Concert Review: Petula Clark, June 17, Queen Elizabeth Theatre

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While a punk show at some dingy dive bar is probably more my speed on any given day, I will admit to having a fondness for old school show business and an appreciation of classic pop hits so it wasn’t really too much of a stretch for me to take in Petula Clark’s show this past Monday night at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. As far as classic pop songs are concerned, Ms. Clark certainly has that covered latter with bona fide classics like “Don’t Sleep On The Subway”, “Sign of the Times”, and of course “Downtown”, all of which made their way into her set.

As for the old time showbiz vibe, she’s definitely got that covered as well, playing all her hits as well as songs made famous by others as she regaled the crowd with stories from throughout her lengthy career, dropping some impressive names like Fred Astaire, Francis Ford Coppola, John Lennon, and Charlie Chaplin and even throwing in a Glenn Close impression along the way.

The showbiz vibe perhaps went a bit too far for my taste when Clark performed her “60s Medley” which was an economical way to fit many of her old numbers into the set, but which also veered into slightly corny territory with the lyrics linking all those songs together and singing the praises of the ’60s. At times it came dangerously close to SCTV’s old Jackie Rogers Jr sketches.

Still, it was a good medley regardless, and Clark’s band for the evening, made up mostly of a group of Quebec musicians who made the trek along with her after the Montreal show, sounded great on it and everything else. It was especially impressive considering that this was only their second night playing with her (and that they were playing an almost entirely different set than the previous show, which focused on her French language recordings).

One of the highlights of the night that also came as a bit of a surprise was her version of Gnarls Barkley’s 2006 hit “Crazy.” The song’s been covered many times by many others but by adding a bit of that old school showbiz flair, she certainly managed to put her own spin on it. And at 86 years old, Clark’s voice does not seem to have lost much of its lustre. And I don’t just mean her singing voice – that Glenn Close impression was not too bad either.

Concert Review: Dido, June 15, Danforth Music Hall

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While introducing the song “See You When You’re 40″ off of her 2003 album Life For Rent, Dido mentioned how she wrote the song back in the day with the notion of wanting to hurt someone who hurt her and how she imagined that “the most insulting thing I could say to them is that they would one day be 40. Clearly that’s not old.”

No, it’s not. And a quick survey of the crowd would seem to indicate that this was an audience where perhaps the majority of people in the place were, if not over 40, at least somewhere in the vicinity of the big four-oh. You could easily tell it was an older crowd because while they stood up for certain songs, they happily sat back down when those songs were over. And for those on the other side of 40, this show was definitely a bit of a nostalgia trip. A trip back to a time when Dido was still in her 20s, 40 really did still seem old, and we were all just happy to have survived Y2K.

On the subject of nostalgia, while I do recall enjoying all of her hits from back in the day, I’ve never really been that big of a fan of Dido. With this in mind, I decided to refresh my memory a bit on her career before the show. In doing so I was reminded that “Here With Me” used to be the opening theme for the old WB series Roswell (which has of course recently been rebooted – yet another form of nostalgia) and also that the video for “White Flag” featured David Boreanaz, which seems like a very 2003 thing to do. Of course I needed no reminder on her breakthrough hit “Thank You,” which was also famously sampled by Eminem on “Stan.”

It wasn’t all about nostalgia of course. About a third of Dido’s set was taken up with songs from her latest release Still On My Mind. Live, Dido and her band did a good job on the new material, which fit in quite nicely with the oldies, though as is the case with most artists who’ve built up a decent back catalogue, the biggest reaction was for the older stuff.

While I was never more than a casual fan, it was clear upon walking into the sold out Danforth Music Hall that Dido has a fair number of diehard fans who were eager to see the English singer live on her first tour in fifteen years. I get the impression those fans did not walk away disappointed.

Song Of The Day: Lonely Parade – Index Finger

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Hey, did you hear about The Raptors? They won last week. It’s kind of a big deal – they’re having a parade and everything. Yeah, you probably heard. Anyways, in honour of today’s parade, here’s a song by a band with the word ‘parade’ in their name.

The Lonely Parade are a Montreal-based trio originally out of Peterborough. They may or may not be Raptors fans. They released their second full length The Pits in September of last year via Buzz Records and “Index Finger” is the latest single off of that album. Check it out below:

Song Of The Day: Julia Shapiro – Shape

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In the video for “Shape”, the latest single off of her upcoming solo debut Perfect Vision, Chastity Belt singer/guitarist Julia Shapiro has chosen an appropriate setting, filming the video in the Australian outback.

The video reflects the mood of the song quite nicely, as scenes of the seemingly endless landscape match up perfectly with the hazy, dreamy quality of the music. Check it out below.

Perfect Vision is out June 14 on Hardly Art Records.

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