Concert Review: Nikki Lane, December 6, Horseshoe Tavern

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Though she’s collaborated with a wide variety of artists across different genres, running the gamut from Lana Del Rey to Spiritualized to QOTSA frontman Josh Homme (who produced her most recent album, Denim & Diamonds), at her core, Nikki Lane is pure country.

With a sound inspired by old school honky-tonk and outlaw country sounds with a bit of a rock ‘n roll edge, Lane definitely grabbed the attention of the packed crowd at the Horseshoe on Tuesday, including in particular a group of “rowdy girls” up front that Lane singled out for praise at one point early on in her set.

And while the crowd was definitely into it, it was clear that the feeling was mutual, with Lane not only praising the crowd in general, but the venue specifically for being her kind of room, adding that while she may someday get big enough that she won’t be playing rooms like this anymore, playing to tightly packed crowds like the one at the ‘Shoe were the reason she wanted to play music in the first place. That and maybe the opportunity to receive beautifully rolled joints that also look like candy canes, as she did from some kind patrons at the show on this occasion.

Lane put on a stellar show that featured several highlights including newer songs like “First High”, ‘Good Enough” and “Denim & Diamonds” alongside older favourites like “Highway Queen” and Right Time” and a few well-chosen covers like Jessi Colter’s “Why You Been Gone So Long” and Lucinda Williams’ “Drunken Angel.”

As she closed out the show with “Jackpot”, Lane again showed her appreciation for the Toronto crowd, thanking us all for coming out and adding, “You don’t know how good it feels to see this many people out on a Tuesday night.”

Song of the Day: The Waeve – Kill Me Again

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Photo credit: Steve Gullick

Amongst the big Britpop-related stories of late is the news that Blur would be reuniting for a few shows next year, including a pair of just announced dates in Barcelona and Madrid for Primavera Sound.

But that’s not the only Blur-adjacent project in the news. Also of note is The Waeve, a collaboration between Rose Elinor Dougall and Blur guitarist Graham Coxon, who will be releasing their self-titled debut album on February 3 of next year.

“Kill Me Again” is the latest single to be released from the upcoming album. Check it out below.

Song of the Day: Cloth – Sidecar

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“Sidecar” is the latest single from Glasgow’s Cloth, taken from their Low Sun EP, out now on Rock Action Records. Check it out.

Concert Review: Suede, Manic Street Preachers, November 24, Massey Hall

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I’m not sure if there was an official name given to the Manic Street Preachers/Suede co-headlining tour which just wrapped up with its final date last night at Massey Hall, but based on the night’s performance from Suede, might I suggest the Brett Anderson Tries His Best To Catch COVID tour?

I kid, of course, but it certainly seemed like the Suede frontman has moved well past the need for social distancing. He made that fairly clear as he ventured out into the crowd multiple times throughout the evening to get up close and personal, encouraging the audience to get out of their seats and move up to the front, hugging various audience members, and encouraging mass singalongs. I’m not sure if he went extra hard tonight because it was the last night of the tour (and possibly, he hinted, their last North American show for a good while, or maybe ever?) or if every night has been like this, but either way, Anderson is one of the most engaging rock frontmen around.

With the energy Suede brought to the table, some bands might have been daunted to follow that, but luckily, Manic Street Preachers are not just “some band.” While James Dean Bradfield may not be quite as animated as Anderson is on stage, he’s certainly no slouch himself and he and the rest of the band proved as much as they ran through a set full of classic songs from throughout their career alongside some well placed covers in the form of “Suicide Is Painless” and The Cult’s “She Sells Sanctuary.” Like Suede, The Manics also seemed inspired to make the last night of their tour a memorable one.

Bassist Nicky Wire noted that though they’ve played several Toronto venues over the years, including the Phoenix, the Danforth and “the Opera House of Toronto”, playing Massey Hall this time around was “the pinnacle.” Bradfield also noted earlier in the set that they were glad to be gracing the same stage that Neil Young, Rush and, yes, Suede, had played before them and later paid homage to Rush by playing a little snippet from the intro to “Closer To The Heart” at one point.

Closing things out with “A Design For Life”, Manic Street Preachers ended off a great night of music from two bands who’ve been at it for a while and have garnered dedicated fanbases over the years (I did notice a lot of grey hair in that crowd). And though the Manics noted that, unlike Anderson, they wouldn’t be giving out any group hugs, both they and Suede put on amazing performances that definitely had people going home happy. And hopefully didn’t have a certain Suede frontman going home sick.

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