Danny Michel @ Drake Underground

. : : March 20th, 2011 : : .

Katie likes to tease me for getting to concerts ridiculously early. Danny Michel‘s performance for the David Suzuki Foundation was only the third show we’ve been to together, but she’s learned quickly about my idiosyncrasies. She’s not wrong. I find getting to concerts late really stressful. I don’t know if it’s OCD, or just the nervous taper in me, but I get really uptight when running late.

So imagine what I was like, rushing from an unexpected last-minute late night at work. I started setting up my gear on the subway, running several feet of wire under my shirt into a mysterious box, which in turn, runs another wire into another mysterious box. I definitely caught the attention of at least one passenger, whose concerned look clearly betrayed his unspoken certainty that I was a suicide bomber. He might have been more nervous than me, but I think I was a safe second place. I’ve never seen anyone exit a subway car with such haste when his stop came up.

I arrived to the venue at the very nick of time, only to find out that the doors had been delayed an hour. Yup. The irony was like a punch in the stomach. Leave it to me to be the only person in Toronto who can show up late and still be an hour early. I also made the increasingly unfortunate choice to dress up a little bit. I bought a nice aqua blue shirt and matching tie on my lunch break, and threw on my suit blazer I’ve been wearing these past few warm days, and I thought I looked rather dapper. Perhaps a bit too dapper. I didn’t go get some dinner in the extra time in fear of spilling on my new outfit, so I hung around the doors and I’m pretty sure everyone who passed me mistook me for a hotel employee. I couldn’t guess how many times I was greeted politely (Oh, lovely Canadians!) and/or asked when doors were opening. It was pretty hilarious.

We were let in some 45-minutes later, and Katie and I secured my patented sweet spot at the front, allowing great sight lines and amazing sound. After a nice unexpected last-minute opening set by Steve Singh, Danny and the Full Band (a now-ongoing joke carried over from the CBC recordings at Glenn Gould Studio last October) took the stage. The set was fairly predictable from top-to-bottom (excepting some sweeeet cover snippets toward the end of the night), even for a relatively new Danny Michel fan such as myself — but that was never a hindrance. The band plays with such energy and enthusiasm that they could’ve jammed on one song for the 80-odd minutes and I would’ve left happily. As it was, I was familiar with all the songs from the last concert, which not only helped keep my attention fixed, but also allowed me to leave without regrets of his omissions.

Picking a highlights from the evening would be impossible. The jammy bookenders, The 14 Masks Of Danger and Switchman were spectacular, the quieter, solo songs in the middle (I Will Love You For Miles and Tennessee Tobacco) were breath-taking. There wasn’t a single misstep in between. Whether that’s because he has turned the crafting of a setlist to a science, or a testament to the strength of his entire body of work, I’m not sure. But let it be said that Danny Michel puts on one hell of a live show that is not to be missed, and is a true Canadian talent.

The recording itself turned out brilliantly. Sometimes I forget I’m listening to a live recording — that is, until the chatty neighbours behind me pipe up. In an otherwise near-flawless tape, the occasional chatter is the only complaint. It’s fairly minor and unobtrusive, and nothing terribly outside of expected norms. The beautiful sounding Drake Underground proved again why it is the venue to beat for best concert room in Toronto. All-in-all, it was a remarkable evening that won’t soon be forgotten.

01. [introduction]
02. The 14 Masks of Danger
03. Maybe You Kind Find It In Your Heart
04. White Lightning
05. “Spider-Man Theme”
06. [banter]
07. This Feeling
08. [banter]
09. I Will Love You For Miles
10. Tennessee Tobacco
11. The Invisible Man
12. [banter]
13. We Will Rock You [Queen] (tease)
      > Wish Willy
14. [banter]
15. Feather, Fur & Fin
16. [banter]
17. When I’m 64 [The Beatles] (tease)
18. A Message To You Rudy [The Specials] (tease)
19. Hungry Like The Wolf [Duran Duran]
      > Who’s Gonna Miss You? [abandoned]
20. Cars [Gary Numan] (tease)
21. Whip It [Devo] (tease)
22. Who’s Gonna Miss You?
23. [encore]
24. [banter]
25. Switchman

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The Invisible Man (Live In Toronto) [MP3 sample]

Thanks to Danny Michel and The Full Band, The David Suzuki Foundation, everyone at the marvelous Drake Hotel, and Katie!

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