. : : April 20th, 2017 : : .
Can you imagine a line up of four bands where the talent is so formidable that NQ Arbuckle opens the show, and Amelia Curran is only the second performer?
That’s exactly the set-up for Whitehorse‘s
record release party preview performance for Panther In The Dollhouse album at the Phoenix Concert Theatre as a part of Canadian Music Week, and it’s clear Six Shooter Recorders was prepared to present this show with all guns blazing (pun unfortunately intended). Luckily, the Toronto crowd knew not to miss a good thing, and although the floors hadn’t filled up by the time NQ Arbuckle got off stage, things were starting to get much cozier for Amelia’s set.
Hot on the heels of the release of her eighth(!) album, Watershed, Amelia had gathered momentum with its universal acclaim and mainstream media attention as the album that most blurred the lines between Amelia’s art and work as an advocate for mental health in Canada.
Nearly seven years since first seeing Amelia perform at North By North East, I’d described her original set as “too quiet and shy-sounding”, and that her “nerves seemed to reflect […] in the performance.”
I’d seen Amelia four times since that night in 2010 and been proven wrong time and time again — but this was the first time in a general admission club that held more than a couple hundred people. Indeed, one of my favourite performances was a duet set with Phil Sedore at Glenn Gould Studio where intimacy was vital to the success of the set. How would this transfer to the significantly larger Phoenix?
Well, if I didn’t know better, I might not recognize her as the same performer. Confident, commanding, and even charming, this performance was an altogether a different beast. Backed by a full band, Amelia was able to more than fill the spaces of the large hall with songs (almost entirely culled from the Watershed album) that are perhaps the catchiest and most accessible of her career.
Perhaps she was empowered by a modicum of comfort provided by a familiar band (this was the first time Amelia had maintained the same band mates from album-to-album), perhaps it was how tightly they performed, perhaps it was a focus on the newest, freshest songs from her expansive oeuvre. Whatever the reason, the awkward, nervously stammering Amelia from yesteryear was a distant memory.
The set closer, an especially potent protest song on rampant sexism in the music industry, became a boisterous, rambunctious, and powerful high note to punctuate the set. It was an apt punch to the stomach: here was the shy woman I’d described as “too quiet” some seven years ago now confidently standing up on a stage and confidently protesting with the refrain, “No More Quiet.”
The message was emphasized for the final chorus with classically trained vocalist and back-up singer Kate Rogers taking the spotlight for an especially soulful take on the repeated line, “No more quiet / No more sound.”
Unfortunately, it’s becoming increasingly clear there’s an issue with my Edirol recorder’s line input jack, as there’s a few bursts of static throughout the set when I pick up the device to check the sound and battery levels.Usually only lasting about ten seconds or so, they don’t devalue the quality of the performance, but the performance definitely deserved better. I think there’s about three instances where this occurs throughout the set. My apologies, and I’m looking into alternatives for future tapes!
Amelia Curran is arguably one of the best Canadian songwriters of our generation. Her storyteller lyrics are reminiscent of Leonard Cohen, but she has a singular, distinctive voice that is equally gripping and enticing. So much so, that Breakwater Books has published a collection of five albums’ worth of lyrics in a collection titled, Relics and Tunes.
If she hasn’t caught your attention yet, let me advocate strongly: this album might just be the best place the start, but there’s over a decades worth of fantastic folk / roots tunes to solidify Amelia as one of the best Canadian musicians not-enough-people have heard of before. Let’s fix that.
(This torrent originally appeared on DimeADozen.org while this blog was offline. This download is unchanged from it’s original release)
- Stranger Things Have Happened
- Sunday Bride
- Come Back For Me
- [technical difficulties]
- Song On The Radio
- No More Quiet