SLCR #213: Danko Jones (April 10, 2015)

April 21, 2015

 

 

I think you can click these guys to see them full-sized.

Danko SLCR part 1

20150410Danko2

SLCR #212: The God That Comes (April 3, 2015)

April 8, 2015

This marks the third time I have seen Hawksley Workman’s musical/cabaret/ode to debauchery The God That Comes (and it would have also been the fourth time, had Mark’s sinuses not revolted earlier in the week), so you already know what I think of this (it ruled) so I will forego a full review but must touch on some highlights.

By “highlights,” I mostly mean I want to complain about my old neighbourhood. I moved to Regina in 2004, and lived in the same apartment until buying a house around five years ago. You know how people go back home after a long time away and they’re sad about what happened to their old stomping grounds? Well, that’s me, but not because everything there went to hell. No. Since I moved out of that neighbourhood, they renovated the grocery store and drug store, opened a Subway, opened a coffee shop, opened a CAKE SHOP for God’s sake. All within easy walking distance. I could be picking up a cake on the way home from work every day instead of riding the bus to a house like a chump. It’s like the whole neighbourhood hated me and couldn’t wait for me to leave. Which is not impossible.

The daycare just down the block from my apartment is gone too, having been renovated and turned into Shynok, an authentic Ukrainian restaurant. I say “authentic” despite knowing very little about the food of my people because Deserée has been to the Ukraine and reports that the restaurant’s salads are authentically full of beets.

We went to Shynok before The God That Comes (“so THAT’S your point”) and it was fantastic. Best borscht. Best perogies that aren’t my grandpa’s recipe. Tasty cabbage rolls. Perogies for dessert! Colin drank some bizarre prune beverage and we were all concerned about its possible after-effects. I have not heard from him since that evening. I am not certain if no news is good news in this case.

The show was at the Artesian, which is a lovely venue and was well suited for the play. There were tables down in front with raised benches (pews?) in the back. We managed to get seated right up close and in the centre, near some other work people. Everyone but me had wine, which means I am now Hawksley’s least favourite amongst our little club. This makes me sad, but we’ll always have Twitter dolloping.

As for the play itself, it hadn’t changed much since I saw it in Calgary. I won’t go into too much detail – the soundtrack CD includes all of the night’s songs, but I think there are still parts of the show that are best kept under wraps. I say this mostly because I had forgotten about one of the little surprises (even though it was hinted at) and the crowd reaction to it was my favourite part of the show.

There were a few little tweaks from before. The show felt a little longer this time, due largely to a few spots where Hawksley padded things out a little bit. Notably, there was an audience call-and-response part added during one song that everyone seemed to enjoy (complete with a little impromptu back-and-forth during our show) (that might sort of be a double entendre). The introduction to the show-closer, They Decided Not To Like Us, was changed up a little and while I still think that the song feels tacked on, the new lead-in did help it a bit. I wonder if it might be best to end the play after He’s Mine and come back to perform Decided as an encore.

Oh, also, Hawksley said “fuck” way more this time. I kind of wish that I’d been charting the frequency of his swearing through the years. He goes through phases, and I’d love to figure out if they’re connected to sunspots or something.

UPCOMING SHOWS

  • Danko Jones w/The Lazys (April 10)
  • The Joel Plaskett Emergency w/Mo Kenney (May 15)
  • Charley Pride (May 20)
  • Danny Michel (June 13)
  • Regina Folk Festival feat. Sinead O’Connor, Jenny Lewis, Vance Joy, Blue Rodeo, Bahamas, Basia Bulat, The Sheepdogs, more (August 7-9)
  • Chubby Checker & The Wildcats (September 26)

SLCR #211: Amelia Curran (March 27, 2015)

April 8, 2015

There are shows where I think “dang, I am not going to have anything to write about.” This was one of those times. The sum total of what I knew about Amelia Curran is that Mika liked her. Mika also liked the opener, Ryan Boldt, about whom I knew precisely one other thing, which is that he is the lead singer of Deep Dark Woods. I know one song that they do, and it’s off a compilation album. So clearly we were off to a fine start.

One thing I did not know is if I’d actually seen Amelia Curran before. The answer would become clear to me later on, but she’s one of those people I’ve heard about forever, you know? The kind of person who would maybe tour with someone else I like, or who would play at the Folk Festival – this show was part of the Festival concert series, in fact. But while it seemed plausible, a quick scan of old reviews reveals that her only mention was from when we were supposed to see her at Junofest but she was playing at the Six Shooter event that we couldn’t get into, so now I’m mad about that, and that’s awesome.

We got to the Exchange with plenty of time to get good seats. The place got pretty busy but never truly filled up. Having room to move and breathe delighted me, but later on, I just felt bad for people who missed out. But I will get to that. If I cannot fill this review with shenanigans, I will at least take up space with repeated foreshadowing.

Mark did not miss out. With about 15 minutes left before the show started, it struck me to text him and let him know that we were at the Exchange and that he should pop by if he was bored at home. I assumed he’d be off cutting up a deer or something – unlike me, Mark has hobbies – and in no way did I actually expect a response of “Save us seats. On our way.” but I was delighted to receive it. The Artistic Director of the Folk Festival introduced the show; this always involves the reading of a long list of upcoming concerts and a longer list of sponsors. That gave Mark and Arlette precious extra minutes which enabled them to take their seats just as the show was starting.

Ryan Boldt played a selection of Deep Dark Woods songs, as well as traditional songs from his album Broadside Ballads. I mean, I’m assuming he did. Like I’d know? It seems like a safe thing to say. He played guitar and was accompanied by another guitarist, and it was a relatively laid-back affair. After the first few songs, Boldt got a little chattier with the crowd, with a dry delivery that made him come across quite likeable.

Not so likeable? Bram. What a dick that guy turned out to be.

Anyway, I thought he was real good. If you want an assessment of this performance from people who actually know things about things, Mark said that Boldt was worth the admission price by himself, and at one point during the show, Mika disappeared for a minute and came back with his album. Unanimous approval from our little crew.

Between sets, Mark chatted with Boldt while Arlette took a picture of a sweater (I know that is not exactly the right word for what this thing was) with a bulldozer on it. I am not sure who made better use of their time. I took the opportunity to pee, so maybe me?

As soon as Amelia Curran took the stage, I realized that I had never seen her before, because I would have remembered someone that charming and funny and delightful. And also I apparently have been pronouncing her last name wrong for as long as I’ve known of her existence and I like to think that I would have fixed that somewhere along the way had I known.

Anyway. She was great! I am a lyrics guy and she writes great songs.

(Let us take a moment to praise both The Exchange and the sound guy here. I could hear the singer clearly! Fine work! I wish all venues and techs, respectively, were like you.)

Great songs. Yes. As with Boldt, I was entirely unfamiliar with the music going into the evening, but I am listening to her newest album now (“They Promised You Mercy,” which Mika also bought) and she played pretty much all of these. And I know she played The Mistress because she mentioned the title when introducing the song with a fun story that I won’t spoil here. iTunes lists this as her #1 most popular single. Maybe you know it? I did not but it was real good.

Curran was backed by a full band that was as good as they were untalkative. The drummer declared at one point that he was “good,” or maybe “fine,” I forget. Beyond that, they let Curran do all the talking, which was fine because she came across really well on stage. She seemed a bit nervous in an endearing way with a great sense of humour and I was totally disappointed in my fellow Reginans that more people didn’t laugh at the Simpsons reference. But she did promise/threaten a series of Kiss covers which didn’t materialize (in favour of “more sad songs about my feelings”) and I did think it was a shame we missed out on something that Mike would consider so sacrilegious.

Overall, this night was one of the great underdog success stories of the SLCR series. I hung out with good people and got introduced to new favourites and in a no-drunken-shenanigans, infrequent-chicken-fingers era, what more can one ask for? (Aside from drunken shenanigans and chicken fingers, I mean.) I knew Dan Mangan would be in the running for my show of the year, and I have high hopes for Joel Plaskett, but we have a new surprise contender. The year is off to a good start.

SLCR #210: Dan Mangan + Blacksmith (March 7, 2015)

April 8, 2015

One of my great regrets in life is missing Dan Mangan’s last show in Regina. It was about a year and a half ago at Knox Metropolitan United Church. We had tickets, but it was the first really gross wintry day of the fall, and at the end of a long week, skipping out was much easier than leaving the house. I know some people who went to the show, and they all raved about it. Which is fine, that doesn’t really mean anything, doesn’t mean I’d have had a good time. But one of those jerks (hi Mark) took some video. And showed me the video. And it really did look phenomenal. And then I was sad. Ever since then, “remember Dan Mangan” has been a mantra whenever I feel like being lazy or reclusive or whatever.

Needless to say, when Dan Mangan (and Blacksmith, his newly-named backing band) announced a return date, I was all over it. That it was at Darke Hall, my favourite Regina concert venue, was even better. I ordered our tickets online and got them bundled with a download of his new album, Club Meds. And I listened to it a million times as soon as it came out – in no way did I give it one half-assed listen on the day before the show while not really paying much attention to it. That certainly wasn’t a thing I did at all.

Our show tickets weren’t actual tickets – we were just to show up at Darke Hall and my name would be on a list. Allegedly. I was not really feeling this. I have learned to accept that these days, 95% of the time, I will have printed-out PDFs instead of proper tickets as God intended, but trusting in some phantom list is something else entirely. Everything worked out, I was on the list, we got in, Dan Mangan’s website people are on the ball, but I feel confident in my ability to exchange physical tokens for access to restricted areas and don’t really understand why we need any other system.

The artistic director of the Regina Folk Festival opened the show to welcome us all there and read off the list of the night’s sponsors, as usually happens at one of these shows. She also noted that this was the first time they’d been allowed in Darke Hall since they last had Hawksley Workman there, which was (looks through old reviews) five years ago last month?! That seems impossible and yet it clearly is not. Maybe we all stomped too hard and caused structural damage? Anyway, she mentioned that the University of Regina is fundraising with the goal of renovating its downtown campus, including Darke Hall. I would love for this place to remain available for concerts, and while I don’t have $5 million to spare, maybe you do? http://www.uregina.ca/building-knowledge/

There were actually three artists on the bill. I’d seen Dan Mangan and Hayden before, both at the Regina Folk Festival (and I saw Hayden at Louis’ nearly 20 years ago), but as for the night’s opener, Astral Swans, I’d only heard the name. Astral Swans is one human from Calgary, which meant that I’d been lied to three times by the time he took the stage. Lucky for him, I’m a forgiving sort, mostly because he was real good. He played a very short set, just him and a guitar for around 20 minutes. I couldn’t tell you what songs he played, apart from a cover of Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain, which I guess is something you could expect from someone whose debut album is titled “All my Favourite Singers are Willie Nelson.”

We then had the shortest set change I’ve ever seen. There is no way five minutes elapsed between the end of Astral Swans and Hayden taking the stage. As one who stayed sitting, I was pleased, but I felt bad for anyone who thought they had ample time to pee. I bet a lot of folks got caught unaware midstream.

In 1998, I saw Hayden at Louis’, declared him to be “not my thing,” and left early. A few years ago, he was at the Folk Festival and I came around on him. But this time, I really got it. This was a fantastic set of often dismal and depressing songs. Even the funniest moment had a dark undercurrent; he introduced the song No Happy Birthday by saying that his daughter makes the sign for “that’s enough” as soon as he starts playing songs that he’s written for her. To be fair, I didn’t get into him right away either.

In fact, I’ve had 17 years to get into Hayden and I’ve apparently squandered that time, so I don’t know what other songs he played, apart from knowing that Birthday and several others were from his newest record, Hey Love. I’d ask Mika for the titles of others – she rattled off a list when we left the show – but she’s asleep right now and it’s now been over a month anyway. (Since the concert, I mean; not since she’s been asleep.) She has told me that Hayden has gotten progressively better and better throughout his career, so maybe picking now as a starting point isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever done.

Dan Mangan was great! High expectations: met. I don’t even really know how to describe it except that it was a great show from start to finish. He played a lot of songs from Club Meds, had a pretty swank light show, played something that he described as “a lot of songs all in a row,” and made a comment about the Knox Met show I missed (“We’ll probably never be allowed back there”) that made the ol’ regret flare up again.

At one point, Mangan invited the crowd to stand up and dance; precisely one guy did so. He danced up from his seat, down the aisle, to the front of the stage, all the way back up the aisle, past his seat, out the door, and all the way home. Or, you know, he just walked back to his seat and I didn’t notice because he wasn’t The Only Guy Dancing at that point. I prefer my version.

I would have liked more songs from my favourite Mangan album, Nice, Nice, Very Nice, but for the first song of the encore, he came out without Blacksmith and played Basket by himself and Basket is my favourite song of his. Up above, I referenced dismal and depressing songs, and this one is fantastically awful in the best way. That would have been enough to send me home happy in a miserable way (or miserable in a happy way) but he brought Blacksmith, Hayden and his band, and Astral Swans all back for a show-closing sing-along that was probably a better way to end the night.

So yes, this was a fantastic night of music; the kind of show that reminds you that it’s worth it to brave going out on gross wintry days. Except it had been very slushy during this particular day and it froze while we were at the show and the walk back to the car was life threatening and finally I had to leave Mika standing in one spot holding onto a tree while I slid down the street to retrieve the car so I could pick her up and really, we should all just force Dan Mangan to tour in the summer from now on.

SLCR #209: Big Sugar (February 14, 2015)

March 5, 2015

I never thought I’d get to this point in my relationship with Big Sugar. I went over this in my last Big Sugar review, but to briefly recap: I saw them eons ago and it was way too loud and I was overly bitter about it for a long-ass time. I begrudgingly admitted that they were good before I finally saw them again a few years ago and liked them just fine. Now we are here. They’re just a band that comes to town sometimes, and we went because we kinda felt like it. How mature and boring.

The real reason we went to this show was because a friend from Saskatoon had tickets, but wound up wanting to unload them when Big Sugar subsequently booked a Saskatoon date. Being a magnanimous sort, I bought her tickets because there’s nothing I like more than helping out a friend when it involves no effort whatsoever on my part. I really am a great person. She’s lucky to know me.

I have mentioned before that I buy tickets in advance in order to force myself to go to things; staying home almost always seems like the better option when showtime rolls around, even for shows I like. And on this particular day, my goodness. Not only was it Valentine’s Day – a day when I would much rather not go anywhere that people are – but as luck would have it, it snowed a ton. It started right as I woke up and carried on all damn day. I was very tempted to call the whole thing off, but Mika had a great idea for a Valentine’s Day present for me – she got us a cab to and from the show. This was possibly the best idea ever had. I am not certain my car would have made it. The cab driver had troubles, including an inability to pull into my driveway for fear that he’d never make it back out.

This idea was not without its flaws. We decided to eat supper at the casino, because I don’t learn from my father’s questionable ideas. This plan was put into jeopardy when everyone else in the city had the same idea to call a cab at the same time, and it took nearly an hour for the cab to show up. And once we were on the way, the driver asked if he could stop at his house to grab his cellphone and a shovel, in case he got stuck. I said that was fine. It’s winter in Saskatchewan, so that’s what you do. I guess. He turned the meter off, which I guess is what’s important. We arrived late to the casino and checked out the line at the restaurant, which turned out to be non-existent. I guess that makes sense. Seniors like to eat at the casino; Big Sugar does not attract seniors, so there was room for us. I shoved a clubhouse sandwich down my foodhole and we raced to the show lounge, walking in to applause because we arrived at the exact same time as the band. Now I know how Dave felt after peeing during The Mist.

We took our seats and found that we had no tablemates. A delightful surprise, though there were a small number of visible empty seats in the crowd. I’m guessing a lot of people didn’t want to venture out in the weather (or couldn’t – highways around Regina were closed).

The table nearest us, I… you know, I don’t even know if I wish they hadn’t shown up or if I’m super glad they did. I just don’t know. It was two couples. The first girl took selfies all night long. She bought us a round of drinks. She high-fived people on her way to the bathroom and back. Upon returning, she said “if Security asks, I’ve been here all along.” The two guys were as excited for Big Sugar as anyone I’ve ever seen, with lots of WOOs and YEAHs. Actually, the whole table was like that. They ordered 38 beers among the four of them. I do not know why she bought us drinks. Random friendly gesture? A pre-emptive make-good since they were expecting to be obnoxious? Can we be bought with a Diet Coke and a rum & Coke? Pretty much, yes. Anyway, they were something else.

Back (?) to the show. The band was gathered all on stage, all dressed head to toe in white. The look was unexpected and eye-catching; it also made Mika think that they all kind of looked like they were members of the Guilty Remnant. Even better, she came to this realization during the song 100 Cigarettes.

There was no sign of Shaun Verrault and Safwan Javed of Wide Mouth Mason, who have played with the band in the past and who I thought might have become permanent band members. I must confess I am do not keep up to date on the Big Sugar starting roster. But even keeping that in mind, I did not expect there to be three children in the band. And not “children” like how I refer to 20-year-olds because I am aging and defensive; literal children. Lead singer Gordie Johnson’s children, as it turned out; his son on drums and two daughters singing backup.

In my last Big Sugar recap, I raised an eyebrow about the skinny white dreadlocked guy singing in the faux-Jamaican accent, looking like a Rastafarian version of Mr. Lonely. I did the same thing time. I don’t think he’s a bad guy or anything, I just see that and I think “…you sure about this?” If nobody else has a problem with this, then I shouldn’t either, I guess.

In the interest of not getting off on a bad foot with my Big Sugar pals, I’ll mention now that at their merchandise table, they have it set up so that fans can sign up with WorldVision and sponsor needy children in Jarso, Ethiopia. You can check out more information here: http://artistcollective.ca/artists/big-sugar/

As for the show itself, it was an all-acoustic set, which was about as far removed from that first Big Sugar show as it could be. It started off on a dubious note for me, as they were sounding less like a rock band with some reggae influences and more like a reggae band. Which is great, if that’s your thing. It’s not really my thing. Eventually, they moved into more of a straight up (acoustic) rock show. They didn’t play a ton of singles – not that I’ve ever been a big fan, but I only recognized three songs all night (Diggin’ A Hole, All Hell For A Basement, and Little Bit a All Right). I think Mika knew a few more. They didn’t close with O Canada, which is something I thought they always did. I know they also played a Grady song, but I only know that because Gordie said so. He also ad-libbed a few jokey bits (in that way where it probably wasn’t an ad-lib, but something he does at every show); one about run-ins with cops (“they really like that Diggin’ A Hole song/but they don’t like that our tour bus smells like Cheech & Chong”) and a few lines of an impression of Gordon Lightfoot singing All Hell For A Basement. I thought that part was super funny and now I really want to hear Lightfoot cover that song. I think it could possibly work really well. And at one point, Gordie said “alllllright” and the girl who bought us drinks loudly said “alllllright” and Gordie asked if they were making fun of him, but he acknowledged that he’d worked his entire career just to make a woman say “alllllright.”

Ultimately, I declare this show to be “fine.” I preferred the last Big Sugar show. I know two people who attended the Saskatoon show and they were blown away by it, and I assume the shows were pretty similar, so maybe you should listen to them and not to me. I don’t think “fine” is a negative review, but these folks were raving. I’m not raving. It was fine. Glad we went. Glad we took a cab.

You may remember the drunken texts I was on the receiving end of during the Glass Tiger show. Well, watching TV after Big Sugar, I texted that fellow – to let him know that the Soorp Asdvadzadzin Armenian Apostolic Church in Boston was closed due to snow, of course – and I found that he’d been drinking. I told him about the Big Sugar show and he replied “Glad thencpncertbwas good despite the whites” which is about the best way I’ve ever heard an evening described.

UPCOMING SHOWS
• Dan Mangan + Blacksmith w/Hayden and Astral Swans (March 7)
• Amelia Curran w/Ryan Boldt (March 27)
• The God That Comes (April 3)
• Danko Jones w/The Lazys (April 10)
• The Joel Plaskett Emergency w/Mo Kenney (May 15)
• Charley Pride (May 20)
• Chubby Checker & The Wildcats (September 26)

SLCR #208: Spirit of the West (November 21, 2014)

December 11, 2014

I don’t imagine there’s anything interesting about how I pick which shows to go to. I go see bands I already know I like, or I go see bands I’ve heard good things about. Price matters. The schedule of the rest of my life matters. My general levels of old-man fatigue matter.

The ticket-buying decision for Spirit of the West was a little bit different. I first saw them when they headlined the 2004 Regina Folk Festival. Before then, I was familiar with many of their bigger singles, as most Canadians would be. I don’t think you can legally hold a wedding dance in Canada without playing Home for a Rest. I had a great time at the Folk Festival show, and assumed I’d go see them again sometime.

Of course, that didn’t happen. There was always an excuse. No money, no time, too tired, something else going on, just don’t feel like it right now, whatever. Next thing you know, it had been a decade. These things happen. I’ve never been to the RCMP Museum or the Tunnels of Moose Jaw either, and I only made it to the Milky Way for the first time last year. Fantastic ice cream and it took me nine years to get around to it.

I had some excuse for not going to this Spirit of the West show too. I don’t remember what it was. I knew they were coming and I knew tickets went on sale, but I didn’t buy. Some combination of time/money/interest/whatever. And then in early September, lead singer John Mann went public with the news that, at 51, he’d been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease. The Globe & Mail article where I first learned the news was heartbreaking. I have no idea how someone could face something like that at all, much less in front of the world.

I had barely finished reading the article when I bought the show tickets. It felt almost ghoulish. I’ve made jokes about seeing certain performers because “if I don’t do it now, I’m not likely to get another chance,” but this was the first time it felt like that was what I was actually doing.

In his official statement, Mann said, “Hearing the news has been a difficult blow. My family and I have taken some time to try and absorb the ramifications as we struggle to come to terms with the changes that have occurred and are yet to come. But I don’t want to spend any more energy trying to hide my symptoms. I don’t want to feel embarrassed. I want to accept what has happened and live. I will continue to make music and I will continue to do shows. I need to use an iPad now to help with the lyrics, and for my solo shows, either Al Rodger or Tobin Frank will accompany and support me with their diverse and abundance of talents. My Spirit of the West band mates have circled me with care and we will forge ahead as we’ve been doing the last 30 odd years with humour and friendship, playing our hearts out. I will continue to write and tour, because this is what I do and what I love.”

That sounds like someone who isn’t giving up without a fight. And it sounds like someone who’d think that this whole stupid review thing sounds a bit too much like a eulogy, thank you very much.

When you go to shows at the casino, you sit in the balcony or you sit at a table. For most of my recent shows there, we’ve had a full table of four. But since this was just going to be the two of us, we had to split a table with strangers. I saw all kinds of people that I know at this show – internet friends, work friends, Toastmasters friends. We did not luck into sitting with any of them.

Upon arriving at the casino, we noticed a ton of people with nametags, wearing suits and fancy dresses. The people were, I mean. The nametags were pretty plain. We were joined at our table by a suit/dress couple. She seemed nice. He very much seemed like he didn’t want to be sitting with us. I don’t blame him; we were woefully underdressed. Mika got the impression that they seemed like they might be on an awkward first date. When the dude left to get drinks, Mika asked the lady if they were with the nametag people. She said yes, and told us that they were with KPMG’s Christmas party. Not sure how we wound up at their table, but whatever. Thanks for letting us crash your party, KPMG. Next time, can we have drink tickets too?

Google tells me that KPMG are certified public accountants. KPMG’s website tells me that “KPMG combines our multi-disciplinary approach with deep practical industry knowledge to help clients meet challenges and respond to opportunities.” Score one for Google. I suppose it’s presumptuous of me to suggest that I can write website copy better than KPMG can, but I can, so suck it.

There was no opening act. Spirit of the West took the stage right on time. I suppose the first question is, would I have known anything was up if I hadn’t read that article? Yes, I would have, if only because while singing, Mann never took his eyes off the iPad. I knew it would be there and why it was there, but I wasn’t expecting him to be quite so glued to it. He didn’t do much talking; he told one story close to the end of the set, but it was apparent he was reading that as well. But beyond that, his voice was there, his trademark dancing was there, it was a full-energy Spirit of the West show. No asterisk.

They played pretty much everything that this casual fan would have wanted. I didn’t take notes, and right now it’s very late and I don’t think Mika would appreciate it if I woke her up to say “hey, they played Is This Where I Come In, right?” I will say that the only notable (to me) omission was Two Headed, which I’ve always had a soft spot for.

I shouldn’t even need to mention that they closed with Home for a Rest. There would have been a mutiny if they hadn’t. I filmed it and stuck it on YouTube, in case you want to see it (or want to see the rowdiest crowd I’ve ever seen at a casino show, which admittedly isn’t saying much, but still – it’s very much a sit-down-applaud-politely kind of place):

During the show, no mention was made of Mann’s condition until just before the encore, when Geoffrey Kelly introduced Mann as “the bravest man I’ve ever known.” There was no doubt that everyone in the audience knew exactly what he meant and Mann got the longest standing ovation I’ve ever seen. It might still be going on now, in fact. In all seriousness, it was enough to make your eyes well up. Kelly thanked everyone, saying that it was incredible to have the support of an entire country behind them. And then another member of the band made a joke about getting lost in the restaurant.

All night, Kelly handled most of the on-stage banter, which led to one moment I found amusing. At one point he said something like “last night, we played in Regina, and tonight we’re here with all of you.” Now, I know he just misspoke, but for a second there, I was left wondering if I had gotten confused about which band member had come down with Alzheimer’s.

Hey, they made a joke too. And mine was better.

UPCOMING SHOWS
• Big Sugar (February 14)
• Dan Mangan + Blacksmith w/Hayden and Astral Swans (March 7)

SLCR #207: Buck 65 (November 14, 2014)

December 11, 2014

You should be following Buck 65 on Facebook. Even if you don’t like his music (or any music), the guy is a fantastic storyteller. I like all kinds of bands but follow very few on Facebook because self-promotion doesn’t benefit me, but Buck has it figured out. Forget release dates or Black Friday t-shirt sales, I’m more interested in hearing about him throwing out the first pitch at a Cubs game or finding a box of records on his roof.

Sometime back around January of this year, Buck mentioned that he was at work on a new album and would be touring to support it and asked where he should play. Whenever I’ve seen a musician do this, there are inevitably several hundred responses from fans, and then the artist goes and tours wherever the artist was going to go anyway. It always seems so pointless, but for whatever reason, I felt like playing along this time. I posted that Buck should come back to Regina because everyone skips over it. A short while later, he replied with “I’ll come back to Regina, James. I promise.” So, you know, you’re welcome, everyone who was there. Clearly this show was 100% my doing.

We hit a bit of a snafu upon arriving at the Exchange. All along, they’d said doors at 7:30, show at 8:00. So fine, we got there a little after 7:30, only to find that the outer doors were open, but the inner doors were not. And the lobby was crammed full of people who read the same thing about the times. And it was -30 with the windchill. There was room enough to let one last person into the lobby, so I let Mika stand inside while I waited outside. One by one, other folks joined me and asked about the doors, asked why we were stuck outside, asked who the opening act was, asked about the doors some more, asked when I thought the show would start. It turned out that the Exchange and the Regina Folk Festival tried to get the proper times out via Twitter in the hours before the show, but I hadn’t seen them. But no matter – by the time the inside doors opened to let us all in, I’d been holding court with a dozen of my new best friends and was a little sad that it was over.

We found some seats and I got us iced teas because it was a Friday night and that’s how we do it up. Colin stopped by to say hi, which gave me a chance to show off my rap skills. Colin had seen my rap skills at lunch earlier that day, and Mika is already very (overly?) familiar with my rap skills, but I was not about to let this opportunity pass me by.

The opener was Winnipeg’s Sc Mira. These folks had an interesting visual aesthetic going on, which is a way of saying that someone around me announced “they look like douchebags” as soon as the band took the stage. In fairness, the drummer looked like a completely normal guy and was unfairly lumped in with the rest. In my opinion. Anyway, I was expecting my usual opening act “they were fine” without much else to say, but then they were kind of great? Just a really tight female-fronted rock band with catchy songs. Good stuff. Would go see again. And I will surely get the chance, since their Facebook tells me that they recently toured with Indigo Joseph, and I’m due to see those guys again soon since it’s been a few weeks. I don’t go find them; they find me. Not complaining. It’s just how life is.

I was a little concerned that Buck 65 wasn’t going to make it to the show. His tour diary suggested that they’d lost the keys to the van the night before and weren’t sure what to do about it. But he found a way:

Had to hire a new van. Blew the last one up. Warmed my hands with the fire.

I drove and drove and drove and drove… I drove across the Badlands of Alberta. I drove across Saskatchewan – where they say you can watch your dog run away for three days; where they say that if you stand on a paint can, you can see the back of your own head. I saw horses and cattle. I saw roadkill. I also saw big, shadowless houses with two hours of nothing on either side. I assume mad men live inside. The roads were straight as arrows. The snow blew high and whited everything out. Hard not to think lonely thoughts when everywhere you look there’s nothing. During a few long stretches, I was too far from anywhere for the radio to pick up anyone’s song. For hours it felt like I wasn’t making any progress at all. I thought I was driving on a giant treadmill.

When I finally arrived in Regina, I heard the news that Jose Canseco’s finger fell off.

Saskatchewan people: have you ever actually heard anyone say that it’s so flat that “if you stand on a paint can, you can see the back of your own head?” The dog running away one, yeah, everyone knows that, but the paint can bit was new to me. It reminded me of PK at work telling me that someone was “so short, she’d need to stand on a brick to kick a duck in the ass.” I love that so much. Not only is it delightful to say “brick” and “kick” and “duck” in short order, but it’s just so specific. Why a brick? Who stands on a brick? And what did that duck ever do to you? Geese, in my experience, are much more worthy of kicks.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Buck brought up this expression during his set. He brought up a lot of things. It was a very interesting show. I have seen Buck three times before, and I never before saw him so focused on sex and boobs and centaur penis and sideboob and other parts. He made several references to living in a “post-Ghomeshi world;” the show was sponsored by the CBC and he seemed fixated on the poster they put up. A creepy sex education record (which was not really meant to be used for education, at least not in the traditional sense) soundtracked a lengthy part of the show.

After the fact, Buck himself seemed to think it was a strange show:

When I arrived at the venue, I smelled the worst smell I’ve ever smelled. It might have been a dead raccoon wrapped up in a soiled diaper. Maybe that had something to do with the show being so different from all of the others. Some other energy took over. It somehow turned into a bizarre comedy show or something. And my approach to the songs was completely different. I don’t know what came over me. But it seemed to work. Laughs were had and everyone seemed to go home happy.

Buck played for quite a while – his set came close to two-and-a-half hours with a ton of old songs, new songs, b-sides, all kinds of stuff. Fans of his older stuff were treated to Blood of a Young Wolf (not “Young Worf” as I had initially typed; I am certain Buck will never read this, but if he does, and he happens to be working on an album inspired by Star Trek: The Next Generation, he’s welcome to that one). He also played Roses & Blue Jays, Wicked & Weird, and an absolutely deadly version of 463. Loved it.

It goes without saying that he played a lot from his new record, Neverlove. He opened his set with Gates of Hell, and I knew he’d close with Super Pretty Naughty – it’s a completely atypical Buck 65 song, an incredibly danceable party anthem with inane lyrics (“hey do you like sports and also did you used to be a baby?”) that is somehow worse and better than anything on the radio. I wasn’t counting on NSFW Music Video, but we got that one too and I was delighted by its non-stop double (and sometimes single) entendres. Others from Neverlove included Love Will Fuck You Up, A Case for Us, Only War, and Heart of Stone. He was joined on stage by Tiger Rosa and they played pretty much everything that she sings on from the album, though there seemed to be some sort of technical issues going on. It seemed like she kept gesturing at the sound guy to turn the volume up. There were also parts where it almost seemed like her mouth didn’t match what she was singing. Not making accusations – something just seemed off.

Buck has been making music forever. With a huge body of work to draw from, he would move from song to song by using snippets of other songs as segues – sometimes he’d play half the song and sometimes it would only be a line or two. I counted Zombie Delight, Dang, Shutter Buggin’, and Indestructible Sam, among others.

Ultimately, as alluded to above, I had a good time and some laughs and went home happy. It was a different sort of show, but a fun one. Buck pretty much guarantees a good time. I didn’t stick around after the show to meet him – I’m sure he would have wanted to thank me for making the show happen – but it sounded like he wasn’t hurting for company:

Afterwards, I met two different people with whom I have an incredible amount in common. It’s as if I’m living a parallel life with two different people who live in Saskatchewan. I also met a cobbler from my hometown of Mt. Uniacke, Nova Scotia. He had a good handshake and told me he likes the song “Craftsmanship.” That felt good. Regina has always been good to me. I hope to get back soon.

SLCR #206: Kim Churchill w/Mo Kenney (November 13, 2014)

December 5, 2014

A guy named Kim and a girl named Mo walk into a bar. They put on a good show and everyone has a good time.

I am the worst at jokes.

Mo Kenney is a protégé of sorts of Joel Plaskett. Mika and Other James and I saw her last year and it was good times. She has a new album out and I like it. And Kim Churchill is Australian. Now you are caught up, or at least as caught up as I was.

Kenney also played the Regina Folk Festival this year, but not while I was there. Other James had backstage passes for the weekend and he got to chat with her for a bit. He said she was very nice and very gracious, even when mainstage host Al Simmons said “Mo Kenney – that guy is great!” This story made me laugh much harder than it should have. When I told Mika, it had a similar effect. I guess we will take any excuse to make fun of Al Simmons, who is still much better as a festival host (and probably all other areas of life) than Bubba B The MC. PHOTO OP PHOTO OP PHOTO OP PHOTO OP

Oh well. They can’t all be Fred Penner.

Anyway. I’ve been complaining about bands skipping over Regina, so I’ve been trying to make a point of going to more shows. The best way to get more bands to come here is to go see the ones who do, right? But it’s cold now, and I get lazy, and it’s real easy to bail out if I haven’t made concrete plans. So in a moment of enthusiasm – by which I mean while I was briefly awake and energetic and aware of my surroundings – I popped online to buy a ticket to this show. There have been times when I was willing to take the financial hit by skipping out, and I’m sure it will happen again, but buying in advance in moments of enthusiasm helps the odds.

If you read the MBF review, this evening started off much the same. Mika went to school. I took a bus downtown. Walked through the cold to The Exchange. Bought an iced tea when I got there. The cold is colder now, with no way to avoid wearing a parka, but there were lots of open seats so I had someplace to park my coat. And my butt. I appreciated having a place for both. I sat around for a bit, probably getting caught up on iPhone games (it’s been several weeks since this show – I really don’t know what I did – but that’s almost always a pretty good guess at concerts) (and at home, at work, in airports, at funerals, etc.) until Mark and Other James arrived. We chatted for a bit before they found their pals and took their seats.

Kenney was here with a band this time. I don’t know if it was having a few other people on stage with her, or if it was just the result of a year of recording and touring, but she came across much more confident this time out. Beyond that, her show felt much the same as the one the year before despite the addition of a new album’s worth of songs. This is not a bad thing! I liked both shows; there were just no real surprises this time (apart from the story of the drawing on the drum, which I’ll keep to myself so as not to wreck the eventual comic book). They played many of the same songs as last time, including the same covers of Shakin’ All Over and Five Years. I suppose her new single Telephones is a cover too, but I didn’t know that until yesterday (it’s by a band named Mardeen, who I had never heard of until writing this very sentence) so it doesn’t count. Because I get to decide what counts. I’m listening to the Mardeen version right now and it’s good! So we’re all learning something here today. Or maybe I’m slow and thus the only one.

The hits from the last album – Déjà Vu and Sucker – got the big reactions, of course. And I don’t believe she played my favourite song from the new album – Take Me Outside – so that will be something to look forward to for next time.

Between sets, a dude walked through the crowd selling Kenney’s CDs. I admired the hustle – don’t wait for me to come to the stuff table, bring the stuff to me! I already had both of Kenney’s albums, but I’d see that salesman again later.

During the break, I got to chat some more with Mark. I had bought my ticket to see Kenney and really knew nothing about Kim Churchill. I was prepared to give the guy a shot but was also quite willing to leave early if I wasn’t into it. Mark echoed my sentiments. He then told me that he couldn’t come to the Buck 65 show the following night because he had plans. These plans included “setting up a craft show” and “cutting up a deer.” I think we live very different lives. Mine has much less venison.

Kim Churchill looks Australian. He has Australian hair. If that makes you think of Yahoo Serious on the box for the Young Einstein videotape, 1) you’re wrong, but not by as much as you might think, and 2) when did we get so old?

Unlike Kenney, Churchill was alone on the stage, but though he was just one man, he was indeed a one-man band. He played guitar and sang, wore a harmonica on a harness around his neck, played drums and sampling pedals with his feet, and had some chimes set up by his elbow. I on the other hand, cannot pat my head and rub my stomach at the same time. I was impressed enough that he could do this at all, and then it turned out he was really good on top of it. Dude can play. And I just tested that patting/rubbing thing and wound up punching myself in the balls and poking an eyeball.

Seriously, Churchill put on a great performance. I couldn’t tell you what he played, apart from recognizing the one song I’d listened to one time before the show (Window to the Sky). Didn’t matter. This was great. I recorded a video of one song and put it up on YouTube. No idea what the song is called. Don’t care. Great. You should watch it, and if he ever comes to your town, you should go. There should have been more people there for this.

I caught up with Mark and Other James after the show and they were both suitably blown away. Mark picked up all three Churchill CDs, as the salesman cut him a package deal. They left, and I browsed the stuff table while waiting for Mika to come and get me. I decided to pick up a CD. “Which one?” asked the salesman. I had no idea so I went for the newest one. The salesman smelled blood and pretty soon I had the package deal too. I can’t even be upset about it. He did his job amazingly well. And as I only had $48 in cash on me, I got the CDs for $2 less than Mark did. VICTORY!

With time to spare, I decided to talk to Churchill for a minute and get my CDs signed. By this point, there were only a handful of people left in The Exchange. I was patiently waiting my turn when I was joined by someone who I had never seen before in my life.

If Cathy reads this, she will tell me that the following story would only ever happen to me. I think she might be right.

So. Bald guy. About my height. Has a mustache that he doesn’t appear to be fully committed to so I assume it was for Movember. He’s drinking a beer. And he says to me, “Fuck, man, what a great fuckin’ show, man. That song about the darkness? Fuck, man, I’ve been there. I was out by fuckin’ Radville earlier today, and I blew a fuckin’ tire, so man, I’m fuckin’ lucky to be alive.”

At this point I was convinced that this fellow was the most fascinating man I had ever met. I was also a little bit terrified. But mostly fascinated.

“Man, you never fuckin’ know. Like that song about the fuckin’ darkness? It’s fuckin’ out there, but music, man, music will help you fuckin’ keep it together. Music can save your fuckin’ life, man. It saved mine.”

-pause-

“I was in a persistent vegetative state for three months and when I woke up, I didn’t recognize my own father. But they gave me a toilet paper tube, right? And I could do my fingering exercises from when I used to play the violin.”

He demonstrated on an invisible toilet paper tube.

He then asked if I was musical (no, though I’ve never made an honest effort to try to be) and told me about some of the groups he plays with. One of them sounded familiar and I asked if we might know the same person – one of my workplace’s multitude of Dougs.

“YOU KNOW DOUGIE?!”

-big hug-

Kim Churchill was now waiting to talk to us. I will always very much wonder what he thought of this whole situation. We all chatted for a bit but I quickly took my leave as Mika showed up, and besides, my enthusiastic new best friend had loads of questions about Churchill’s stage setup and I had nothing to contribute to this conversation. But I will always remember the last thing I heard him say: “So THAT’S where the fuckin’ snare comes from!”

SLCR #205: Gordon Lightfoot (November 7, 2014)

November 10, 2014

He showed up! I was not entirely expecting that. My very limited knowledge of Gordon Lightfoot suggests that he has, in the past, been prone to booking concerts in Regina and then cancelling. This may be entirely apocryphal, or maybe it only ever happened one time and for some reason it really stuck with me. Whatever. My point is that I am a wealth of Gordon Lightfoot facts. Others include:

  • According to my pal who owns a bakery here, Gordon Lightfoot likes his whole wheat bread fresh, sliced, and delivered before noon.
  • You need to has five bucks for the Homestarmy in case Gordon Lightfoot is creeping around YOUR back stair.
  • One time, I tried talking about Gordon Lightfoot in an email or text or something and it came out as “Gordon Lightfood” and I like that a lot better. I might do a find-and-replace so that I remove all instances of Lightfood (except in this bullet) but I most likely won’t.
  • This other time, I was challenged to write a song about a guy who went to the computer school I taught at. I did so – it was a parody of The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. It was obscene and some of my finest work ever.
  • The Edmund Fitzgerald sank 39 years ago today! I wrote this review yesterday and didn’t intentionally hold off on posting it for a day to tie into the anniversary, but I would have if I’d known.

See? Super knowledgeable over here.

My dad and stepmom picked us up and we went for dinner at the casino. I was prepared for the usual eternal wait to get seated, rushed meal, and mad dash to the show lounge, but actually got through everything in decent time. Surprising, seeing as how the Lightfoot show was long since sold out and every senior citizen in Regina was in attendance.

A nice lady from the CBC introduced the show. I have gotten in trouble before for using the internet to repeat jokes that nice CBC ladies make, so I won’t say which nice CBC lady it was or what she said. Suffice to say that it was a joke about a topic I didn’t think CBC people would be allowed to joke about, and the crowd didn’t really know what to make of it. My dad thought it was super funny, though. And I laughed too. I have no shame.

Lightfoot and his four-piece band took the stage in short order, saying that rumours of his death had been greatly exaggerated – an amusing nod to the Lightfoot death hoax that circulated online a few years ago while Lightfoot, unaware, was happily at the dentist. Or at least I assume it was happily, considering the alternative.

With long gray hair and sporting a red velour jacket over a black collared shirt, Lightfoot looked for all the world like an old man anime Dracula. Like, maybe this is what the boss of a Castlevania game would turn into after you defeat him. Or maybe I just had a lot of time to think about these things.

During dinner, my dad mentioned a newspaper writeup about the show, where Lightfoot said that he normally played two-hour shows, and sometimes went longer if the audience wanted it. At about the 20-minute mark, I found myself hoping that this was an exaggeration.

Gordon Lightfoot is a legend and I’m really glad that I got the chance to see him. However, as you might expect from a 75-year-old, he has seen better days. This show did a fine job of hammering home what a miracle modern Leonard Cohen really is. With a weak voice, Lightfoot mumbled his way through a 90-minute set. Mika suggested that the sound was poorly mixed – that Lightfoot could sometimes not be heard over the drums – but I think Lightfoot just can’t project anymore. He also seemed to lose his train of thought repeatedly while talking between songs, and he took a break for some nasal spray at one point. I get it – he’s 75 – but this joins Dr. John and Mavis Staples and Loretta Lynn in the pantheon of “I wish I’d seen them way back when” shows.

I’m much less familiar with Lightfoot’s songs than I thought I was. I really only recognized Sundown, Carefree Highway, If You Could Read My Mind, and Edmund Fitzgerald; the latter was a nice surprise as I didn’t think we’d get it because it’s a longer song. Mika said she wasn’t expecting it because it gets a little loud, but noted that they toned it down. This was a running theme and did not help the show. I was excited to hear Sundown, but when they played it, all I thought was “yeah, I could stand to see Luke Doucet again.”

It didn’t help that Lightfoot’s band didn’t have much to do. They all had simple parts to play and were never really given chances to show off. The lead guitarist got a solo. That’s about it. The songs themselves could have been freshened up by losing the 1980s keyboards, or at least tweaking their sound.

You may want to ask about other hits and I will shrug cluelessly. I know he played Early Morning Rain and Cotton Jenny, but only because my dad and Mika said so, respectively. There were a number of songs where the opening notes got a nice reaction from the crowd, but they didn’t mean anything to me. Some of them sounded kind of familiar. I have listened to more than my share of Canadian AM radio in my day, so there is no excuse for my ignorance. Once I get this stupid iTunes working on this computer, I’ll check out a Lightfoot greatest hits collection. Probably should have done that a week ago.

UPCOMING SHOWS

  • Kim Churchill w/Mo Kenney (November 13)
  • Buck 65 (November 14)
  • Spirit of the West (November 21)
  • Dan Mangan + Blacksmith w/Hayden and Astral Swans (March 7)

SLCR #204: Michael Bernard Fitzgerald (October 28, 2014)

November 10, 2014

We are entering winter, which is the worst season for concerts. Not only does nobody want to come to town when it’s -40 and the highway might ice over – and I don’t blame them – but actually going to a show is a pain. What do you wear? Do you dress for the chilly weather, or do you dress for the inevitable sweatbox that is whatever venue you’re going to? Basically, you have to be really uncomfortable, but when?

And yes, I get that some places have coat checks. I do not care. Waiting to get your coat back is a MILD INCONVENIENCE that I do not have time for. Also, they sometimes want you to pay for it. Outrageous, I say.

On this evening, I opted to wear something that would be tolerable whilst indoors, which made the walk from the bus stop a frosty one. After two years of being an unofficial single-car household, we’ve finally sold off the one car after it tried to die on us one too many times. This works really well about 98% of the time. And then you have nights when Mika has school, and I want to go to a show, and the timing doesn’t work out that well, and all of the other usual concert suspects are sick or tired or disinterested or in other cities or whatnot. So I caught a bus to work and walked to the Exchange from there. I’m sure I could have caught another bus that would have taken me closer, but that would require learning a new bus route and I know two already and I’m just one guy, you know? So I walked. I’m trying to get 10,000 steps a day anyway.

The previous week, I collected some of those steps by walking to the record store to buy my ticket for the show – an actual physical ticket. Not a PDF. That doesn’t happen much anymore. And then, at the door, instead of taking the ticket stub, they took the whole thing. And so it goes.

Along with my 10,000 steps a day, I have also given up soda. A friend of mine went four months without. I said “I could do that.” Mika did not agree – I don’t know who would have – and so here we are. It’s been two months. Most days, this isn’t too bad. But sometimes you wind up at the bar and you don’t want to drink booze because then you’re not the creepy old guy alone at the show, you’re the creepy old guy drinking alone at the show, which seems worse. And you can’t have pop, and you dislike paying for bottled water on principle, and you’re not sick and thus can’t qualify for the sickness Gatorade exemption and they don’t have Gatorade ANYWAY. Your options are limited, is what I’m saying. Or at least mine were. I don’t know about yours. But there is a brand of unsweetened iced tea you can get here now – this is not a common thing in Canada – and it has helped me through many a soda-related jam. And they have it at the Exchange, and I don’t know why they have it anywhere, because I have never once seen anyone drink it but me. But I’m glad it’s there.

As I was buying my iced tea, I noticed the sign behind the bar which said that you had to be born before this date in 1995 in order to buy alcohol. This did a fantastic job of making me feel like the oldest person on earth. I took my iced tea and found a nice quiet spot in which to sit my old bones down. The attendance was decent, but the place was far from packed, so I had no problem getting a good spot.

One thing I’ve noticed about MBF’s shows is that he really seems to like to give exposure to up-and-coming bands. There were four openers before his birthday show in Calgary, and we had two for this show. First up was Layten Kramer, who MBF later said was from Canmore, Alberta, “where life moves a little bit slower.” I am not sure Kramer is ready for the pace of big city life, as he told an extended story about being at Boston Pizza earlier in the day, and his band order schooners of booze, which meant he had to drive, and he was so frustrated by this development that he punched his pasta. He also didn’t finish said pasta, as he offered to get it from the pasta-scented van and show it to us.

Also, there were songs! Not about pasta. The band was a three-piece, with Kramer singing and playing guitar, a guy named Dean on bass, and someone who I initially thought was named Conway on drums. Kramer said the drummer’s name again later in the set, and I was disappointed to learn that it was not Conway, so I am refusing to write his real name out of spite. Take that, drummer who had nothing to do with this situation. The music was pretty good, though the band had a bit of a tendency to drift off into extended instrumental bits which aren’t so much my thing.

Next up was Danny Olliver from Regina. He warned us that the night might get wild, but also graciously invited us to stay sitting. Mostly, it was just him and a guitar, though he was joined by his sister Samantha who sang on a number of the songs. There was a large contingent there to see him, and I assumed they were family, especially when Olliver introduced one song as being “about a dad – not OUR dad, just A dad.” Eventually, he introduced his dad, after a fashion (“My dad hasn’t even yelled anything tonight.” “WOOOOOOOO.” “There we go.”) and it was who I expected. His dad, like most dads, could use a lesson regarding the effectiveness of the built-in camera flash.

I’m pretty sure that somewhere around this point, Layten Kramer went to his van and came back with the pasta.

Olliver’s songs are singer-songwriter type stuff, complemented by some flashes of impressive guitar playing. He especially won people over with his last song, an untitled instrumental number where he played the guitar like a drum while strumming the neck. He also had a good story about meeting and going watersliding with MBF’s band earlier in the day, and one of the band members – apparently named Alec Baldwin (with the emphasis on the “lec”) – grabbing his leg and tickling his foot underwater in a case of mistaken foot identity.

Between sets, I bought another unsweetened iced tea because I am a wild man.

Fitzgerald took the stage by himself, opening with Love is an Easy Thing to Miss, which I always think sounds like Follow at the start. He thanked us for coming out on whatever night it was… Tuesday?

Some girl, right up at the front: “TUESDAY WOO”

MBF: “I feel like that is going to be your role all evening.”

That was pretty funny, but it was no “This song is best enjoyed in silence.” That remains one of my favourite things that anyone has ever said from the stage during a show.

Over the next three songs, his bandmates joined one by one. I have no last names for anyone, but Lisa came out first to play keys on I Will, and then Alec (again, this is pronounced aLEK) Baldwin came out for Follow. On a few occasions, aLEC was accidentally referred to as “Andrew,” which goes to show what I’ve known all along – there are no real Alecs. If you say your name is Alec, you’re a no-good dirty liar. Finally, Adam joined the band – both Adam and aLEC were on drums, with Lisa spending most of her time on bass.

So we had Love is an Easy Thing to Miss, I Will, and Follow. As MBF said, they got the love jams out of the way first. It was suggested that if you were there with a special someone, you should grab them by the earlobe and then shove them away. Play hard-to-get. I have yet to try this with my special someone but I will let you know how it goes. Maybe I should practice on the cat first.

I Will is that song that maybe you recognize from Additionelle commercials if you watch TV and live in Canada and don’t skip commercials for lady clothes. Or, I guess, if you saw some reference to the ads online like I did. I am iffy about songs in ads. I probably would not be if I needed to make money from music in order to pay rent and punch food or do whatever it is musicians do. So far, the ad hasn’t tainted the song for me, mainly because I have only ever seen the ad twice – once in that story online and then once on TV when I was skipping by (via the DVR, not on foot) and thought “hey, I bet that ad has that song.” We aren’t at the point yet like with Gimme Sympathy by Metric, where I hear the song and it only ever makes me think of that ad for… whatever it was. Advertising is super effective.

More songs! I didn’t take notes, but I know they played Firecracker, Man Overboard, In Your Room Tonight, World of Black and White, Last Train to Georgia, Reach You, and Movie Life, along with several new songs that I didn’t recognize but enjoyed. As per usual, he played a bit of Low before moving into Dancing in the Dark. I had also hoped for Brand New Spaces so I could stomp (and stomp and stomp) and clap and was not disappointed. I wonder if the stomping (and stomping and stomping) added extra steps to my pedometer? I hope so – that Wii Fit U walking tour of Italy isn’t going to walk itself.

The full band and extra percussion really brought the energy up and these were the best versions of these songs that I’d heard. Fine work all around. Fitzgerald mentioned that the band had left Lethbridge, Alberta after midnight the night before to arrive in Regina in time for an appearance on CTV – “In retrospect, this was not a wise idea” – but the fatigue, if any, did not hold them back.

We also got an extended version of the waterslide story from earlier – “it is not possible to nap in a hotel that has waterslides.” Apparently the Travelodge pool has a tunnel to a second waterslide, which they used even though it was out of commission. MBF went first down the dry slide, and those that followed used his wetness. Actually, I think this whole story was an excuse to use the phrase “used my wetness” as often as possible and to that end, he was quite successful, so kudos there.

The encore was – as it usually seems to be – Care For You, though this one got interrupted by the sound of a nearby train. MBF told a story about one time they’d played the Exchange (I think this would be the last time I saw him there? Not sure) where a girl, upon leaving the show, got her car hung up on the train tracks (I think a snowbank was involved?) and everyone had to help move the car lest a train come. “THAT WAS ME” yelled someone from far behind me. All involved were glad to see that she and her car were both okay.

After the show, I stopped by the stuff table to buy a copy of Live at the Grand, an MBF live CD that I assume is relatively new. Most of the songs are from his last studio album, so maybe this is new for this tour? I do love tour-only treats at the stuff table. I think I have the rest of his records, so I skipped the cassette tape from the future, but that looked like a heck of a deal. Anyway, MBF was taking pictures and whatnot and I had to wait for my ride to get there, so I took the opportunity to get my CD signed and thank him for coming through Regina. Over the past few months, I can think of a half-dozen bands I would have seen who’ve skipped over Regina on tour. I don’t know if it’s a lack of quality venues, or if nobody here wants to book bands, or if it’s just that nobody shows up when bands do come to town – and I have been to several shows that should have had a lot more people there (including this one) – but whatever the reason, it’s become a real treat just to have someone I like come to town. And when a show was this good, so much the better.


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