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Category: Live Recordings

Nicole Atkins @ Lee’s Palace

Nicole Atkins @ Lee's Palace
Nicole Atkins @ Lee’s Palace

. : : February 17th, 2008 : : .

There was something I loved about British girl-group, the Pipettes, that defied all logic.

I mean, they were the product of everything I hated about those late 90-s girl-groups (and boy-bands); contrived, manufactured, and reliant on that grrl-powered gimmick that the Spice Girls perfected a decade earlier.

Maybe it was the nostalgic 60s sound and matching costumes, or the infectiously cotton-candy sweet songs, but I just couldn’t get enough of them, and was thrilled to catch them performing at Lee’s Palace.

I knew nothing of opening band Nicole Atkins and the Sea, and it was a clever (but risk-taking) promoter who teamed her up with the Pipettes. While the Pipettes were sugar-coated, 60’s pop throwback with two-and-a-half minute, hook-filled pop songs, Nicole Atkins was orchestral-infused rock-teetering-on-punk with a voice so powerful it barely needed a microphone to be heard at the back of the venue.

Dwayne Gretzky @ Private Rehearsal Studio

Dwayne Gretzky's New Years Eve
Dwayne Gretzky’s New Years Eve

. : : December 31st, 2020 : : .

Going to concerts in my twenties and going to concerts in my thirties have proven to be very different experiences.

In my twenties, I could quite literally go online, check out the line-up at a few of my favourite venues for the evening, and just choose to go out and see a performance impulsively.

In my thirties, it’s a whole other affair. I have to arrange sitters for my kids, schedule work around the evening, worry about back up plans if the sitter bails last minute, etc.

Whereas ten years ago, my only punishment was a mild level of sleep deprivation at work the following day, I now find that I’m yawning before the opening band even takes the stage and it can be a week following before I’m back to a normal sleeping schedule.

All of this is compounded for event concerts. Forget about travelling out of town or multi-day festivals: what do you think it’s like to get a reliable, trust-worthy sitter on New Years Eve in suburban Toronto?

Needless to say, although it’s been on my wish list since inception, I’ve never been able to make it out to Dwayne Gretzky‘s celebrated New Years Eve shows.

Whitehorse @ Six Shooter Records

Whitehorse
Whitehorse @ Six Shooter Records

. : : December 4th, 2020 : : .

I’m not going to preface this particular entry with too much context on COVID-19, 2020, and live music. I ranted and raved about it in excess on my previous post.

I will take a minute to talk about Whitehorse, a band many visitors to this blog are now well acquainted with, and give some context on their 2020 (if you would be so kind as to indulge me).

Whitehorse is a husband and wife musical duo with decades long resumes that cover the gauntlet and have taken them around the world. Their talent is immeasurable, and their success remarkable — but not incalculable.

Hannah Georgas @ SiriusXM

Hannah Georgas

2020 was … unusual.

Gripped by a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, relegated to stay-at-home orders and curfews, live concerts stopped being a thing. At least, in the typical sense of the phrase.

Pivoting to engage fanbases, generate income, and continue to spark creative drive, musicians began to take up live-streaming performances en masse. Like many live performances, the quality varied.

Usually, things like the venue, PA system, and sound person on duty were deciding factors on sound and visuals, but now it was the artists’ home studio set-up, internet upload speed, and network congestion. And to say it’s been a learning curve for everyone would be putting it somewhat mildly. However, as the year wore on, the quality by and large improved.

The new challenge arising as 2020 came to a close was not how much will I enjoy this live stream, and turned more toward how many live streams can I enjoy?

The Autumn Portrait @ Cameron House

The Autumn Portrait
The Autumn Portrait @ Cameron House

. : : July 4th, 2012 : : .

Revisiting concerts from the better part of a decade ago has definitely proven to be an exercise in understanding just how poor my memory is.

I can’t say I remember a ton about this particular set from The Autumn Portrait. I do remember the songs being somewhat pretty, the band fighting to be heard over the nosier band performing in the next room, and a radio personality from the local classic rock radio station being in attendance.

Listening back almost eight and a half years later, it’s like I’m experiencing it again for the first time. The feeling is odd: the band is now defunct, but frontman Freddit Mojallal is still going at it, under the moniker Freddie Future.

Of course, with a name like Freddie Future and a former band name like The Autumn Portrait, you can probably get a pretty good idea of stylistic differences you might expect.

Noel Johnson @ Cameron House

Noel Johnson
Noel Johnson @ Cameron House

. : : July 4th, 2012 : : .

I recorded Noel Johnson‘s mid-lineup set, book-ended by Colleen Brown and the Autumn Portrait, at the Cameron House backroom on a 4th of July evening back in 2012.

My memories of the night have faded with age, but I have lingering impressions of a solid night of music performed to an almost-entirely empty room.

I also remember being impressed with the sound and wondering why I hadn’t been to the well-known Cameron House before. Well, I haven’t been since either, but listening back to the recording while doing this write-up provides a compelling reason why I should (y’know, once going to live concerts is a thing that people can do again)!

Royal Wood @ CBC Studio 211

Royal Wood
Royal Wood @ Studio 211

. : : March 2014 : : .

Royal Wood was one of my early Canadian Music Week discoveries. His powerful piano pop performances of songs Do You Recall and On Top of Your Love immediately made me a fan, and I ended up seeing him live 4-times in about 14-months spanning 2010-2011.

Alas! Other musical acts became a distraction, and he had slipped off my radar a bit when his follow up album, We Were Born To Glory, came out.

I did capture a couple of performances Royal did for CBC’s First Play Live program that aired shortly after the album’s release, but the station’s running interview tracks over top the first verses of the songs annoyed me to no end, and I didn’t give them the attention they deserve.

Kathleen Edwards @ Massey Hall

Kathleen Edwards
Kathleen Edwards @ Massey Hall

. : : May 4th, 2018 : : .

Concert-going wise, I have a few regrets.

Many of them either before I was old enough to afford my own tickets or after I started a family of my own, and expendable income became a distant, laughable memory or the past.

From the latter category: Kathleen Edwards, seemingly out of nowhere, was advertised to have an opening slot for Matt Mays at Massey Hall.

Now, I’m not gonna lie: I have no idea who Matt Mays is. I’m an admittedly horrible Canadian. But I do know Massey Hall, and I’ve written here before about how it’s probably my least favourite venue in the city.

Kathleen Edwards @ City Winery, NY

Kathleen Edwards
Kathleen Edwards @ City Winery

. : : January 31st, 2013 : : .

There’s something to be said about wineries.

Not content to merely be fancified drinking holes, North American wineries have diversified into premiere hot spots of arts and culture.

It is hardly any wonder that musicians, perhaps some of the greatest patrons of potent potables, seem to flock to them like moths to lamplight.

As a sober person, I can see and appreciate the appeal. It extends the relaxation and social aspects of concert-going throughout the afternoon. Or, if you’re there for the booze, you get to top your day off with a musical performance.

Because it’s not their primary purpose, these wineries are often smaller, intimate venues. The wine barrels give them warm, rustic ambiance. All-in-all, pretty great places for artist and fan to see a show.

City Winery is a chain of wineries throughout the US, and although I can’t claim to have visited one, “Keith from NY”‘s recording of Kathleen Edwards performing there in 2013 makes a strong case.

Kathleen Edwards @ BBC Radio

Kathleen Edwards
Kathleen Edwards @ BBC

. : : June 7th, 2007 : : .

Bob Harris’ radio show for BBC Radio 2 co-sponsored the NXNE event that first introduced me to Kathleen Edwards. Harris was fond of the roots rock scene in Canada, and was known to promote it on the other side of the pond whenever possible.

It’s hard to say whether or not that concert — you know, the one that introduced me to Kathleen, Jim Bryson, Luke Doucet, Melissa McClelland, Justin Rutledge, Oh Susanna, etc. — would have still happened without his support and the Beeb’s agreement to record it for airing on his program. I like to imagine it wouldn’t have: it was a confluence of random happenstance that brought all these acts together, and me to that room.

I then have to give a lot of credit to Bob and the BBC for their part in my obsession with deep fondness of these performers and their music.