. : : March 2nd, 2013 : : .
I’ve held back on posting this recording for a while now for a couple of reasons.
First, it occurred only a week and a half before the birth of my son — so I was otherwise preoccupied much of the time. Secondly, the online hype you’ve read about the sound quality at Massey Hall is grossly overstated: its legendary status is more for the names and performances that have graced the stage rather than the quality of sound being pumped from the speakers. Third, the members of Whitehorse were making such a big deal of the performance, going so far as to name the entire tour and a EP of cover songs “The Road To Massey Hall” that I wasn’t convinced an official recording of the set wouldn’t be eventually released. And I wasn’t completely wrong, either; the band did sell a recording of Emerald Isle from this show to benefit the victims of the infamous Boston Marathon bombing victims.
[The Boston Marathon charity is an important one to the duo of Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland; Luke was a participant and Melissa a bystander in the event. Luckily, Luke had completed the run and the two had retreated to a local watering hole by the time of the tragedy, but it rightfully remains close to the couple’s hearts. Seriously, that recording is MUCH better than anything you’ll find here and you’ll be supporting a worthy cause. Why are you still reading this? Go download it for a measly $0.99 and then come back. I’ll wait.
Alright, done? Good.]
More than a year has passed and Whitehorse has instead released an EP of selections from their two albums re-recorded en francais entitled Éphémère sans repère. I guess I’m probably safe. If anything changes, this post will be taken down accordingly.
This tape is a passable recording, but it loses the power of its umph and the energy in the high ceilings. Besides, after seeing the band perform rooms as small as the Glenn Gould Studio, the Winter Garden Theatre, and the Dakota Tavern, Massey Hall is an uncomfortably large (if admittedly logical) step up.
Of course, none of this is the fault of the band, who left their hearts on the stage this cool March evening. The band performing a massive 16-song set that hit the hour and three-quarter mark; no small feat for a band that literally builds each song piece by piece, looping percussive instruments one-by-one until a sonic onslaught of a constructed rhythm section backs the duo on stage. The mind reels at the thought of having to be a musician performing upwards up a dozen instruments in a song for the better part of two hours!
If there’s any complaint to be had, it’s the construction of the setlist that heavily favoured material from their latest LP, The Fate of the World Depends on This Kiss. Of the dozen songs in the main set, only a quarter of them were culled from the original self-titled release. No, the “classic” tunes were saved for the encore, which featured four tracks, three of which were from the self-titled disc, and one unreleased (in this formation of the band, anyway). None from The Fate Of The World…
So, yeah, the weighting was a bit off in my estimation, but it’s fairly minor complaint when one recognizes that the one-two-three punch combination of Devil’s Got A Gun, Out Like A Lion and Achilles’ Desire, all choice selections from the latest disc, filled out the middle part of the set.
That being said, diehard Whitehorse fans like myself will jump on this recording simply because of the importance of the show (and any Whitehorse is ultimately good Whitehorse). The casual and the curious amongst my readers might be better off exploring previous recordings featured on this blog, starting with either the FM captures and the excellent Dakota Tavern tape.
- Eulogy For Whiskers, I [pre-recorded]
- Killing Time Is Murder
- No Glamour In The Hammer
- Radiator Blues
- Mismatched Eyes (Boat Song)
- Crazy Mama [J.J. Cale] > Broken
- Annie Lu
- Devil’s Got A Gun
- Out Like A Lion
- Achilles’ Desire
- Passenger 24
- Night Owls
- Emerald Isle
- When The Lights Go Down In Hogtown
- I’m On Fire* [Springsteen]
* with Daniel Romano