Maria Taylor @ Drake Underground

. : : February 9th, 2014 : : .

I’ve seen every Maria Taylor show performed in Toronto for the last seven years. So, although I haven’t taped a proper live show for almost a year due to gear malfunctions (the mic people blame the recorder, the recorder people blame the mics, and both will charge me an arm and a leg to verify their claims), I was compelled to break the unfortunate streak and had back out to the beautiful Drake Hotel (who, by the way, are celebrating ten years of awesome-iversary!) with minimal equipment.

I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. I’ve only recorded a full band live on my Edirol’s built in microphones once before, years ago at the Dakota Tavern but, after spending the afternoon helping my brother move into his new apartment, I headed out with just the recorder and the lightly used batteries held within anyway.

Let me frame the beginning of this review by saying I did a fair amount of Googling in anticipation for the show, looking for a set list or at least a clue to what to expect in song selection and performance length. The only thing I found for the entirety of the tour was a review for the Vancouver show some weeks ago. The article complained about the crowd size (about fifteen people) and the band’s heavily favoring of material from the new album, Something About Knowing.

Hmph. Not sure if the band drastically changed up the set since then, or if the reviewer was confused, but Maria and her band opened with Overlook‘s fantastic rocker, Matador, featuring Maria on drums. Although the second song was admittedly the title track from Something About Knowing, she spent much of the remainder of the evening bouncing back to classic tracks from her first solo album, In fact, the song count looks something like this: four tracks from 11:11 (2005), two from Lynn Teeter Flower (2007), two from LadyLuck (2009), two from Overlook (2011), and three from Something About Knowing (2013). I’d say the classics got more than their fair of representation, and if anything, a disservice was done to the new album, with more than 2/3s of it being left off the set list altogether.

That’s not to say the selection of songs was chosen unwisely. The newer songs from the last two discs were some of the poppier, upbeat tracks that fit extremely well alongside the older material, and kept the Sunday evening crowd dancing and singing along throughout the night.

I had all but written off Maria after her last show at the Drake. Then, in the third trimester, she now finds herself a mother to a two year old son. I expected the new role to slow down her musical output, or at least dampen the frequency of which she tours the US and Canada, but sure enough, this tour she packed little Myles into a car with her mom, threw the band in the van, and headed out for this string of shows.

At the end of this, the penultimate show of the tour (heh), she joked that it might be another 17-years before she’s able to get back out on the road and perform. It would be heartbreaking if it were true (it isn’t), but I’m not convinced she could have gone out on a better note. This show more than paid respects to the road that led her here, but also acknowledged the new material that inspired the tour. The band was firing on all cylinders, and for a new mom in constant want of sleep, Maria played with an unexpected energy and exuberance.

The recording itself turned out better than I expected, but placing the recorder down on a table to ensure it remained still meant its line of sight was directly pointed at the venue’s subs. Although a little post production trickery had dramatically dropped the boominess of the recording, it still favours the bass guitar and drums — especially if you’re listening back with a stereo with a subwoofer. Otherwise, very clean and clear with little crowd noise. A good tape that’s well worth the time and bandwidth for a fan.

And, if we’re both very lucky, you might just see another Maria Taylor recording on this blog well before 2031.

01. Matador
02. [banter]
03. Something About Knowing
04. [banter]
05. Song Beneath The Song
06. [banter]
07. Cartoons and Forever Plans
08. Leap Year
09. [banter]
10. Birmingham 1982
11. Replay
12. [banter]
13. Tunnel Vision
14. Orchids
15. [banter]
16. Bad Idea?
17. [banter]
18. Up All Night
19. [banter]
20. Clean Getaway
21. Xanax

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Replay (Live In Toronto) [MP3 sample]

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