. : : April 5th, 2010 : : .
On a warm late summer evening in 2007, Rocky Votolato performed at the intimate El Mocambo in downtown Toronto backed by a full band. The small room was packed with loud, rambunctious fans. Several hoards of people congregated on the sidewalk outside the venue, enjoying the show from the large, open window at the other side of the bar. It was my first time seeing my favourite troubadour who had won me over upon the release of wonderful album Makers, which still stands near the top of my all-time favourites list.
Just under three years later, Rocky returned to an even smaller venue — the Drake Underground — with a new album (True Devotion) worth of songs to perform for us, but opted to shed the unnecessary weight of tour mates and share the stage with only a handful of harmonicas and a single Yamaha acoustic guitar. As the favourite and most memorable moments of Rocky’s 2007 set were when he performed several songs solo, I was more than happy with this arrangement. Based on the loud and enthusiastic response of my fellow concert-goers, I’d expect I was in similar company.
Rocky treated us to a 70-minute set of old and new favourites, a Cat Stevens cover, and a song I’m having trouble identifying (can anyone help?). The crowd, which was uncharacteristically quiet (but the polite, attentive sort-of quiet — uncanny for a Toronto crowd!) for the night’s opening performer, Brooke Waggoner, came alive once Rocky took the stage, singing and clapping unabashedly along through a handful of songs. Rocky seemed to be gracious for Toronto’s warm welcome, and hopefully will return sooner than later.
I recorded this show from about 25 feet back, just right of centre stage. The sound in the venue was immaculate, and it really shows in this recording. I was so happy with the sound that, other than volume adjustment, fades and light compression (to bring down the power of the clapping), there was absolutely no EQing done to the original master. As with most of my mini-disc recordings, there was one or two short drop outs. My mini-disc decided not to start recording at the top of Rocky’s encore set, but luckily I noticed a minute or two into the first song of his second set and we didn’t lose too much. Also, I was under the weather, and you can hear me cough harshly three or four times throughout the recording. I held it in until there were tears in my eyes, and for the most part I was able to withhold until the song finished — or at least while Rocky wasn’t singing!
04. Portland Is Leaving
05. White Daisy Passing
06. Father and Son [Cat Stevens]
08. Tinfoil Hat
09. Lucky Clover Coin
10. Red River
11. Mixtapes, Cellmates
13. Sun Devil
14. Suicide Medicine
16. Silver Trees [cut]
17. The Wrong Side of Reno
Thanks to Rocky Votolato, Brooke Waggoner, Barsuk Records and the staff of the Drake Hotel for a wonderful night of music. Please download and distribute this recording freely, and support the bands by buying their albums, merchandise and concert tickets when they perform in your town.