CMW Review: The Lemonheads, Tommy Stinson, The Restless Age, May 8, Lee’s Palace

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While the idea of going out on the first couple of nights of CMW seemed a bit daunting to me, by Wednesday night, I was drawn out of my music fest hibernation to check out a couple of acts whose legacies stretch back to the 1980s – Tommy Stinson and The Lemonheads.

Taking the stage before Stinson and The Lemonheads were openers The Restless Age, a younger act than the others on the bill, but one whose sound hearkens back to an even earlier time with their piano-based pop bringing to mind the smooth sounds of ’70s singer-songwriters. That influence was made explicit by the end of their set when they closed things off with a James Taylor cover. With each member of the band taking the lead during their set and the three of them displaying some solid harmonies throughout, the band put on an impressive set.

Next up was Tommy Stinson, performing solo and acoustic throughout much of his set (he switched to electric for the last couple of tunes). Stinson was in a chatty mood, joking with the crowd (“Everyone pull out your iPhones. Here’s tonight’s tourist attraction”) and offering up a few good natured yet somewhat curmudgeonly complaints about his guitar stand and his new eyeglasses. Noting that he doesn’t do this kind of solo gig too often, Stinson promised that he was going to bust out some deep cuts for the occasion, and referred back to those new glasses again when explaining why he wasn’t working with a setlist – too hard to read and so, he was winging it. “So if you have any requests,” Stinson added, “Keep ‘em to yourself.”

Finally came the main event for the evening as Evan Dando and the current iteration of The Lemonheads took to the stage to play a set full of songs from throughout their career including classics such as “It’s A Shame About Ray”, “It’s About Time”, “The Outdoor Type” and “If I Could Talk I’d Tell You.” Touring behind their latest Varshons 2, the band also performed several of the songs off of that collection of covers, including versions of Yo La Tengo’s “Can’t Forget” and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ “Straight To You,” the latter of which stood out as one of the highlights of the night.

The band closed out their set with another cover, their version of Mike Nesmith’s “Different Drum” from 1990’s Favourite Spanish Dishes EP, thus ending things off on a high note.

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Posted on by Paul in Canadian Music Week

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