Concert Review: Martha Wainwright, November 30, The Great Hall

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During her performance last night at The Great Hall, Martha Wainwright noted that two of her bandmates were from Toronto, which made this feel like a bit of a homecoming for her too. She also gave a shout out to a store across the street from the venue where she had just picked up the outfit she was wearing on stage, so it all felt pretty local. Wainwright later continued with the Toronto theme, telling a story about a time she spent here in her younger days before stopping herself.

“This story’s going nowhere. But you know what? Neither are you … Neither am I.” For their part, I’m sure the audience was glad she didn’t go anywhere.

With her loose, sometimes meandering, but generally enjoyable stage banter, Wainwright and her band seemed to be having a lot of fun up there – even a bad joke about her song “Getting Older” being called “Getting Younger” became kind of funny after she repeated it a few times in a row … and that bit then eventually morphed into a semi-pitch to buy a t-shirt from the merch table. Musically, the band was impressive, though also playful, such as one moment when they spontaneously started humorously riffing on some instrumental jazz while she was talking to the crowd.

While her band was impressive, some of the most memorable moments of the entire night came during the more stripped down moments in Wainwright’s set. At one point, the band left the stage as Wainwright ran through a few number from earlier in her career, commenting on how while she didn’t relate to some of those songs she wrote all those years ago, some resonated even more as she’s gotten older.

Other highlights of her set included a performance of Leonard Cohen’s “Chelsea Hotel” that saw her belting the song out powerfully. She followed that up with a lovely rendition of her mother Kate McGarrigle’s song “Talk To Me Of Mendocino” and later in the night played another of her mother’s songs, “Proserpina”, during her first encore.

Ending things off with a second encore of “Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole” after that seemed almost anticlimactic after what felt like a natural song to go out on but I’m sure a lot of fans were probably expecting to hear “BMFA” so it’s not like she could just skip it. And of course it still sounded great regardless, so what am I complaining about?

Song Of The Day: Quinquis – Adkrog

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“Adkrog”, the latest single from QUINQUIS (aka Émilie Tiersen), is a beautiful, moody piece which Tiersen describes as being “… about finding the energy in environment and nature”.

QUINQUIS just recently singed with Mute Records and has announced a series of upcoming European tour dates for the new year. Check out the video for “Adkrog” below.

Song Of The Day: Eels – The Magic

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When Eels mastermind E sings “I get it, don’t sweat it. I’m not your cup of tea” in the opening lines of their latest single “The Magic”, I get the impression this is something he’s likely had to say about his own band.

At this point, Eels have stuck around long enough to have a cult following while also decidedly sticking to their own guns and doing whatever pleases them musically – ie. not everyone’s cup of tea.

Sticking with the tea metaphor, the blend that Eels have put together on latest single “The Magic” is certainly tasty enough to please fans of the band, who will be able to hear it live in the new year when Eels will tour in support of their forthcoming album Extreme Witchcraft.

Extreme Witchcraft is out January 28 via PIAS and the band’s own E Works Records.

Concert Review: Caribou, November 23, Danforth Music Hall

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At the outset of Caribou‘s set at The Danforth on Tuesday night, Dan Snaith announced how happy he and the band were to be playing again and to see everyone at the show, adding, “Thank you for waiting so long for this.”

His words echoed those of most musical acts who have made their return to the stage over the past several months, but they seemed to hit a little harder and mean a little more at this show.

After all, if you’ll recall, Caribou was originally meant to be playing this show way back in March of 2020 and that original date was one of the first notable Toronto shows to be postponed due to COVID. So for it to finally be happening all these months later was certainly appreciated by all.

Snaith and his backing band put on a solid show, which is not too surprising considering they’ve been playing together for many years now. The band has an impressive musical rapport, exemplified on this evening by their epic performance of “Sun” – a song that went on so long that I almost forgot they were still playing that same song until they circled back to its main motif at the end. This is of course not a slight on them at all – “Sun” sounded brilliant and was one of the highlights of the night. It was far from the only one though, with “Odessa”, “Our Love” and the nonstop positivity parade that is “You Can Do It” also standing out as notable highlights.

In an interview done with The Toronto Star in advance of this show, Snaith described his current live set as “just a big dance party”, which is indeed an accurate description of what went on at the Danforth on this occasion. And while many people (around me at least) may have still refrained from full on dancing, it’s hard to argue that the energy levels of this show didn’t have that big dance party energy. This was a joyous performance.

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