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Kathleen Edwards @ The Hub (Luminato 2012)

. : : June 16th, 2012 : : .

A shit ton of you have all but certainly been waiting patiently for my latest Kathleen Edwards recording. There is quite the story as to why I don’t have it for you. It could be summed up in one sentence, I am sure, but where is the fun in that?

After getting home from the previous night’s NXNE festivities, we were allotted some five hours of sleep before getting up and getting ready for a brunch meeting with out of town friends. We were scheduled to meet at 11am; more than enough time to get to the restaurant, eat, socialize, and then hit up the Luminato Festival, where Dan Mangan and Kathleen Edwards were scheduled to perform a free outdoor show. Of course, by the time everyone actually showed up to brunch, it was already half-past noon. Luckily, the same friend who chauffeured us home the previous evening was headed to the same area, cutting down massively on the lost time.

Regardless, by the time we made it to “the Hub“, Dan Mangan was already ten-odd minutes into his set. I hate starting recordings late, and as I still hadn’t even set up, figured fate had dealt his hand and we weren’t to get a good Dan Mangan tape. Instead, I took my time setting up my gear and prepared for Kathleen Edwards.

At some point, my Edirol recorder spilled from my pocket onto the ground, but seeing as the device is built like a tank, I thought nothing of it. It wasn’t until moments before Kathleen took the stage that I powered on the device to set levels. The screen was blank. I used my hand to cup the screen, hoping I couldn’t see it only because the reflection of the bright, humid sun. Nope, it was definitely blank.

I tried to record, just in case the LCD was damaged but the device was otherwise working. I frantically changed the fresh batteries, wondering if I hadn’t used duds. Nope, still nothing.

But I noticed that one of the batteries was loosely fit into its slot, twirling a bit too easily. Sure enough, the battery connecter had been injured in the fall, and had pressed almost flat. I anxiously pulled out my key chain, but the keys were much too thick to do any good. By chance, I happened to have an iPhone SIM slot key on my chain, and was able to pry the piece back, roughly into position.

With a sigh of relief, the device turned on. But without time for set up, I was taking a risk. I held a position against the gate, directly in front of the leftmost speaker, hoping the direct line of sight would provide the best sound and large speaker set up would fortify against the winds, which were slowly picking up.

If the first mistakes I made was dropping the recorder, the second one was not bringing the included wind screens. Having never recorded with this rig out doors, I vastly underestimated the microphones sensitivity. The third mistake wasn’t moving more toward the crowd in the centre.

Sure enough, the recording worked against all odds, but is absolutely marred by the sounds of the wind rustling against the microphones. If it were merely a bad recording, I would certainly swallow my pride and share, but I would alike it to standing beside someone else listening to Kathleen on their headphones while a train passes. Yeah, that bad.

Back up vocals were provided by Julie Fader, and it was a return to fold for guitarist/keyboardist Jim Bryson, but was otherwise a fairly standard Voyageur-era set for Kathleen. The set was longer than I expected for a free outdoor show, but was still a couple of songs and a lot of chatter short of a standard Kathleen Edwards performance. Perhaps because it was mid-day, perhaps because it was outdoors, and even perhaps (but less likely) because it was a free show in front of a smallish audience, but the show seemed to lack the energy and urgency Kathleen is known for.

That’s not to say there weren’t highlights — Change The Sheets still feels fueled by a tanker of vitriol, and comes at you 200mph. Blistering solos weaved in and out throughout Goodnight California and Going To Hell that didn’t lose any of their power in the daylight.

Of course, it’s just as likely as it was my perspective that was off-kilter, and not the performance itself. After all, I had a pretty shitty view, and the heat and exhaustion were quickly taking their toll.

The event, which was being streamed live on YouTube, seems to have received positive reviews, and it’s unfortunate that it doesn’t appear anyone has captured the streaming feed, and Luminato doesn’t appear to have any designs to make the performance available for on demand streaming. I’d love to have re-experienced the show with a fresh perspective, from the cool and comfort of… well, anywhere, but the heat of a vicious early summer sun.

Oh, well. I suppose I’ll just have to keep my ears and eyes open for the next time Kathleen hits a stage local to Toronto. The semi-annual Dakota Tavern show has to be coming up shortly, no?

01. [introduction]
02. Asking For Flowers
03. Empty Threat
04. Chameleon/Comedian
05. Goodnight California
06. In State
07. Soft Place To Land
08. Going To Hell
09. Back To You
10. Change The Sheets
11. [encore]
12. Six O’Clock News

Published inLive Recordings

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