Concert Review: Sebadoh, May 27, Lee’s Palace

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | Leave a comment

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There’s been a trend over the last few years of newer indie bands bringing back the classic sounds of the 1990s and it’s trend I heartily support. However, it’s also nice to see a few of the originators still at it and still going strong. Sebadoh is one of those bands still at it. Their latest full length album (and first this Century), 2013’s Defend Yourself, is a strong album that easily fits in with much of their earlier work with newer tracks like “I Will” standing out as some of the highlights of the live show alongside classics like “Beauty Of The Ride” and “Prince-S”

A few things were made clear at Wednesday night’s show at Lee’s Palace – the fact that Lou Barlow and Jason Loewenstein have written a lot of great songs, the fact that Bob D’Amico is a powerhouse drummer (he needed a cinder block to keep his bass drum in place), but one thing that definitely came across clearly was this: the guys in Sebadoh sure do have a fondness for Canada. This was evident from before they played a note as Loewenstein took to the stage and casually shouted, “How’s it going?” to the audience before flipping his bass over to reveal a Canadian flag sticker on the back. He was also wearing a t-shirt with “Canada” written on it in big block letters and even took the time to point to his bottle of 50 so as to make sure we noticed that, yes, he is indeed celebrating all things Canadian tonight. He further expressed his appreciation at the end of the night when an audience member shouted out during the encore that they should play whatever they want. “Thank you, that’s very nice of you. I love it here.”

Though they mocked the concept of the encore with Barlow stating, “This is our last song … well, theoretically,” and Loewenstein adding that we’d probably still be able to see them standing by the side of the stage, they did an encore anyways and finished things off with a performance of “On Fire,” thus ending the night on a perfect note.

Concert Review: A.R. Rahman, May 24, Sony Centre

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | 1 Comment

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Before A.R. Rahman took to the stage on Sunday night, an intro video was screened featuring several people talking about the man and his work. At one point, the words “AR Rahman = magic” flashed on the screen. A bold statement perhaps, but for many of those in attendance, it was an apt one – this was an audience that was ready to be dazzled, ready to see some magic. In contrast to this buildup, when Rahman first addressed the crowd, he rather humbly thanked everyone for coming and added that he hoped we would enjoy the show. I think it’s safe to say that everyone did.

Though a superstar in India, Rahman first caught the attention of North American audiences through his soundtrack to Danny Boyle’s Oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire. To many though, that’s probably where their knowledge of Rahman’s work ends. I would count myself in that group – other than “Jai Ho,” I had heard some of his soundtrack work and had done a bit of homework on YouTube before heading to the show, but I was largely unfamiliar with most of his repertoire. That didn’t really matter one bit though – Rahman and his ensemble put on an engaging, entertaining show regardless.

Musically, Rahman is able to incorporate a lot of different influences into his sound and the band he’s assembled for his current “Intimate Concert Tour” was more than capable of handling it all. By the second song in their set, they were incoporating a bouncy reggae-ish beat. Shortly thereafter, one song featured the violinist taking centre stage for a solo over a funky bassline in a moment that wouldn’t have been out of place at a Dave Matthews concert (except without the beachballs, hackey sacks and fratboys prevalent at Dave’s shows). At another point, the band tried their hand at a jazzy number that Rahman had composed for a film. “We get to do all this stuff – jazz, folk, classical,” he explained. “It becomes acceptable when the film becomes a hit.”

And Rahman certainly has a few hits under his belt if the adulation shown by the audience and the several “I love yous!” heard throughout the night were any indication. While he comes across as a fairly humble guy, Rahman definitely seems aware of the love he’s getting from the crowd, taking the time to acknowledge them as often as he could. One of my favourite moments of the night was when he got up from his spot at the piano for no discernible reason and just started strolling/strutting across the stage as if to say, “Yeah, I’m A.R. Rahman. How’s it going?”

The concert ended in a somewhat unique and unusual way – with a credits sequence listing all of the people who’ve worked on the tour, from wardrobe to lighting and so on. “After the credits, we’ll play for a little bit. So watch the credits.” It was an obvious nod to his work as a film composer and so, much like the audience at the latest blockbuster from Marvel Studios, we watched and we waited for the inevitable post-credits scene. Would Nick Fury arrive with news that he was putting together a team for Rahman to join? Nah, he’s already been there and done the supergroup thing with Superheavy so that was out of the question. Rather, after the credits rolled, Rahman and his band returned to the stage to run through “Mental Manadhil” and finished off with a little taste of “Jai Ho,” thus ending things like many of the films he’s scored – with a happy ending.

Concert Review: Prince, May 19, Sony Centre

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | Leave a comment

Photo By Cindy Ord / NPG Records

Photo By Cindy Ord / NPG Records

You have to be a pretty big deal to have just one name. That’s my theory. When it comes to people with one name, Prince is a pretty big deal. As I was witnessing him slay the crowd at the Sony Centre on Tuesday, I came to a realization just how unique a career and persona he has crafted for himself. Prince is someone who is so unpredictable, charismatic and weird that you have no idea what you are getting into when you are going to his (surprise) shows, yet it’s okay.

One of my favorite Prince stories (besides the Dave Chapelle one) is from a few years ago. A surprise show somewhere, Prince takes the stage to an excited crowd (there is no crowd not excited to see Prince) and then told them “I’m not interested in what you already know, I’m interested in what you are willing to learn” and then played an entire set of new songs. It was probably a different night than what that crowd had imagined.

Luckily, Tuesday nights show was mostly about what we already know. Taking the stage with more energy than one would expect for the second show of the night, Prince took us through a two hour parade of his greatest hits. To say the crowd was thrilled about this would be the understatement of the century. There were some sore hips Wednesday morning, that’s for sure.

I don’t have to list out the hits, but there was a point when he followed 1999 and Little Red Corvette with Nothing Compares 2 U and you were just like … Wow. Then he followed that up with Kiss. It was that kind of glorious night. Not lost among all the hits was the excellent musicianship displayed by the backing band 3RDEYEGIRL. They were on point with every detour that the Princely one made during the night. Prince himself is a hell of a guitarist which would probably be highlighted more if everything else about him was muted.

The encore featured a piano cover of Love Me Tender which was as precious as it sounds, eventually leading to the epic finisher Purple Rain.

Prince, he came, he saw, he conquered. Time for pancakes

Concert Review: Ivan And Alyosha, Kris Orlowski, May 19, Lincoln Hall

Posted on by Celeste in Concerts | Leave a comment

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Talking is Hard. Walk the Moon knows it. Introverts know it. Every middle schooler with a crush knows it. Opening your mouth and pouring forth something intelligent and on point is not an easy task.

Kris Orlowski’s got it down though. The Seattleite (as the crowd on Tuesday learned they’re called) opened for Ivan and Alyosha at Lincoln Hall on Tuesday evening and dude’s stage banter was on fleek as the kiddies say (I’m probably not using that correctly, am I? Any 15 year olds want to correct me?). As he was tuning his guitar he spoke up, “And now comes the Q+A section of the evening. Please ladies and gentlemen – anything and everything”. He got questions ranging from “if you were a statue, what pose would you hold?” to “which power ranger would you be” to “does playing guitar help with the ladies?” (the answer to that one, surprisingly, was no.)

The singer songwriter played mostly from his 2014 release Believer, which is full of lush, powerful, harmony filled indie-folk tracks. Orlowski’s emotional, husky voice filled out the rolling tracks, which was especially prominent when the singer-songwriter came down from the stage and played an acoustic track amongst the audience. Orlowski prepped the crowd: “Okay guys, I’m going to play two more tracks and then pull a French exit – I’m just going to leave. No words.” He almost pulled it off – he couldn’t quite help himself though, singing a couple of pointers to the crowd about meeting him in the back at the merch stand after the show since he wasn’t allowed to talk.

Next up was Seattle based folk group Ivan and Alyosha. Orlowski had prepped the audience for the group saying “they’re a bunch of dreamboats.” There was no disagreement from the crowd. The undoubtedly good looking fivesome took to the stage with gusto, playing from their 2015 album It’s All Just Pretend as well as sampling some of their bigger hits from their 2013 All the Times We Had. For a group that pulls its name from historic Russian literature (it’s based on two characters from “The Brothers Karamazov”) and has some pretty hard hitting lyrics about God and religion, they’re delightfully silly guys onstage. Frontloading the stage boy band style, with the three guitars and bass all lined up at the front of the stage and the drummer in the back, the gentlemen of the band very simply rocked out together, crashing into each other, locking eyes and grinning and jamming out for solos. Seeing Tim Kim on that slide guitar especially is a thing of beauty. I’ll leave it at this: Seattle is a lucky, lucky city and if these guys come by your town take the opportunity – go see them.

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