. : : December 14th, 2011 : : .
I didn’t know I was going to get a chance at redemption for the technically marred recording of Meaghan Smith from last week until I was writing the final paragraphs of my review for the blog. In an off-hand statement, Meaghan threw a special in-store appearance at the Indigo Bookstore at the Manulife Centre in Toronto in amongst the final dates of the previously announced tour. I rubbed my eyes. Was I dreaming? Did I miss something?
I checked the blog, her Facebook, and other tour listings online, and this second Toronto show was not to be seen anywhere. Well, except on the Indigo website, and Meaghan’s Facebook status. Luckily, by chance, I had the day off, so I resolved to make my way down and get a good and proper holiday Meaghan Smith recording.
I knew the set would be a mere sampling of what Meaghan treated the crowd at The Rivoli a week earlier — as an in-store event, it’s a total corporate-funded in-and-out thing, but I knew she would ensure it would be well-worth the commute down from the suburbs.
I arrived a big early to get myself situated, and was just in time to hear Meaghan’s hus-band, Jason Mingo, soundchecking. I followed the sounds and saw they were going to be performing on the top floor in kind of an awkward spot against the railing. The speakers were turned to be facing the the stairway, so the music would travel throughout the store but only one speaker was (sort-of) turned towards the people who were, you know, actually on the floor the performance was happening, and that was the one across from the soundboard.
I made sure to snap up a spot there and hold my position until the show started. I have to admit: once it did start, in spite of the awkward set-up, the sound quality was actually really very good. Way better than I expected, and well past a bookstore in the middle of a mall has any right to sound. I was impressed.
Being a bit more familiar with Meaghan’s Christmas tunes helped urge along my enjoyment of the set, as did personally feeling a bit more festive as the holidays approach, and I didn’t find myself missing those old The Cricket’s Orchestra songs like I expected I might. Meaghan kept her heart-meltingly charming banter to an absolute minimum, and managed to roll through an impressive 5-song setlist in only a hair over fifteen minutes.
As efficient as the performance was, nothing was half-cocked. Meaghan put her wonderful pipes on display, and Jason really is a marvel to watch play. His style is fairly unique, and relies on a lot of interesting and unusual chord formations that will leave guitar players transfixed on his fretting hand.
Bluesy number Zat You Santa Claus is still a highlight amongst the mostly traditional Christmas cuts and her original song It Snowed, featuring a sampled horn section, has a laid back, jazzy feel that sounds like it’s only a stone’s throw away from her Juno award winning non-holiday themed tracks.
I don’t know if many people in the store showed up FOR Meaghan, as I did, but she did have whole crowds of people literally (get it? It’s in a bookstore!) stopping in their tracks, and seemed to get a respectable line-up of impulse sales following the set.
I expect the lovely duo to go into a winter hibernation after wrapping up the cross-Canada tour in the next few days, and hopefully when they emerge, they will have a new album of originals in tow. I can’t wait.
In the meanwhile, here’s a recording that should at least get you through the next month. The tape sounds fantastic, although there is some faint sounds of shoppers chatting and telephones ringing, it’s far less noticeable than you’d think in such an uncontrolled environment. This is amongst my best Meaghan Smith recording to date, and at less than 20-minutes long, there’s no excuse for anyone not to give it a quick download and listen over the holiday season.
BONUS: I also recorded the final song, It Snowed, on my cell phone in hi-definition. The sound quality is significantly less, but the picture quality is superb. Stream it off of YouTube below:
02. Christmas Kiss
03. Zat U Santa Claus? [Louis Armstrong]
04. The Little Drummer Boy [trad’l]
05. Silver Bells [trad’l]
06. It Snowed
Best holiday wished to Meaghan Smith, Jason Mingo and the staff at Bay/Bloor Indigo Bookstore!