Concert Review: Joseph Arthur, August 3, The Dakota Taven

Toronto – Joseph Arthur generally gets lumped into the singer-songwriter genre.  That’s pretty accurate, but there’s a lot more to him than just that.  He makes extensive use of loops and layering in his live performance and it’s pretty impressive to watch.  Each song begins with a general structure – some rhythm guitar or a beat pounded onto the body of his guitar – and then gets built up from there.  Dude is basically jamming with himself.  As I said, it’s pretty impressive to see, but on the other hand, it’s also a little jarring to see him stop playing guitar while the sound continues on.  At one point, he set his guitar down and just sang for a bit over the loop and it came dangerously close to being like a karaoke performance.  A really good karaoke performance though.  Still, of all the performers I’ve seen do the looping thing, he’s one of the better ones.  He even used an awesome talkbox/vocoder effect on his vocals at one point, which brought Tupac’s “California Love” to mind, and ok, some Peter Frampton as well.

For the last few songs of his set, Arthur relied less on the looping and switched to an acoustic guitar.  He even sang the last two songs unamplified while standing at the end of the stage – we’ve talked here before about how that’s a great way to reel the audience in and/or shut them up.  Although Arthur didn’t really have to do much to get the audience’s full attention.  In fact, he pretty much already had it.  It was a pretty intimate show – the dance floor at The Dakota was filled with tables and chairs.  And those chairs were filled with more than a few hardcore fans.  Arthur opened up the floor to requests and of course they came fast and furious.  He ignored many of the requests as it had been awhile since he’d played those songs, but he did take a few requests.  He didn’t play “In the Sun” though, which is probably his biggest song, but he’s got a pretty extensive back catalogue so it wasn’t really missed.

Not just a talented songwriter, Joseph Arthur is also a visual artist and he was actually painting during his set … with one hand … while singing.  That’s pretty impressive.  He actually sold one of those paintings at the end of the night.  As far as merch goes, that’s a pretty unique item.

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Posted on by Paul in Concerts, Everything

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