Concert Review: Chad VanGaalen, May 24, Lee’s Palace

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As he took to the stage with his band, Chad VanGaalen seemed a little taken aback by the size of the crowd in a packed Lee’s Palace.  “Look at this.  What the fuck is this?  This is ridiculous!”  Truth be told, I was a little surprised at the size of the crowd too.  I’m not sure why, since VanGaalen is a talented musician and songwriter with a solid band who put on an impressive live show.  Perhaps the only thing ridiculous about it was expecting he would play to anything less than a full house on a Saturday night in Toronto.

VanGaalen’s latest album, Shrink Dust, was partly inspired by his purchase of a pedal steel guitar, making it his version of a country album. However, the live presentation came across as much more of a straight ahead rock show with numbers such as opener “Cut Off My Hands” and crowd favourite “Willow Tree” taking on more beefed up arrangements. 

The whole set had a bit of a Neil Young vibe about it, with the Young comparison being most notable in “Lila.” That song, about his deceased dog, was prefaced with a humourous story about how after it died, he simply dragged the body out into the forest to let it decompose.  His tale of a later trip to see its remains with his daughters wherein one of them asked to take the jawbone as a memento was a bit weird yes, but certainly a great story. VanGaalen’s stories and jokes throughout the set were engaging and entertaining and yes, also a bit weird. Just like his music.

Posted on by Paul in Concerts

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