Monday, April 25, 2011

Ron Sexsmith at The Studio Theatre...

Wednesday night Rich and I had front row seats for the best show in town. Sure, The Pixies were playing next door, but Ron Sexsmith was at the Studio Theatre, and what could be better than that?
The show started on time with an opening set from Ash Koley. They were better than expected, and apart from way too much "Gee golly, it's so cool to be on tour with such a wonderful guy as Ron Sexsmith..." they provided an entertaining opening. I mean, even if it's true (and it is) that Ron is a sweetheart, enough is enough.
Ron took the stage, in front of his touring band, wearing a new stage jacket with embroidered flowers. He looked every inch the professional. He has an open easy-going style, friendly and chatty with a touch of humour and cynicism. The band really cooked this time, Bover shone on lead guitar, and the addition of Dave Matthewson on piano was a good idea.
Ron did tunes from the new album interspersed with classics like "Strawberry Blonde," "Brandy Alexander" and "Hard Bargain". Working with Bob Rock helped. The new songs and the old came off as punchier, and more solid than in the past. They've never sounded bad, but this band owned them.
The merch counter had T-shirts, CDs, signed lithos and the new album on vinyl, but I'd pretty much gathered all that stuff up over the past month, so after an encore of "Michael and His Dad" and "Every time I Follow" we headed home, our heads full of Ron's beautiful music.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Crowbar, and other stuff...

I've been listening to quite a bit of Crowbar these days. I have the vinyl albums, some 45s and some of the stuff on CD, but I would say that for a band as rockin' and (dare I say it) important to the Canadian scene as Crowbar...they are woefully under-served on CD. The Bad Manors album ranks up their with the first Moby Grape album as one of the all-time classic LPs. Heavy Duty and Larger Than Life are good ones. LTL is that live double that came with a poster listing everyone who attended the concert where it was recorded. The show was broadcast on CHUM-FM as it took place, I recall listening to it from Massey Hall to John's living room.

I saw Crowbar a couple times, in weird places. I can't even remember the names of them, but wherever I saw them...Kelly Jay and the boys put on a great show.
We shouldn't forget the Official Music LP, with King Biscuit Boy. Or the Epic album KE-32746 which was produced by Jack Douglas. I managed to find a download of this (sorry boys) and it is a good album.

You have to wonder what ever happened to Josef Chirowski! Rheal passed away, but Roly, John, Kelly and Sonny are still getting together once in awhile with a few friends to play the classics! I loaned John my 45s one time so they could study a couple arrangements!

This Live album appeared from nowhere, and it's not as good as LTL but it does capture the band in an American venue The Whiskey-A-Go-Go. Even in a foreign country you can feel the heat.
Crowbar I miss you! Thanks for the memories.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Jackson Browne...last night

OK, it wasn't a million guitars, just 17 or 18. And a keyboard relicating a grand piano. And a couple of chairs. And any song he had ever written, plus a couple he didn't write. Jackson Browne brought his solo acoustic show to Hamilton Place last night, to a big crowd, not quite sold out, but very healthy. Surely the floor was sold out. And everyone brought their loudest voice to call, shout, scream for their favourites. Jackson had announced this as a "no setlist" show...which meant he would sing the songs you called for, as long as those were the songs he felt like singing.
They're all his songs after all. Kudos to him for remembering them so well. We just saw Lucinda Williams at Massey Hall with a songbook perched in front of her for the lyrics. Jackson just kept singing the verses over again til he recalled the next line. It was an interesting exercise. Should keep the Alzheimers at bay!
He sang a couple of Warren Zevon songs. Don't forget, Jackson produced Zevon's first Asylum record. He sang "Off Of Wonderland" and "Giving That Heaven Away" from 2008's Time the Conqueror and reached back as far as "Jamaica Say You Will" and "Rock Me On The Water" from the album known as Saturate Before Using from 1972. They were selling T-shirts with that album cover emblazoned on them at the merch counter.
Oh, they also had Time the Conqueror, the two solo acoustic CDs, and the Lindley/Browne live release Love Is Strange for sale, and buttons, and a DVD and a water bottle, and other T-shirts. It was a Jackson Browne marketplace in the lobby.
It was fun to see him wandering between piano stool and chair, deciding whether to play keyboard or guitar. It was fascinating to watch him choose the right guitar for the least he didn't have to change tunings for each song! His voice is rougher than in the past, although having shaved off the beard he looks about the same from where I was sitting as he did back in 1973 when I saw him last.
An interesting night. Made me want to go home and listen to the originals. Maybe that's not such a bad thing!
Just one more thing...folks...leave your Blackberries and iPhones at home. We finally get rid of thsoe stupid concert wands, we're no longer getting hot metal from sparkers dropping on our neck, so turn off the @#$% phones! The picture quality stinks anyway, and it's OH SO ANNOYING to have those bright lights popping up all over the auditorium. Even for the performer. I know, I've done it...I've been scolded by Ramblin' Jack Elliott! But as Jackson Browne said, "If you're hoping for a performance that just might be...transcendent...don't do it!"

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Jackson Browne...


On Stage! Alone with a million guitars...