concerts

CONCERT REVIEW: Claypool Lennon Delirium – Danforth Music Hall – Toronto, April 10 2019

CLAYPOOL LENNON DELIRIUM – Danforth Music Hall – Toronto, April 10 2019 

By Uncle Meat

 

Sometimes you go to Rock shows and are blown away by the venue, or the sound of the band, or the band itself, or something extra special happens.  Usually you are lucky to be subjected to one or two of these wonderful things.  It’s rare when all these things happen at once to make truly iconic memories you could never possibly forget.  This happened for me last night.  Music is the gift that keeps on giving.

Found out yesterday morning that I was going to see Claypool Lennon Delerium at the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto.  Special thanks to friend and fellow Sausagefester Aaron Stepaniuk for inviting me.  I had never been to the venue, nor had I ever seen Les Claypool perform.  I found it interesting as well that it was the very first show of their tour, showcasing their new album South of Reality.

Walking into the venue during the opening band, instantly I loved the Danforth Music Hall.  Very cool place to see a show.  Warming up the proceedings was someone by the name of Jim James.  All I knew was that he used to be the singer for a band I know nothing about called My Morning Jacket.  I was informed on the way to Toronto by Aaron’s girlfriend Rachel that there is an American Dad episode basically dedicated to “the angelic voice of” Jim James.  Gonna have to check out some American Dad.  The few songs we caught I deemed as “whispy”.  It wasn’t bad but didn’t resonate with me.  Jim James’ look reminded me of Daryl Hall dressed as the Joker and I was kinda glad when it ended so we could go out and smoke a huge joint.

As I am hauling off of this Buck-constructed, Buck-approved monster of a spliff, a door opens beside me, (I was too concerned with smoking this massive joint to even realise we were standing right beside an equally massive tour bus) and while I’m taking a healthy drag out walks Geddy Lee.  Yes…THAT Geddy Lee.   I almost exhaled the drag right into his nose, he was that close to me.  Instantly I started wondering if he could be getting on stage, but that stuff never actually happens for real…Right?

The show starts off with Pink Floyd’s “Astronomy Domine”.  I knew they might do some covers since they released an EP of covers in 2017 called Lime and Limpid Green.  On that note, the covers played that night were epic songs that most bands wouldn’t dare even try.  “Astronomy Domine”, “Boris the Spider” and “The Court of the Crimson King” are songs that you MUST play well live to even consider such an idea.  Interspersed throughout the covers were songs from their 2016 debut album Monolith of Phobos and their newest album South of Reality.  I enjoyed everything I heard that night.  First of all, Claypool and Sean Lennon can both sing very well and both comfortable in a high vocal range. The keyboard player also sang backup vocals.  No matter if it was Lennon or Claypool taking lead vocals, the background vocals were top-shelf fucking glorious.  This aspect was a definite highlight of the show.  I was there to see Claypool and he didn’t disappoint whatsoever.  However Sean Lennon was a bit of a revelation to me.  He is an amazing singer and a much better guitar player than I would have imagined.

The stage banter between Les Claypool and Sean Lennon (or “Shiner” as Les kept referring to him as) was comfortable and cool.   After some more of their anecdotes, the drummer breaks into a very familiar drum pattern.  I turned to my buddy Bucky and said “They aren’t really gonna play this are they?” The rest of the band started to join in and yeppers , they are playing Tomorrow Never Knows, written by the guitar player’s father.  You may have heard of him.  I can see off stage as a stage hand is standing there with a bass in his hand.  He hands it to an emerging shadow and out walks Mr. Geddy Fucking Lee, possibly still on a contact high from the joint smoking he walked through earlier.  Now I am watching Sean Lennon sing his late father’s song with two of the greatest bass players of all time on stage.  You cant make this shit up.  This kinda stuff never really happens and now it is happening.  As they are jamming out the song hard, Les Claypool does one of the coolest things I have ever seen.  He takes off his bass and starts kinda bowing to Geddy Lee with a huge smile on his face, gives a little “see ya” nod to the audience and walks off stage, leaving now only Geddy finishing “Tomorrow Never Knows” with the band.  For a couple minutes it was actually The Lennon Geddy LEErium.  The respect and tribute that Claypool shone upon Geddy by the nod and walking off stage will be a top 5 (Or higher) concert moment for me.  I had the utmost respect for Claypool before this night.  With one little wave to the crowd and the walk-off, he made my Rock & Roll heart melt.  I so wish Tom Morwood was there.  He would have cried like a big bearded baby.

The band walked off and came back for an encore.  Claypool says something like, “Gotta love when guys like Geddy Van Halen just walk on stage.  That’s what still gets my dick erect”.  The Delerium then went into their lone encore song, Primus’s “Southbound Pachyderm”.  It totally kicked ass with a sensational bass groove.  What a show.

What more could you ask for?  Did that really just happen?  Mind…Blown.

 

GUEST CONCERT REVIEW: KISS – Toronto – Scotiabank Arena March 20 2019 by Uncle Meat

UNCLE MEAT:  Well…I guess tonight I experience the controversy head on.

LeBRAIN:  What’s tonight?

MEAT:  Members of Black N’ Blue and Badlands.

LB:  Kiss?  You are going?  If so you are REQUIRED to write something for me. Or else!!

MEAT:  Old buddy, Scott Hunter, who I saw Kiss with twice in 1982 and 1983, messages me out of nowhere and has a paid-for ticket. Him and his buddy have VIP but only two, but who cares.  They had the Vault Experience with Gene last year too.

LB:  Go go go.

MEAT:  Only been 36 years since I saw Kiss live.  Mid-arena, 20 rows up.

LB:  It’s gonna be sad I think. Just my feeling.

MEAT:  Fairly good tickets. But yeah. The spectacle is the part to enjoy I guess.

LB:  I hope you have a good time.  But seriously if you don’t write this up for me, I am going to probably hurt you very badly. You won’t see it coming. Maybe we will be driving to the farm and I will punch your nuts so hard that you bleed from your ears. Just saying. Not that you “owe” me anything, you just have to. Or have your nuts tenderised. Your choice! You won’t see it coming but it will happen!

 

– Toronto – Scotiabank Arena, March 20 2019
Review by Uncle Meat

Kiss in 2019 was the best “show” I have ever seen.  Easily.

What about the singing?  I had watched a cool video the other day, where a guy pointed out in each song where Paul is lip syncing and where he is actually singing.  Which was good because before that I thought it was pretty much all tape. That being said, I could notice both last night.  It’s like he is trying some songs’ verses (or what have you) on different nights. But, 60% of the vocals (at least) were the same as they had been on other stops. I have heard the “Love Gun” track several times, how the verses have been re-recorded, and he does exactly the same inflections within the verses.

BUT!!!

Truth is? 20 seconds in, and I didn’t give a shit.  And while I hold the same opinion about it, it literally took ZERO away from a show I can only describe as almost perfect.

Gene sings 100% of his vocals, at least on the verses, and was kinda goofy all night.  More aloof than he usually is. Less Demon. More Mike Myers.  He is getting fat in the face though, wow…he looked like Bea Arthur in Gene makeup.

Paul still is on the very top shelf of frontmen, as per between-song banter.  He had me right in the trenches, clapping along, laughing out loud several times, just fuckin’ entertaining.

Eric Singer was a great drummer.  LOVED his voice in “Black Diamond”, and really really enjoyed “Beth”.  Like alot.  Surprising.

I was really blown away by Tommy Thayer’s guitar tone.  Fucking powerful, and creamy.  He changed just enough of the Ace solos to put his mark on it, but leaving the important parts of the solo in to suit the songs.  Great set list too.  “100,000 Years” and “Let Me Go, Rock and Roll” were serious highlights.

4.5/5 steaks 

The missing 1/2 steak only because of the lip-sync stuff.

 

 

 

 

#696: Confession

TRIGGER WARNING:  Emotional material ahead.

 

 

GETTING MORE TALE #696:  Confession

Music is the most wonderful of hobbies.  Scratch that — it’s not a hobby when you love music.  It is your lifestyle.  It’s healthy, it’s fun, and it can open up feelings you didn’t know you had.  I’m glad that music is my life.

As much as I cherish music, and try to spend some time with it every single day, there is one huge hole in my life:  The concert experience.

You could argue that music is best enjoyed at a good concert.  There is magic in a live performance; a kind of telepathy that occurs between the players on stage.  Then their collective sound and vision is pumped at 120 decibels to the hungry audience.  The crowd is like a single entity with one voice.  There is no substitute for the live concert experience.  No Blu-ray could ever hope to match it, not even at 1080p with 5.1 surround sound.

Yet, I’ve seen only a few dozen concerts over the years.  I can’t even remember my last one.

I would love to have new concert reviews for you every single week.  The most popular post on this site in its six years of operation is a concert review.

It’s true that I don’t get out as often as others might.  Some of this is because my beautiful wife has been battling with uncontrolled epilepsy for the last decade.  Her health struggles have turned me into a bit of a homebody.  I’m not complaining.  Being her support is a privilege.  I’ve always been a bit of a homebody, but it’s certainly gotten worse as her health got worse.  The good news is that not only has Mrs. LeBrain beaten cancer, but she has also managed to reduce her seizures to one or two a week.  A regular week, anyway.  A week with stress or lots of travel can cause more.

How has she managed to handle her epilepsy so well?  Lots of self care.  Plenty of pre-planning for every outing, a few taxi cab rides, lots of caution, and a little bit of Canada’s best prescription marijuana.  I’ve seen it work.

She can’t go to movies and she can’t go to concerts, and we’ve accepted that.  It hasn’t been easy.  When Jen worked at Research in Motion, their free company concert was U2 in Toronto.  She wanted to go so badly.  She was willing to go blindfolded if she had to.  Every U2 Blackberry ad on TV was a bitter reminder that Jen could not do what other people take for granted.

But that’s no excuse for me missing out on shows.  Maybe I lost my concert wing(wo)man, but I’m a grown up.  Right?

So we get to the crux of it:  my confession.

I’ve never really gotten into any of this in public before.  A few friends know.  I’ve lived with it long enough.  I used to care what friends, random strangers, or potential future employers would think of me.  I was ashamed of myself.

Over the years I’ve developed a severe fear of crowds.  It’s always been there, but it got a lot worse in my 20s.  If I was with people I knew and trusted, I could control it.  I first confessed my fear of crowds to T-Rev back when we were roommates in 1998.  He used to like to go clubbing at the Flying Dog up in Waterloo.  I went with him twice, and it was OK.  I had a good enough time.  But I needed my wingman.  T-Rev was wise.  “The best way to beat your fear of crowds is just to face it.  Try to have fun.”  He’s right to a certain degree.  The Flying Dog just wasn’t the best place to try and beat a fear of crowds.  Packed with douchebags and girls that I thought were way too hot for me, anxiety piled up on top of more anxiety.

I did better at small concerts.  There was a joint in town called The Banke.  A lot of our friends played there.  The more often I went, the more comfortable I was.  You start to recognise other faces, and familiar faces and places are soothing for anxiety.  It was good while it lasted.  T-Rev’s life path took him to a lovely wife and two kids, three hours away in Sarnia, Ontario.  He was a good wingman, because he understood me.

Having a wingman is really important.  A few weeks ago I went to TF Con in Toronto.  My buddy Jay asked me, “So how does this make you feel with your fear of crowds?”  I told him it didn’t bother me at all because he was my wingman.  (Also it’s not a very intimidating crowd.  I could bowl them over with a sneeze.)  I’ve had a panic attack at a farmer’s market, but not a TF Con.

There have been a couple incidents that happened at concerts.  Jen had a fall at Rush — that one was upsetting.  She had a seizure at Trailer Park Boys, which was the last time she went to any kind of show.  The association of these events with concerts just made me…more sour.

When Jen got sicker and sicker, so did I.  I became a tense, nervous mess, and it was almost all the time.  Something had to give, so when I couldn’t take it anymore I sought help.  Family and friends made sure that I did.  It took some pushing, because I am stubborn by nature.  Help is available, but you have to work at it.  Medication doesn’t fix everything, and it has its own costs on both your body and your wallet.  You have to unlearn what you have learned.  Then, you have to practice better ways of dealing with situations.  It’s hard work.  It’s also life long work.  You will stumble and there will be pain.

In spring 2016 I was in Ottawa visiting family.  By coincidence, both the Killer Dwarfs and rock journalist Mitch Lafon happened to be in town that weekend.  The Dwarfs were playing the Brass Monkey, and Mitch was going to check them out.  Knowing I was in town, Mitch asked me if I wanted to come and meet him at the show.

It’s painful remembering this.

Of course I wanted to go see the Dwarfs.  Of course I wanted to meet Mitch!  I have been a fan of both for a long, long time!  Mitch is the premiere go-to guy in hard rock today.  Not only would it be a personal thrill, but meeting Mitch and taking a selfie with him would have been a fantastic bonus to top off a Killer Dwarfs concert review.

I turned him down.

Out of respect for the man, I told him the truth.  I wasn’t prepared to handle a crowd that night.

Mitch promised to keep my secret, and he’s been really supportive to me.

It might be frustrating for some, but it helps me a lot to deal with anxious situations if I know in advance, and I can prepare myself mentally for it.  I admit I can be very frustrating sometimes.  I’m lucky that Jen gets me.  She’s one of the only people in the world who truly gets me.  Jen and my grandmother really know how my brain works.

It barely works, but it works!

I have my ups and my downs, and it’s largely dictated by how I respond to daily challenges.  I confess that I have not tried to challenge myself in a long time.  When was my last concert?  I used to love going out to see stand up comedy, too.

I’ve been itching to see live music again.  I think I can handle it.  I’ll go slow.  I won’t start by going to see Bryan Adams at the Arena.

Something smaller and more local would be good.

Hey!  Would you look at that?

It looks like I have to be ready by February.  Sasquatch is coming to town!  Sasquatch: The Opera that is, composed by Roddy Bottum of the band Faith No More.  Four shows, February 14th through to the 17th, 2019 at the Registry Theatre in Waterloo.  And I happen to know the promoter.  I’ve been promised an interview with Roddy about the musical, and ideally I would like to see all four shows.  I’m not worried about the interview, but I do need to beat my anxiety to go to the shows.

This is called having a “S.M.A.R.T.” goal.

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-based

Is my goal specific?  Yes.  I want to see the Roddy Bottum show.  Measurable?  Yes.  It’s as simple as go/don’t go. Achievable?  I believe a realistic goal would be to make it to, at minimum, one of the four shows.  Bonus points for anything more.  Is my goal relevant to my situation?  Absolutely.  It is a big part of it.  And is it time-based?  You bet.  Can’t procrastinate on this one, February is gonna come one way or the other!

I’m hoping to have Dr. Dave or Uncle Meat as wingmen for a show.  Dr. Dave is, in fact, a believer in the real Sasquatch!

I believe in baby steps so I think a good plan would be to try and see a small show in advance of the Bottum musical.  It’s exactly like building up a tolerance.  My tolerance has slipped a lot over the years so I have to build it back up again.  I’m trying to be proactive.

That’s my confession, and I have to admit, it really does feel good to get it out!  Did I have to do it publicly?  No, but I’m sick and tired of lying to people every time the subject of concerts comes up.  Here’s the truth.  Think whatever you want to.  All I really want to come out of this is somebody out there to read it and say, “Hey, I get it too.”  There are bullies in the world who would pick on me if they read this.  I don’t care.  They can pick on me for a lot of things already.

I accept that crowds and I might never be good friends.  I just want us to get along.

CONCERT REVIEW: Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Zombie, In This Moment 1/21/08

Review written January 22, 2008.  Dedicated to Peter M. Cavan!

OZZY OSBOURNE/ROB ZOMBIE/IN THIS MOMENT live at the ACC, Toronto Ontario, 01/21/08, on the Black Rain tour

OZZYWhen you pay $100 a ticket you’d better get a hell of a show, no pun intended. While Rob Zombie rose to the occasion and put on the show of a lifetime, Ozzy Osbourne stumbled, carried only by his seasoned band and the love of a metal craving audience.

First up were newcomers In This Moment, who played a short 4 song set to a half filled house. Singer Maria Brink managed to get the crowd going even though most of them didn’t know there was a third band on the bill. Coming out in her trademark blue dress, and screaming her lungs out, I could not believe the power in this woman’s voice. The whole band was hampered by horrible sound which unfortunately rendered her screaming and singing unintelligible. However, at one point she let loose and screamed for a good 30 seconds straight…how she does this is beyond me, I sure can’t! In This Moment played their hit “Beautiful Tragedy” second-to-last and then revved up the audience to see Rob Zombie.

This was Zombie’s last night of the tour, and his crew played pranks on In This Moment through most of their set, however it was dead serious once Zombie hit the stage. Hidden by curtains, the audience could not see Zombie’s amazing stage set until the lights came up. And that was not to happen before we were treated to a surprise: Rob Zombie’s Grindhouse trailer “Werewolf Women Of The S.S.” starring Nicholas Cage as…FU MANCHU! (Zombie is considering making a full movie based on this trailer.)

Then the lights came up, dancing girls on either side of a giant devil head, and band roaring. The head cracked open and an adrenalized Rob Zombie emerged to “American Witch”! What an entrance.

John 5 was at the top of his game on guitar, playing with his teeth, behind his back, throwing his instrument all over the stage. For his guitar solo he even played a snippet of “Oh Canada”, but more on that shortly.

Zombie played all the hits with tons of syncopated pyro behind him, so much that you could feel it from the nosebleeds. “Dragula”, “Living Dead Girl”, “Thunderkiss ’65” and of course “More Human Than Human” were all played expertly, Zombie himself all over the stage at all times. He had ample video footage behind him, showing original film footage from House Of 1000 Corpes, The Devil’s Rejects, his own animation, and classic horror films such as Nosferatu.

Zombie’s crowning moment was during John 5’s guitar solo, at which point he grabbed two flashlights and headed into the crowd, all backed by John 5’s incredible shredding. I mean, come on folks…this is the guitar player that David Lee Roth chose to stand where Eddie Van Halen, Steve Vai, Steve Hunter and Jason Becker have stood.

The only thing wrong the whole Rob Zombie show is that there was so much going on at once, with the video screens, dancing girls, drumming robots, props, lights, and pyro, that you can’t see it all at once. I would like to see Rob Zombie twice or three times…difficult now that his tour is over!

A short break ensued, and then we were treated to some video footage courtesy of the Ozzman. It was a humourous medley of popular film and TV footage from the last year, all recut to star Ozzy himself! Imagine Ozzy in: The Queen. Or Ozzy under Azamat’s ass in Borat! It was good stuff, but unfortunately it underlined that the once and future singer of Black Sabbath has now become something of a joke himself.

Ozzy and his band (Zakk Wylde on guitar, Mike Bordin on drums, Blasko on bass, and Adam Wakeman on keys) then blasted through his first single from the new Black Rain CD, “I Don’t Wanna Stop”. A great opener, unfortunately hard to appreciate with Zakk Wylde’s guitar sounding so harsh in the ACC. Ozzy played most of the classics with very few surprises: “Bark At The Moon”, “Suicide Solution”, “Crazy Train”, “I Don’t Know”, “Mr. Crowley”, “Road To Nowhere” and “Not Going Away” from the new CD.

Ozzy’s problem, both as a solo artist and with Black Sabbath, is his unwillingness to change his setlists. While I’m sure everybody there would have died and gone to heaven if Ozzy played a song like “You Can’t Kill Rock And Roll” or “Diary Of A Madman”, his setlist was based almost entirely around his Blizzard of Ozz and No More Tears CDs. Too predictable, Ozzman. His other problem is his lack of range. His voice cracked many times, and the band lowered the key for him the old songs.

A few disappointing choices: Ozzy did not play “No More Tears”, but instead treated us to the overrated “I Don’t Wanna Change The World”. And for an encore, yes, of course…”Mama I’m Coming Home”. Shame about that, as there are so many better songs to play. “Mama” sure did get the cigarette lighters out [see picture below].

Zakk Wylde did a ridiculous 10 minute guitar solo, which sounded mostly like razorblades coming at your ears. He too played with his teeth, but it was only when he quoted Randy Rhoads’ classic “Suicide Solution” live solo that sparks flew.

As a last song, of course, Ozzy played “Paranoid”. He had to. He couldn’t show up and not play any Sabbath material, although “Iron Man” and “War Pigs” didn’t make his short set. Shame, considering that he reminded the audience that Toronto is where he recorded Never Say Die.

In the end, we all got tired of Ozzy’s endless “I can’t fucking hear you” and “Go extra extra extra crazy!” When Ozzy shouted “I still can’t fucking hear you” for the 100th time, people started responding, “Because you’re fucking deaf”!

There was no question that Ozzy came, saw, and conquered because of his excellent band and the love that the crowd had for him, but it was also obvious that this was Rob Zombie’s show, and there was nothing Ozzy could have done to change that, aside from bringing Randy Rhoads back from the dead.

In This Moment – 3/5 stars
Rob Zombie – 5/5 stars
Ozzy Osbourne – 3.5/5 stars

ozzy

 

GUEST CONCERT REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac 2/04/2015

GUEST REVIEW by BOPPIN


FLEETWOOD MAC – Live, February 4 2015 at the Air Canada Center, Toronto

Before reviewing the concert I have to give a brief history of my introduction to Fleetwood Mac. In the early 90’s, one of my buddies took out whatever hair band CD was in the player and put in Fleetwood Mac Rumours. WTF is that crap? It sounded like the love child of ABBA and The Eagles! After a while the band grew on me. I wasn’t exactly going to cruise down main street with Fleetwood Mac blasting out the T-tops, but I did start to enjoy it. It became one of my guilty pleasures, and my wife loves them, so this is a bonus.

Fast forward to February 4 2015. My wife and I were early, so we got to our seats before the show started. The band was not on time, but only 20 minutes or so behind schedule. By Axl Rose standards, they were 2 hours early. This gave me time to Google the setlist as I always do before a concert. 24 songs and two encores. 24 songs? Holy crap. I also read reviews of many of the recent shows. All glowing love-fests proclaiming Fleetwood Mac as the next best thing since sliced bread, with nary a whisper of negativity. Well. We shall see about that.

The lights dim and we see the shadows of band members entering the stage. The crowd roars. When the music starts you get a feeling why this band has remained so popular. The rhythm section of this band is awesome. These guys are in their late 60’s, and they still sound incredible. John McVie is the guy that likes to stay in the background. I don’t think I ever saw any hint of showmanship from him, but he played his bass flawlessly, and that is all you can ask. Mick Fleetwood is a really underrated drummer. His talents are not shown off in the mostly pop rock songs that made the band famous, but over the years I have heard enough of his songs to know he has what it takes. And for his age, he still has it. Lindsey Buckingham is a guitarist that wasn’t on my radar: until I saw him live. He was not awesome, but a very unique guitar player. For starters, he does not play with a pick. I have seen many players play acoustic without a pick but not many electric players. His right thumb seems to act kind of like a pick, but his right hand fingers do this kind of spastic fingerpicking that is hard to describe. Kind of like, if he was trying to flick crumbs from all of his fingers at the same time. I can’t quite figure out how the guitar sounds so good when his thumb and all 4 fingers seem to be flicking at the strings at the same time. But it works.

Piano and accordion duties were handled by Christine McVie. Her strength however is her vocal prowess. All I can say is that anyone that saw this band in the last 16 years prior to this tour should ask for their money back. She left the band during that time due to an intense fear of flying. What an absolute loss that was. She completes this band, the way Van Halen was completed when David Lee Roth came back. They were great without him, but awesome with him. Her voice is so crisp and it reminds me of the first robin you hear in the spring. You can’t help but smile. For a 71 year old lady, she still looks and sounds beautiful. Kind of like an older Judith Light. She must have been a real force to deal with in her heyday.

The final member is the resident scarf twirler, tambourine banging, top hat wearing lady named Stevie Nicks — probably the most famous member of the band. She is the only member to have a productive solo career. Unfortunately life, and possibly hard partying have caught up to Stevie. Her voice is down at least 1 octave, and she can’t hit the high notes anymore. She still has a great stage presence and she is possibly better at her age than some singers in their prime.

MAC 2

Now for the bad.

“Tusk”. The mere mention of this song turns me off. However, I did prefer the live version of this song to the original, but that is not saying much.

“Second Hand News” is my favourite song by this version of the band. This live rendition however was ruined by whatever annoying sound effect they had in place of the bass line that the original had. And the “bowm bowm bowm bowm bowm…” is a little off. It might be too fast paced for the elder statesmen.

Even though I commended Lindsey, he is not without fault. His voice progressively got worse as the night wore on. I was hoping they would actually mute his mike, and just let his guitar do the talking. When he did a vocal solo, his voice reminded me of a pre-pubescent mixed with The Hobbit. I was waiting for him to say “precious’. There were also times in the night that he yelled and screamed much louder than he needed to. And I won’t even mention the skinny jeans he borrowed from One Direction.

The song choices could have been better in my opinion. There were a few duds near the middle, and even one song from the Peter Green era would have been nice. Not many people realize the band did “Black Magic Woman” before Santana. Also, they could have done a cover of “Werewolves of London”. John and Mick were the rhythm section on the Warren Zevon song. These would have been good substitutions.

Stevie Nicks though a good stage presence, kind of reminds me of an old hippie cat lady from Woodstock, New York. She is about three puffs on a reefer away from being bat shit crazy. She was rambling a few times during the night. Something about Lindsey in high school and he knew her but she didn’t know him blah, blah. Next about the store that influenced the song “Gypsy”…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. I told my wife to nudge when she stopped rambling.

I read in another interview how the giant screen behind the stage and the smaller screens near the front made the show so much better. Apparently this person was not sitting where I sat. The smaller screens blocked my view of members of the band. When Mick was doing a sweet solo, I wanted to watch his arms flailing. But instead I got to see a stupid screen in my way.

In conclusion, this was a concert worth seeing. I watched the Youtube clips of the show, and they don’t shed a good light on the band. The band does sound much better when you are seeing them in concert than what it looks and sounds like on a computer. Although I was much worse on them than any other reviewer I read, I still enjoyed the show. I can finally say I saw them, and I would recommend them to others.

I would rate them:

7.5/10
(3.75/5 stars on the LeBrain scale)

MACThanks Boppin for the awesome review once again! — LeBrain

 

#352.5: CODA – “It’s All Helix’ Fault!”

HELIX

RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale
#352.5: CODA – “It’s All Helix’ Fault!”

RECAP:  In Getting More Tale #352, we learned about my history of dental problems coinciding with Helix concerts.

Today, that legacy has continued.

This morning, I won tickets to see Helix next time they hit town.  (For concert details, click here.)  Simon McGhee was giving away tickets this morning on 107.5 Dave FM.  All you had to do was call in, and give Simon the nicknames for Brent Doerner (“The Doctor”) and Greg Hinz (“Fritz”).  Before Simon could read off the phone number, I was already listening to it ringing.  The show is at the Wax in Kitchener on February 14.  That being Valentine’s Day, I am of course going with Uncle Meat.

This evening, I had a dentist appointment.  And wouldn’t you know it?  Cavities!  Two of them!  My history of dental issues and Helix concerts continues.

Damn you Helix!  See you on the 14th, I’ll still give you an “R”.

#351: Three Concerts in One Week

IMG_20141223_080222

RECORD STORE TAKES MkII: Getting More Tale
#351: Three Concerts in One Week

I love digging through old journals. I don’t get out to concerts very often anymore, but these journals bring back memories of an awesome week featuring three different concert experiences. Dig it! Some interesting autobiographical facts:

1) These journals record the date that I met Brent Doerner of Helix, thus beginning a long buddy-ship (December 1 2006).
2) I noticed that there was something in here about the flu shot. I got sick immediately afterwards. I was feeling it during the Jim Cuddy concert and got full-blown flu right after. Never had the flu shot since.


 

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Date: 2006/11/29 06:13

Tonight we have second row seats to see BRENT BUTT! (Corner Gas) I’m sure it will be awesome and I’ll be sure to write about it later.

Then Friday is Helix…

Then Sunday is Jim Cuddy (Blue Rodeo).

Talk about an awesome week.

Date: 2006/11/30 06:55

Brent Butt was awesome, hilarious, 90 minutes of pure Canadian humour. True stuff, like, “In America, there’s no corresponding word for ‘touque’. I could understand it if they had their own word for it. Like, ‘oh, that’s what we call a nurn!’ But no, they say, ‘hey you got one of them wool knit winter cap things!’ If we said that in Canada, our brains would freeze by the time we could get out the door. ‘Honey, could you get my wool knit winter cap thing?’ zoink, you’re frozen.” So true.

There was an opening act by the name of Jamie Hutchison, guy from the Maritimes. Equally hilarious!

 


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Date: 2006/12/01 06:14

Tonight Helix! We’ll be giving them an R around 11 o’clock at Molly Bloom’s. Helix are one of the best shows I’ve seen, and this will be my fourth or fifth time seeing them. Hopefully they’ll play their new single “Fill Your Head With Rock” which is garnering some record company interest….

Flu shot today too. Ugh.

Date: 2006/12/02 00:39

Helix were AWESOME! Right when we walked in the door, there was Brian Vollmer. He saw my vintage-style Helix shirt, walked up and said “hi”. He was so cool. He said, “I just have to go make the rounds and say hi to everybody here, but thanks for coming and have a good time tonight!”

So we wandered around, saw a couple old friends (The Infamous Taylor Brothers) and lo and behold…there was Bruce Arnold (original Helix drummer 1974-76)! A glance around the room revealed the Doerner brothers and Keith Zurbrigg as well! There were five current Helix guys on stage and four ex-Helix in the audience! I introduced myself to Brent and told him how much I liked his new CD.

Track list, to the best of our memories:

  1. No Rest For The Wicked
  2. Get Up
  3. Baby Likes To Ride
  4. Running Wild In The 21st Century
  5. Heavy Metal Love
  6. Boomerang Lover
  7. Dirty Dog
  8. You Keep Me Rocking
  9. Make Me Do Anything You Want
  10. Deep Cuts The Knife
  11. Wild In The Streets
  12. Kids Are All Shakin’
  13. Animal House
  14. I Believe In Rock And Roll
  15. Does A Fool Ever Learn (dedicated to some schmuck at EMI (“Every Mistake Imaginable)
  16. Rock You

I know I’m missing a couple in there, but it was a totally awesome hits night. Right now my ears are ringing and I’m buzzing!


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Date: 2006/12/04 06:19

The Cuddy show was awesome, thus ending my three-concert-week. It was a three hour show. The opening band were a part of the whole show as Jim brought various members back out to augment his own songs. He played two songs from his first record, most of the second record, and about six Blue Rodeo songs. He threw in a Neil Young cover, bassist Bazil Donovan sang one of his own, and they also performed one by the opening band!

So terrific show, there were even two Blue Rodeo guys in his backing band. However the real star of his band was violinist Anne Lindsay. She was on fire!

INTERVIEW: Kathryn Ladano – Artistic Director at NUMUS (New Music Now)

NUMUS

This is an exciting time for fans of live music in Kitchener-Waterloo. Part of this excitement is NUMUS (New Music Now) which is embarking on its 30th season of adventurous, artistic music performances. From their own website, “NUMUS showcases established and emerging talent from across Canada and the globe in Waterloo’s world-class venues. Diverse musical genres, traditional and experimental instruments and scored and improvised elements come together to create unique concert going experiences that capture the fluidity and relevance of contemporary music.”

To go with this 30th anniversary, NUMUS has selected a new Artistic Director, whom I have managed to secure an interview with. Kathryn Ladano is very busy these days, but fortunately I had an inside track to getting hold of her. This is what she had to say about NUMUS, new music, and the 30th year.

BASS

1. Let’s start with a basic question, since the majority of my readers are not from Canada – what exactly is NUMUS?

NUMUS is a presenter and producer of cutting edge contemporary music concerts in the community of Kitchener-Waterloo. By contemporary music, I primarily mean music by living composers within the Western art music tradition, however, we do move beyond that as well. For example, this season we are also featuring freely improvised music, music that blurs the line between composition and improvisation, and this Sunday we’re featuring Korean improviser-percussionist and vocalist Dong-Won Kim with guests.

2. You have said that NUMUS has “has put Kitchener-Waterloo on the new music map”. Can you describe what “new music” means to you personally?

To me, new music simply means compositions from the Western art music tradition written within the past 50 years or so. While many consider new music to be anything written after 1900, I consider it to be newer than that. This is music that needs to be better supported by the public. It’s different, and can be challenging for your average listener, which is why symphony orchestras for example have a hard time moving forward and getting their audiences to readily accept this type of music being programmed. The alternative, however, is music that is literally hundreds of years old, and while that music is great, there is also great music being made here and now. This is the music I’m interested in listening to, performing, producing, and presenting.

3. This year is NUMUS’ 30th, but your first as artistic director. What pressure does that add, if any?

NUMUS has an impressive list of past Artistic Directors (Peter Hatch, Glenn Buhr, Jesse Stewart, Jeremy Bell, and Anne-Marie Donovan), and it is intimating to be following in the footsteps of those individuals. I personally find that more intimidating than properly celebrating our 30th year. Plans are in place to celebrate this milestone though, and these include bringing back each of the previous Artistic Directors to curate a unique program throughout 2015. I will also be curating a celebratory program, and I think all of these concerts strongly reflect the strengths and artistic personalities of each of NUMUS’ Artistic Directors.

4. You have said that you would like to reach out to a younger audience. What do you think will attract young people to the shows?

This year, NUMUS has officially added a side series to its programming called The MIX Music Series. Tickets for this series are about half the price of our main series tickets, and the series itself focuses on improvisatory music and emerging artists. I am hopeful that this series will really resonate with younger audiences as many of the artist we present in the series will be very recent post-secondary graduates just starting to embark on their careers. There are also very few places where young audiences can regularly support emerging artists outside of educational institutions. I feel that the MIX Series has the most potential for growing our younger audience base and getting these people out to experience high quality, affordable live music.

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5. Affordable is a plus.  But what appeal will NUMUS offer to open-minded rock fans and musicians in the KW area?

Any open-minded music lover will find something attractive in NUMUS’ 2014-2015 program offerings, whether it be multi-media concerts that celebrate music and film, a world-class percussion quartet, a concert of improvised vingnettes with guitar and electronics, or a concert featuring a new instrument called the reactable (a digital sampler with a tangible user interface on an illuminated tabletop) that also features video projections and recordings from the Voyager golden records.

6. Wow, is that cool!  That’s definitely something I’m interested in hearing.  Now, you have stressed that you believe in support for young artists. What support did you receive when you were starting out?

It was difficult when I started out, and I really had to be very proactive and create a lot of my own opportunities. I was at a huge disadvantage in that I played a relatively unpopular instrument (the bass clarinet) without a lot of traditional job opportunities, and I also wanted to focus on new music and free improvisation. I had a lot of support from the educational institutions I attended, and I also received a couple of grants early in my career which allowed me to study with Lori Freedman in Montreal, and also do my first mini-tour, performing new music pieces I studied in grad school. Both of these opportunities led to new connections and helped me to advance.

7. Lastly, can you please share your spice cookie recipe?

Yes!

Spice Cookies:
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1 egg, beaten
4 tbsp. molasses
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves
extra sugar for dipping

  • Cream sugar and butter. Blend egg and molasses with the creamed mixture.
  • Combine dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture – mix well.
  • Put dough in refrigerator until firm (about 1-2 hours) – or put in the freezer if you are pressed for time – this makes the dough easier to form.
  • Take small amounts of dough, form into balls, and roll in sugar, Place these on an un-greased cookie sheet about 2″ apart.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes at 325F – they should be moist and chewy.
  • Enjoy!

KATHRYN

GUEST CONCERT REVIEW: Queen + Adam Lambert 7/13/2014

QUEEN +

GUEST REVIEW by “Boppin”

QUEEN + ADAM LAMBERT – Live, July 13 2014 at the Air Canada Center, Toronto

I have to start off this review by saying I love Queen. I have listened to more songs by Queen than almost any band ever. I am told when people I know hear Queen, Steve Miller Band, Black Sabbath or 80’s metal, they think of me. So the review you are about to read really pains me to write. But I have to be true to myself and review the band as I saw them last night.

I went to this concert expecting to hate every little bit of Adam Lambert. I hated him on American Idol. Yes, I know. I hate to admit it, but for a while I did watch that show. How, you say, can a died-in-the-wool metal head and 70’s hard rock lover watch American Idol? Well. To answer that question, my family time TV viewing was limited to the type of shows we could watch together. Having a young pre-teen in the house meant only watching family type shows when she was awake. And she loved American Idol. At first I liked Adam Lambert. He was not your typical contestant on that show. But then he started showing off his pipes too much, and it got annoying. All of the viewers knew precisely when he was going to wail, and we got sick of him.

Then I heard the news that he was going to be the next lead singer for Queen.

Queen and American Idol. That is sacrilege. This would be like Gary Cherone in Van Halen. It wouldn’t work. It couldn’t work.

However, it did.

I hate to say this, but the three shining spots of the concert last night really had nothing at all to do with the original line up of Queen.

First, Adam Lambert was actually great. If Freddie Mercury was incredible, then Adam Lambert was great. He was spot on. He was campy, in a Freddie kind of way, and his voice was in top shape.

Second, Neil Fairclough, the bass player they hired to replace the retired John Deacon was amazing. His stand up electric bass was the biggest bass I have ever seen. It sounded sweet. And then he let Roger Taylor use drumsticks to play the bass (a first for me).

Third, Rufus Tiger Taylor. He is the son of Roger Taylor. And he has some serious chops. I didn’t realize how good he was until my wife pointed out to me that he was better than his dad. And last night, he was.

The concert was going along great, and then Adam Lambert left the stage, and the show for me mostly fell apart.

Please don’t get me wrong I love Brian May, but he was mostly off last night. His entire night sounded about a half second behind. His finger work was slow. His guitar solo (which was roughly 30 minutes) was about 28 minutes too long. It started out with a few minutes of Pink Floyd , then onto some Zeppelin, back to Floyd. I don’t think he was trying to copy David Gilmour or Jimmy Page, but the elements were there. At least I hope he wasn’t trying to copy them because he was doing a piss poor version if he was. For a guy that has seen many guitar virtuosos over the years, this was like watching a Junior High guitar talent show. The worst part for me was when Brian May screwed up in “Bohemian Rhapsody”. It was a real fingernails on the chalkboard moment for me.

During the song “Love of My Life”, Brian moved down to the front of the stage alone with an acoustic guitar. He admits he is not a singer. Well, Brian we quickly figured out why. Your voice was awful. God awful. And you chose to have the audience sing the other half of the lyrics of the song. You could have heard a pin drop when the 100 or so people in the entire audience of 15,000 that actually knew the lyrics were singing (whispering?). Here’s a hint. Choose a song most of the audience knows if you want them to sing the lyrics for you, or put the lyrics up on a screen.

Coming from the area of the world where Neil Peart is from, and having seen Rush in concert many times (and more recently seeing how good Tommy Clufetos can bang the skins), the drumming of Roger Taylor was another let down. It wasn’t bad. It just didn’t wow me. But in 2014, solos really are passé unless you are really amazing, and Roger Taylor was not. He does not have a great singing voice either, which really showed when he tried to fill in for David Bowie during “Under Pressure”.

His son is a real up and comer though, and I hope he finds his own way in the music industry. It seems especially tough on children of famous musicians.

After the horrible “Love of My Life”, Brian May talked about space travel and how we were all going on a journey and we may never come back, then all of the musicians(other than Lambert) went to the front of the stage and did “’39”. Pardon me while I yawn.

Please Adam, come back and save us from this snooze fest. As the lights go down and the audience sees Adam there is a huge cheer.

However, after a couple of classic Queen songs, they forced him to sing a remix of a little known Freddie Mercury disco song called “Love Kills”. He announced Queen was using this version in an upcoming album. In my opinion, they should do a new album with new material, perhaps throwing in a few B-sides of old material, or do a live album. They could include Freddie, Paul Rodgers, Freddie Tribute Concert songs and Adam. Just my two cents. Also in my opinion, the band had plenty of time to come out with this new album before the tour, but they didn’t. And all they had for sale at the swag booths were $40 T-shirts. I have enough T-shirts thanks. Not one CD or vinyl. Nothing.

The entire show for me was like “backwards day”. I assumed Brian May and Roger Taylor would be the highlight of the show. I told my wife the only reason I am going was to hear Brian May. But the cast of nobodies were better.

I should end the review by stating the whole is better than the sum of its parts for Queen + Adam Lambert. When they are together doing classic Queen songs, they sound great. When they do solos, and off-key singing, it didn’t work.

If they had included 8-10 more songs, and skipped a lot of the solos, I would have rated it higher.

My wife summed up the concert when we got back to the car by stating she liked The Lady Gaga concert a few nights before better (No, thankfully I did not attend that one). I told her “Don’t say that!”

For me, Adam Lambert was 8.5/10, the band without Adam 4/10, so together the show was 7.5/10. Too bad. It could have been much better.

[This works out to 3.75/5 on the five-point LeBrain scale.  Thank you Boppin for this amazing review! — LeBrain]

SETLIST:

  1. Now I’m Here
  2. Stone Cold Crazy
  3. Another One Bites the Dust
  4. Fat Bottomed Girls
  5. In the Lap of the Gods… Revisited
  6. Seven Seas of Rhye
  7. Killer Queen
  8. Somebody to Love
  9. I Want It All
  10. Love of My Life
  11. ’39
  12. These Are the Days of Our Lives
  13. Under Pressure
  14. Love Kills
  15. Who Wants to Live Forever
  16. Guitar Solo
  17. Tie Your Mother Down
  18. Radio Ga Ga
  19. Crazy Little Thing Called Love
  20. The Show Must Go On
  21. Bohemian Rhapsody
  22. Encore: We Will Rock You
  23. Encore: We Are the Champions

More QUEEN at mikeladano.com:
QUEEN – Queen’s First E.P. (1988 EMI, originally 1976)
QUEEN + PAUL RODGERS – The Cosmos Rocks (2008, iTunes bonus tracks)
QUEEN + PAUL RODGERS – ”Fire and Water” (2008 Amazon.com bonus track)
BRIAN MAY & FRIENDS – Star Fleet Project (1983 Capitol Records)

CONCERT REVIEW: Brent Doerner’s Decibel – 3/10/2007, Edelweiss Tavern, Kitchener ON

I keep finding these old concert reviews that I forgot to post here!  Enjoy this one from former HELIX guitarist Brent Doerner.  This was written the day of the show.  Photos from an old crap Motorola phone.

BRENT DOERNER’S DECIBEL – March 10 2007, Edelweiss Tavern, Kitchener ON

It was only an hour ago, but it is already a blur.

Just after 9:30 pm, Brent Doerner’s DECIBEL hit the stage at the Edelweiss with earthshaking volume. The three Gibsons of Shane Schedler, Ralph “Chick” Schumilas, and Brent himself were crystal clear and gelling beautifully. I can’t even remember what song they opened with, but it might have been “Taking The Colour Out Of The Blues”, one of the best tracks from their debut CD. This was only their second “real” show, and the new lineup (featuring bassist Hilliard Walter and Brent’s twin brother Brian Doerner, fresh off a Saga tour) sounded hot. Most importantly, the pressures of playing to a hometown crowd didn’t phase them at all, and they looked like they were having an awesome time.

Brent Doerner has evolved from Helix’s lead gunslinger to a frontman in his own right. I suppose if one is in a band for a decade and a half with a guy like Brian Vollmer, you’re bound to learn something about being a frontman. Yet Brent has his own style. He points to the crowd, he interacts with them, he slings his guitar to the side and sings to them. He hoists his guitar like a shotgun for emphasis, and does it all as if it’s second nature. The guy is a natural, no doubts there.

All the best tunes from the CD were played, in effective order, along with four new ones. And let me tell ya, folks, these weary heavy-metal eardrums of mine rarely hear a song as good as “Maybe Love”. The song has only been played twice, and they band are still working out the kinks, but could you tell? No, this song smoked, as more than one person in the audience noticed. As my fiancée noted on the way out, “that song was the single.” And yes, indeed, if Decibel were to suddenly press up a slab of 7” vinyl, that would be the song to put on the A-side.

Video for “Maybe Love”, after some lineup changes and a name switch to My Wicked Twin

The show was not without technical problems, but the band overcame with lots of comedy courtesy of Brian Doerner, and a wicked impromptu drum solo from the rock god. In the dark. He couldn’t have even seen what he was doing, but did that solo ever smoke. While some bands would view a blackout as a disaster, Decibel turned it into a rare chance to see a drum solo by one of Canada’s most underrated percussionists. And he made sure that lots of people got complimentary sticks, too, which was really cool.

One of the many highlights of the show was Shane Schedler’s vocal turn on “Never Turn Your Back”. Not to be outdone, however, Hills Walter kicked out the jams on his vocal “Dancin’ Frogs” featuring not a dancing frog, but a dancing blonde in a top hat, fishnets and Decibel panties. Sweet!

Such was the reaction from the crowd that Decibel were unexpectedly forced to retake the stage after they had already said goodnight. Having nothing else to play, they played “Taking The Colour” one more time, this time with even more excitement. The crowd ate it up, every last morsel, and left very very satisfied.

You simply must see the band live. If you care about rock and roll, if you care about local artists, then you must see this band live. If you don’t, you are the only one missing out.

Good show boys. See you next time, front row center.

5/5 stars