they’re a metal band (in my mind from the 80s, though clearly they’re still going). Robert, a buddy of mine in high school likely played them for me at several points but, hanging out with Robert, everything was 80s metal so I maybe didn’t register it properly.
Worse, I bought both cassettes (listed below) at work for $0.50 each and until I got here for this series, I’d not yet played them! Good thing I’m getting to ‘em now, eh?
Also, as is obvious from the dates on these albums I have here (below), there are huge gaps in my Accept collection. In studio albums alone (to date), I am missing 11 records. Not to mention 5 live albums and 7 compilations. I am by no means an expert.
Alright, enough padding this damn post, let’s get into the records:
1983 – Balls To The Wall (cs)
OK, I know the title track here. What a riff! I really like the crunch of this track. Hearing it today reminds me of a weird hybrid of classic Judas Priest, Bon Scott-era AC/DC, and wee bit of Motörhead (when he’s not screaming, he sounds a bit like Lemmy). Not that I’m complaining at all. The album carries on in this vein in its entirety. The riffs are crushing whether the songs are fast or slow, and the songs have just enough without being too much. Better, it transcends its era to achieve a sort of timelessness that is really, really satisfying. Fucking epic, top to bottom. This one was certified Gold for a reason. Definite Hit, though I’ll replace cassette with CD when I can.
1986 – Russian Roulette (cs)
TV War starts us off with a 100 mph blast, whoa! Listening, as I am, on the heels of Balls To The Wall, I hear all the same things all over again and I frickin’ love it. Three years on (this is their 7th record) and Accept is business as usual, and the business of rocking the hell out is damn good. Wiki tells me this was their last album with their singer Udo Dirkschneider for another 7 years…
There’s a swagger to what they do, a bluesy metal stomp that could easily be parody in the hands of lesser bands, but these guys nail it track after track after track. Another Hit, though again I’ll replace cassette with CD when I can. I’d play this one anytime. It’s really quite awesome.
I already wrote this one up (link in album title, above), but of course for this series I had to play it through again. There’s a gap in my Accept collection so huge as to make my perspective all off when it comes to what happened in between. Thank goodness for the internet! As I learned, “It is the band’s first studio recording since 1996’s Predator and the first album to feature vocalist Mark Tornillo and drummer Stefan Schwarzmann. It is the first Accept album without Udo Dirkschneider on vocals since Eat the Heat (1989), and the band’s first album to feature guitarist Herman Frank since Balls to the Wall (1983).”
All that to discover that this is another full-on metal record with not a stinker track to be found. Even though it was recorded in 2010, it could easily fit into the 80s with the other albums I heard before it.
You know, three records into listening to these guys and I’m starting to think they were unable to make a bad track. Statistically, of course, over a career as long as theirs this is nigh on an impossible claim, but all I hear here is beautiful, crisp, clean metal that makes you smile. Definite Hit. Accept is 3/3!
Going into this series, I thought maybe this would be another band for which a compilation would be enough to make me happy. Now, having heard three of their albums (despite being decades apart), I wonder if the albums proper are the way to go, because all three of these are Hits for sure. What say you, Dear Readers? What’s more Acceptable for you, compilation or albums?
News is still coming in as I type this (around midnight last night), but it appears that 19 people are dead and 59 others are injured in Manchester tonight. Police suspect a terrorist attack, which happened at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena.
Two explosions were reported, coming just after Grande’s show had ended.
This news site here seems to be live updating, so by morning there should be more information about this horrible event. My first thought was of the Eagles Of Death Metal concert in France, another event where a bombing took place.
Keep your eyes on your news feeds (or the link above, probably) as more information becomes available.
Our thoughts go out to all Mancunians in this troubling and terrible time.
Growing up, my aunt had a turntable. It played a lot of ABBA, and not just the hits, she played whole albums. Though arguably, they had so many hit songs that some of their records were probably like hits albums anyway… But my sister liked them (and played them often), my Mom, my Grandfather… This is all to say I heard them a lot, whether I wanted to or not.
I often associate ABBA with Elvis and the Beatles. Yes, you could look at it from a sales perspective, or from the angle of fame, but for me it was about burnout. I heard those three so much in my childhood that these days I tend to avoid them simply because I can. I don’t dislike any of them, but I don’t go out of my way to hear them.
Years ago, when my Grandfather died, my Mom gave me his cassette case (which looks like a full-sized faux leather briefcase, you know the kind… and I still have it). It was full of all the music he loved, all of which will appear in this series as I come to them. And, of course, inside this case was his black-covered copy of ABBA Gold.
Being an intrepid KMA reporter, I knew I had to play it in order to write it up for this series. I admit trepidation, because (through no fault of their own) I am still, all these years later, pretty tired of ABBA. But also, playing through it, I had many sweet memories of my Grandfather, as though he were there listening to it with me. I liked that part a lot. I suppose, now, the two are inextricably linked in my mind, though of course he loved many more types of music than just this, too. It’ll probably happen every time I get to a tape that used to be his…
And the contents of this tape? Holy mackerel, what a sea of memories. And all 19 of these tunes are so popular and ubiquitous, I don’t even need to tell you about any of them. Here:
SIDE A: Dancing Queen / Knowing Me, Knowing You / Take A Chance On Me / Mamma Mia / Lay Your Love On Me / Super Trouper / I Have A Dream / The Winner Takes It All / Money, Money, Money
SIDE B: SOS / Chiquita / Fernando / Voulez-Vous / Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) / Does Your Mother Know / One Of Us / The Name Of The Game / Thank You For The Music / Waterloo
See? Every track an ear worm, a generally accepted bona fide huge hit. I’m not arguing that at all. For me, though, I doubt I’ll ever play it again. Generally, that would make it a Quit. But the memories of my Grandfather (because I’m a sentimental old fool) make me want to keep it here just to hold on to that part of him, and since there can be no middle ground, it’s a Hit. I dunno, maybe my Mom would want it back… I wonder if she even has a cassette player anymore…
Hey Dear Readers,
So it’s been busy around here, and I have posts in the works but nothing completed.
To tide you over, here’s some goofy pics a la the old Sunday Service posts of yore.
Enjoy, and stay tuned (pun intended). More All The Everything posts will appear eventually…
Woke this morning to this news. Still processing it…
Chris Cornell, singer from Soundgarden, Temple Of The Dog, Audioslave and solo career has passed away at the age of 52.
At the time of this posting, no cause of death has been given.
R.I.P. Chris. Thank you for the music.
First off, a huge thanks to everyone who entered!
The question was: What is the full running time of Dear Dear?
The answer is: 54:40!
Oh those clever Canucks.
As promised, I placed all correct entrants’ names into a toque (my Rage Against The Machine toque, natch). My lovely wife, a neutral third party, drew the winning name.
The Winner Is: SARCA!
Congratulations, Sarca! Your brand new copy of Dear Dear will be winging its way to you ASAP.
Thanks again, everyone! Keep your eyes peeled for more contests in future…
Special mention goes to Deke, who included the times of all individual tracks on the album with his answer, and then proceeded to jokingly comment the tracks of the debut L.A. Guns album. I’d had to have come up with a consolation prize for him if he had included its Japanese-only bonus track, Winter’s Fool. I’m sure Mike would agree! 😉
Hey Dear Readers!
Today is your last chance to enter to win your very own (brand new, still in shrink-wrap) copy of 54-40’s amazing Dear Dear album (1992)!
Entries have been coming in, so don’t miss your chance!
Or how about HERE?
Winning entrant will be announced in these pages tomorrow (Wednesday, May 17). Stay tuned!*
*See what I did there? 😉
I ran into an interesting filing conundrum when it came to the next two bands in the All The Everything series, Accept and AC/DC.
Simply put, does one count the / in AC/DC’s name when filing alphabetically?
1) If not counting it, meaning removal of the / from the name, it would look like this:
because the order would be ACCept then ACDc.
2) If yes, it counts as something preceeding alphabetization between the C and the D, it would look like this (and iTunes does it this way):
because the order would be AC/dc then ACCept.
I know, right? These are the things which keep me up at night.
After chewing on this for a while, I asked my lovely wife what she thought. Basically, after looking at me to be sure I was seriously asking this of her (I WAS!), she asked how I will remember it best when I go to my collection to get an album, and go with that. Ultimately, she couldn’t care less. And fair play to her, she has suffered these minutiae questions of mine for many years, now, the dear lady.
So, to avoid spinning wheels any longer, I have chosen to flout iTunes’ tyranny, and to not count the / in AC/DC’s name. Which means I will follow option 1, covering Accept first, and then AC/DC.
After deliberation, I have found this choice to be Acceptable.
And it really doesn’t matter. I’ve got a whole lotta rockin’ in my future in whichever order I choose to cover them!
* In other words, it could be AC or DC… 🙂