. : : July 26th, 2010 : : .
Wow! Four posted Colleen Brown shows in five weeks? An astounding feat for an artist that, until this year’s recent North By North East (NXNE) festival, didn’t even register on my radar. Certainly, Colleen Brown was this year’s exceptional find at my two-day, limited experience at the city-wide musical circus, and my love of and deep appreciation for her music has deepened with back-to-back-to-back-to-back phenomenal performances.
I was a bit concerned that so frequent blog updates dedicated to Ms. Brown would over-saturate any interest in the performer from my dedicated readers, but positive fan feedback has been off the charts (if any charts were actually made) and I have been lucky to be able to strike repeatedly when the iron is hot. Hailing from the western province of Alberta, it’s an unusual but welcomed honour to attend so many wonderful performances in quick succession from an out-of-town artist. Alas, this will be Colleen’s last performance in Toronto for some three months! She will be returning home to Edmonton after three months of gracing the Eastern provinces with her frequent and charming presence: at least, until a gig opening for the Crash Test Dummies (yes, the Mmm, Mmm, Mmm, Mmm guys) on a national tour brings her back in the fall.
In the meanwhile, we are left with two lovable albums and the hint of a third with a bevy of unreleased songs slipping into her sets to tide us over. But it’s her opening slot for Meaghan Smith at the Drake Underground on this warm July evening that inspires this update. Her rhythm section returned home shortly following their performance at the Horseshoe Tavern, leaving only Toronto’s legendary Colin Cripps to accompany Colleen on a guitar — a special duo show that promised from the moment of its initial official announcement on Twitter to be a unique night of music from Colleen and Colin.
And, as expected, the dynamic duo delivered deliciously (sorry. I’m a sucker for alliteration)! Of each of the performances I have been lucky to catch this summer, Colleen’s doe-eyed, smiling banter has coupled with her rich voice and spectacular melodies to create a recipe perfect for fulfilling even the music insatiable musical appetite. This particular evening’s show stood out exceptionally, though, because Colleen never looked more comfortable on stage. It felt less like a concert, and more like talking and singing amongst good friends. Maybe after three months of loving companionship, that’s exactly what Colleen Brown and the city of Toronto have become. And we are all the better for it.
Performing as a stripped-down duo, devoid (there I go again) of a rhythm section, is a precariously risky move for any performer. Without the thumping tribal energy provided by the classic bass/percussion backing, a singer/songwriters talents are put boldly naked on display. Every word can be heard clearly, every nuanced note critically observed and examined with a fine-tooth combed. Again, a large risk – but one that paid off in dividends as the near-capacity crowd’s attention grew evermore rapt with each passing moment. New listeners were absorbed by Collen’s powerful voice and storytelling, while fans were treated to a fresh look at old favourites.
All-in-all, it was a picture perfect way to end Toronto’s summer romance with the beautiful Colleen, although, like all summer romances, its end comes too soon. However, I know we will remain good friends, and get together every now and again and pick up right where we left off. I, for one, can hardly wait.
02. Chasing Beautiful
03. Fantastic Feeling
05. Baby Blue Eyes
07. Love You Baby
11. Really Just Need A Friend
13. Ain’t Got No Man (To Have Problems With)
15. Strangers Know Better
17. Man, Woman and Child
Thanks to Colleen Brown, Colin Cripps, Meaghan Smith, Jason Mingo and as always, everyone at the fantastic Drake Hotel.