Concert Review: Christine And The Queens, November 5, Danforth Music Hall

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With a simply fantastic show, Christine and the Queens danced and sang their way straight to the heart of everyone at the Danforth Music Hall on Monday night. Christine and The Queens is a French singer who first rose to popularity a few years ago with the song “Tilted” and you may or may not have seen videos of her performance on The Graham Norton Show which kinda went viral, I think

Anyways, it’s been a few years and Christine and the Queens recently released a new record – Chris. The record, chalk full of intensely personal songs set to extremely danceable ’80s dance beats, has been a hit everywhere.

A sold out and rabid crowd greeted Héloïse Letissier and her dancers as they took the stage shortly after 9:00 and for the next 90 minutes we were treated to show with relentless energy and heart. Christine and the Queens made great use of Letissier’s musical theatre background throughout the night, using dance and lighting to emphasize each song and frankly, made the show visually captivating the whole time. It would be easy for the show to thread into musical territory but it didn’t, thanks to a good mix of fast paced songs, casual friendly banter and powerful solo ballad that showed off her voice.

The highlights of course, were the hits – “Tilted”, “5 Dollars”, “Girlfriend” and “Doesn’t Matter” had many people moving. I would actually say the highlight was the whole show. It was creative, energizing and she is so endearing that it actually warms your heart. A great thing on a cold, dark night.

PS. If you haven’t heard CATQ talk about the song “Doesn’t Matter” on the podcast Song Exploder, make sure to check it out.

Song Of The Day: Beans On Toast – Alexa

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In describing his upcoming album A Bird In The Hand, British folk/indie singer-songwriter Beans On Toast describes it as less of a political record than his previous albums and “… more personal I guess, focusing on family and the world on my doorstep.” While I’m sure that’s a fair assessment (who would know better than the guy who wrote the songs, after all?), there certainly seems to be a political aspect to his latest single “Alexa,” an ode to the handy-dandy virtual assistant (and corporate eavesdropper) that so many are welcoming into their lives these days.

Lyrics such as “And it’s not really spying, it’s just collecting data/Alexa, have you got a hidden agenda?” and “I know you can turn the heating off and organize a taxi/Alexa, have you considered your miltary capabilities?” make it clear that Beans is making a comment on the role of technology, consumerism, and corporate interests in our daily lives, though he does so with his trademark sense of humour. And he also makes it clear that he’s been drawn into it all too as he sings “I’ve been buying more and more from Amazon recently.”

Check out the video for “Alexa” below, featuring animation created out of discarded Amazon cardboard boxes.

Concert Review: Jeen, November 1, Horseshoe Tavern

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Jeen‘s stage banter was rather timely during her Thursday night show at the Horseshoe, making reference at one point to the recent legalization of cannabis. “Everyone smoking more pot?” she asked before adding, “All I know is it’s completely messed up my purchasing.” It’s not like Jeen was revealing any big secret about herself though – “Medicate Me”, a song off of the Toronto singer’s latest album which she’s described as “an ode to introverts,” touches on the topic of marijuana and “weed therapy.”

That new album, Gift Shop, was mixed by Toronto music legend Ian Blurton, who also lent his talents as a member of Jeen’s live band. I’ll admit Blurton’s involvement was a bit of a draw for me – the guy’s always entertaining to see live – although he kept things relatively subdued and kept any of his trademark shredding to a minimum. And while he did let loose on occasion, the focus for the night was squarely on the songs themselves.

And Jeen’s songs sounded pretty good, despite her announcement at the outset that she couldn’t really hear anything in her monitor. “We’ll just go with the flow,” she said, and that flow took Jeen and her band through a series of songs that ran the gamut from the danceable “Won’t Be Long Now” to the driving rock of “Any Moment” and set highlight “Pull Out Your Knives.” All in all, a show worth leaving the house for on a rainy Thursday night.

Concert Review: The Twilight Sad, October 27, Velvet Underground

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“Hello Toronto. It’s been awhile,” said Twilight Sad vocalist James Graham to the crowd upon taking the stage (adding that there was no intended reference to “that shite Staind song”) and perhaps because they’d been away for awhile, the band wasted no time in getting right down to business.

Starting out strong with “There’s A Girl In The Corner,” The Twilight Sad put on an intense, emotionally charged performance that covered songs from throughout their career, from “That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy” to “The Wrong Car” to a trio of songs off of their upcoming album IT WON/T BE LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME, which sees the band continuing on with the synth heavy post-punk sounds they’ve been working with ever since 2012’s No One Can Ever Know – listening to some of the new tracks, I’d wager the band may have learned a trick or two from all that time spent opening for The Cure on their last arena tour. The highlight of the set though was a beautiful cover of Frightened Rabbit’s “Keep Yourself Warm,” a song that the band has been performing regularly on this tour in memory of the late Scott Hutchison.

As they ended things off for the night, Graham thanked the crowd for coming out, again acknowledging that they hadn’t played Toronto in some time. “We’ve not toured in awhile so that you’ve come out to see us on a Saturday night is absolutely mind blowing,” he said. And while it was true that The Twilight Sad hadn’t been through Toronto for a bit, Saturday night’s show at Velvet Underground was well worth the wait.

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