With any performer who’s been around for a few years and amassed a decent back catalogue, the live show becomes a bit of a balancing act that involves finding the sweet spot between making the fans happy (ie. playing the old stuff) and making yourself happy (playing the new stuff). Hugh Cornwell, former frontman for The Stranglers, seems to have found a good balance between the old and the new. Starting things off with the title track from the Steve Albini produced Totem and Taboo, he then moved on to the Stranglers’ classic “Skin Deep” before moving back to a new song. Cornwell described that opening trifecta as “a nice Philadelphia sub with some Totem and Taboo on either side, some nice garlic butter, and some Stranglers in the middle – nice seasoned meat.”
Playing in power trio format, Cornwell was backed up by a solid rhythm section, including an impressively hard hitting drummer who looked a bit like Blake Anderson from Workaholics, though Cornwell described him as looking like Animal from the Muppets, but with glasses – also accurate. The new songs sounded good and the new arrangements of the older stuff worked nicely, though I did overhear someone in the audience saying how they half expected to hear some organ up on stage. Other highlights in his set included “Dagenham Dave,” “Duchess,” “Gods Guns and Gays,” (I wonder if Mike Huckabee’s heard that one?) and “Golden Brown,” which took on a bit of a jazzy arrangement.
He ended off the set with “Bad Vibrations,” then introduced his band, thanked us for coming out on a Sunday, and closed things off by pronouncing, “Let’s get drunk! And buy some merchandise!”
Tokyo Police Club singer Dave Monks recently released a solo EP, All Signs Point To Yes, which showcases a more stripped down, acoustic based side of his songwriting than his main gig. “Gasoline,” the first single off of the EP, piqued my interest after not really paying close attention to the Newmarket band’s career for awhile. On record and live, the performance of these new songs has a different energy and a more laid back vibe than a Tokyo Police Club Show.
“Welcome to the third show of the enterprise known as Dave Monks. You can applaud.” With that, Monks introduced himself to the crowd and displayed some of the cheeky banter he’d deploy throughout his set, which also included an attempt to get some cheers for a mention of Parkdale, and the comment, “We’re entering the nether regions of my show” as we approached the end of his set. I could have done without the numerous exclamations of “TORONTO!” that he shouted out during his set, but I guess it was a homecoming show of sorts for the now Brooklyn based Monks, so that can be forgiven.
The mark of a good band is that their songs sneak up on you. I’ll admit – I headed out to see The Griswolds play Lincoln Hall on Thursday night solely so that I could jam out to “Beware the Dog” live. I lovelovelooooooooove that song. The song that’s become the anthem for crazy exes everywhere (although, fun fact, it’s actually about a friend of the band’s that got hooked on drugs) – I’ve had it on repeat for the past two months.
I realized though, as the Australian foursome made their way through “If You Wanna Stay,” “Mississippi,” “16 Years,” and “Be Impressive” and I jumped, wiggled, and yelled right along with the rest of the crowd, that I actually lovelovelove every single song the band’s produced. Maybe not quite to the same extent as “Beware the Dog” but they’re all solid fun.
Onstage the band is all tattoos, bleached hair, Aussie accents, crackling energy and smiles. And they have good reason to be smiling – the group is blowing up. Just a couple years ago they were opening for fellow Australians San Cisco, and now they’re both headlining the same venues (San Cisco just played Lincoln Hall two nights before). The hype is well deserved – the Griswolds’ infectiously upbeat and addictively dizzying tracks not only makes for electrifying listen recorded, but comes across like a bolt of lightning onstage.
The group also gave a shout-out to fellow Aussie Vance Joy, playing a crooning cover of “Riptide” which the crowd was eating up, crooning right along. The group’s tour continues this summer through the Midwest and west coast – check ‘em out, they live up to the hype.
Glastonbury is undoubtedly the mothership of music festivals. Every year the headliners are discussed time and time again, and being presented the pyramid stage on Glasto weekend is as big an indicator that you have arrived as any. On a warm, humid Saturday night, the Pyramid stage was graced by the larger then life Kanye West, but I don’t give two shits about him. What got me excited about Glastonbury was who was on the John Peel stage counteracting Kanye West.
That band, was Suede. They are either 1a or 1b on my list of favorite bands so the opportunity to see them live was a big deal for me. Suede’s Peel Stage headlining slot was a welcome return to Glasto for the band, who reunited a few years ago. It’s the main reason why I attended Glastonbury and I was excited as the clock ticked to 5:30 in anticipation of their set.
Now you might be wondering, 5:30? Well, as luck would have it, I wasn’t actually at Glastonbury, but rather, I was at home, in Toronto. Now before you question the authenticity of my review, I have assured you I have taken the appropriate measures to simulate Glastonbury as best as I can at home, including:
- Rain, it was pouring rain outside. I opened the windows so the sound of water coming down on the earth would resonate in the background as I watched the show. A sound many Glastonbury fans would be familiar with.
- I watched it on my 40 inch TV in high def, which frankly, makes me feel a lot closer to the stage then 95% of the people at the Peel stage
- I have really high quality speakers, thereby surpassing the quality of your typical festival audio experience.
Suede took the stage at 5:35 to the track Pantomime Horse, which I believe was about Justine Frischmann of Elastica. You could probably argue every song off Suede’s debut album was about Justine Frischmann, I wonder how she feels about that. Having access to cameras on stage, I could tell Bret and co were ecstatic about being at Glastonbury even Richard Oakes tried to muster a smile, maybe he saw a hot dog in the crowd or something. As I’m watching the sweat glean off Brett Anderson’s face, I realize the advantage I have reviewing this show at home over reviewing this in person – I have a much closer view and I could actually see first hand what was going on stage. Had I been there in person, I would probably be drunk and too far away to truly understand band interaction.
I mean look how far away this person was.
Sticking with hard hitting rock songs, the band kept the pace up with a blistering version of Moving and Trash, which elicited the first singalong of the night. I couldn’t quite tell how loud the crowd was singing, because I wasn’t surrounded by them. Singalongs are a blessing and a curse, on one hand, nothing really beats an amazing crowd sing along. On the other hand, nothing ruins a song quicker then singalongs with shitty singers. Since I was here exclusively for Suede, it was nice to hear just his voice.
Animal Nitrate, We are the Pigs and Killing of a Flashboy followed. It was a relentless wave of hits that surely would have exhausted me if I was dancing in the crowd. Fortunately I was at home, so I was able to relax on my couch and drink a cup of tea during the performance. It was still invigorating to think how fun it would have been there though.
The next bit of the set started with It Starts and Ends With You , a track from their surprisingly good album Bloodsports from a few years ago. We also saw the introduction of two new songs – Pale Snow and I Don’t Know How to Reach You. I knew what these songs were called because BBC put up an overlay of the song, and I quickly realized it was new. This would have been very confusing had I actually been there because then I would be like “I don’t know this song! Why wouldn’t I know this?” and then spiral into a abyss of self doubt over how much I actually knew Suede. With this prompter I was quickly able to google it and therefore save myself from an existential crisis.
The rest of the set read like a greatest hit’s list, including everyone’s favorite b-side about a heroin addict, The Living Dead. The crowd absolutely lost it when the group ended with Beautiful Ones, which had the crowd LALALALALAing so hard I could hear it through my speakers.
It was at this point I wished I was there and not my living room. Sometimes you just can’t replicate a live experience, no matter how you set it up. An encore set of She’s in Fashion and New Generation sent the crowd back to their mud filled, dirty tents happy. I would have cried if they brought an orchestra or something for Still Life, luckily that was not the case.
Overall, a fun filled experience from the comforts of my own home. It’s not often you get to watch your favorite band live, but being able to watch them live from your home might just be the next best thing.
I can’t believe some fucker put up the set list already
We Are the Pigs
Killing of a Flashboy
It Starts and Ends With You
Pale Snow (new song debut)
I Don’t Know How to Reach You
The Living Dead
She’s in Fashion (acoustic)