* Please note: We were front row center for this gig. I took a few pics with my cell phone, hoping to get a couple good ones for the blog. If for any reason I was not supposed to be taking pictures during the show, or I can’t use them here on this page, please let me know and I will take them down immediately. I’m hoping it’s cool, but one never knows. Thanks!
Just back from seeing Danny Michel at the Heartwood Concert Hall here in my town. What a fantastic time!
How we got there involves a wee tale (stay with me, I’ll get there):
I wanted to see Metallica in Toronto in July, but floor seats were $200+ each. For the Skydome? (or whatever they call it now)? I think frickin’ not. Anyway, I only get to about a concert per year, so I wondered what it would be… and then my lovely wife mentioned Danny was coming to town. I wanted to go. James said GO. We got tickets and voila. Definitely not Metallica, but that’s apples and oranges. Honestly, this was waaaaay better. Let me explain.
This show sold out, and that’s cool. I’m guessing numbers, maybe 150-200 people in that room? We got seats front row center at a table with old friends from back in the Knox Acoustic Cafe days, so it was nice catching up with them.
It was just Danny on stage with his guitar, tonight. No band. And that was actually really cool, really special, because it felt more like a house concert. I love that feel.
For this gig, I tried something new. I didn’t try to write down every song title. I didn’t try to memorize every wee thing that happened (though of course I’ve remembered some). I just sat back and let the music come to me and enjoyed the experience. I noticed little things, like how he has rubbed the ‘Ep’ off the ‘Epiphone’ on his guitar’s headstock so it says ‘iphone.’ And all the little tricks he does with the guitar (there were a ton). Just cool stuff.
He told a ton of stories, how songs got written, or where he was when things happened, or how he had a penpal in outer space, or how they spent a week drinking in the lobby of a whorehouse in Belize without knowing it was a whorehouse. He came across as charming, witty, and genuine. That’s a tough thing: most artists have a schtick and they say it the same every gig. He truly pulled it off just being himself and having fun between songs. It was beautiful.
He took questions from the crowd (such as ‘why do you wear those glasses’ because he’s always got them shoved up on the top of his head and never seems to use them. Someone also asked about a calf named Marty – apparently the cow has an eye issue so he named it Marty Feldman. Natch).
And the songs? I doubt I’ll get a setlist online, but who knows? I know he played some off the Black Birds… album, like What Colour Are You? and A Cold Road… He played Feather Fur And Fin, and a couple songs off the new record (recorded on a Russian ice breaker in the Arctic). That was fun because he played the title track (Khlebnkov) and when it’s just him it sounds one way, but on the record there’s a whole orchestra behind him. So he played some of the song from the album for us into the microphone from his cell phone, so we could hear the difference. Mid-song. He thought it was hilarious when we clapped.
He played one for his space penpal (something about Samantha in the sky with diamonds. Seriously). He played Wish Willy, and Who’s Gonna Miss You? [which he dedicated to Stuart Mclean, RIP, because Stuart (with whom he ate sardines) liked that song and always had Danny play it when he joined Stuart’s traveling show]. In two sets, he played a whole bunch of stuff. All of it excellent.
He also got a big cheer from the crowd when he announced he’s maybe kinda sorta living in our area now. Which explains why he was here for a while, recently. And also explains why someone asked about the calf named Marty.
He ended the night with the Clash’s Bankrobber (with us singing the chorus), and then a brilliant Nobody Rules You.
He played for a good long time, and every song was done with honesty and talent and fun. Truly, a great night. Take that Lars!
Oh, and on the way out, he was there to talk to, sign autographs, give high fives, whatever. But there was a line and we needed to get home (I had to get up for work next morning!) so I let go of the chance to say hi. Ah well, who knows. If he’s living near here now, maybe the chance will come up again soon.
I’d go see Danny Michel play again anytime. If you get the chance, GO.