Concert Review: Primal Scream, November 4, Danforth Music Hall

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Photo by Sarah Rix

Photo by Sarah Rix

Playing an eerily similar set to what they played at Danforth Music Hall just over a year and a half ago, the Primal Scream show last Friday was short on surprises but to a liquored up Friday night middle aged crowd, that was just fine. Sometimes the best things in life are the comfortable things, like a sip of your favourite scotch or the pleasant feeling of getting that bi monthly paycheck. At the risk of going off the rails here are some comments. I’m not gonna bother introducing the band because you aren’t reading this thing to know what a band you haven’t heard about sounds like live anyway. If you disagree, I ask you to go read an episode recap of some TV show you don’t watch.

Movin On Up – I’m uncertain as to whether or not I like this as the first song of the set or as the first song of the encore. As a lead song it gets you into a great mood and everyone is into it, but as a downside you don’t get Bobby Gillespie yelling, “Are you ready to testify!” while everyone is already dancing before launching into the song.

Swastika Eyes – this song is a beast live. I mean it sounds nice live but to hear it with a full band in all its loud glory is a different experience all together. You compare this with Screamadelica material and it’s amazing how it comes from the same band

Rocks – “Rocks” was a bit disappointing. To me, “Rocks” is just a blistering rock tune that’s full of swagger and just a track that makes you feel cool. However, Bobby kinda just hung back and didn’t deliver the song with as much gusto as I would have expected. It was at this point I was wondering – Is he tired? Are we old? Is this an end of the tour kinda show? I couldn’t place it, but it was definitely lacking the punch you normally expect.

Come Together – The glaring omission from last years show was a good enough reason attend this years show. One of the many great tracks off Screamadelica, “Come Together”‘s dreamy sound soothed all the souls in the house if only for a few minutes and left everyone in a feel good mood. There’s something calming and uplifting about singing “I’m Free! You’re Free!” with a room full of people.

Whatever reservation I might have about this show, which I put as slightly inferior to last years, the crowd still ate it up. Frankly, even if I feel like this show had a little less energy then last year’s show, I also have a little less energy than last year so it’s probably fitting in a macro kind of way.

Planet in Focus: Freightened (2016, Denis Delestrac)

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One of the great things about documentaries is that they take you into places you would otherwise never go, and shed new light in places you never looked. Freightened is one of those documentaries. Directed by Denis Delestrac, it was a documentary I was immediately drawn to simply because it was about a topic I don’t know anything about – container ships.

A carefully paced film, Freightened mixes talking heads with good footage to illustrate the hidden world that is the shipping industry. From poor working conditions to loose regulations, the film brings to light a bevy of problems that this largely ignored (publicly speaking) industry faces. I found Freightened to be informative and interesting and that is a great sign of a good documentary.

Go check it out.

Planet in Focus Review: Bugs (2016, Andreas Johnsen)

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If the US Election doesn’t have you wondering about the fate of the world more these days, Planet in Focus is back for yet another round of all too real documentaries. In what is now it’s 17th year, Planet In Focus will take place over the next few days and the topics that surround this festival is growing increasingly relevant as our world starts to undergo increasingly drastic changes. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Bugs is one of the better documentaries I have seen in recent years.

Directed by Andreas Johnsen, Bugs follows around two chefs from the Nordic food lab as they embark on a world wide journey to taste and learn about all the edible bugs in the world. With the world population expected to reach very high numbers in the next few decades, there are strong indications that humans will increasingly rely on insects for their protein. ALthough a vast number of people in the world already partake in the consumption of these multi-legged wonders, us in the Western Hemisphere still look at these animals with unease.

This Western Hemisphere problem is what the two chefs try to solve as they travel across the globe and eat bugs and learn from different cultures – they travel to Africa, Japan, Asia and all sorts of places. Some of the insects they eat are ridiculous and you have to appreciate the eat everything attitude of the chefs. The film not only highlights the many different types of insects you can eat, but also the problems with this new industry which as you would guess, its primed for exploitation. It’s a very real documentary that focus on some very real problems the human race will be facing in the future, but done with a light heartedness that makes it enjoyable and entertaining.

The documentary screens tomorrow at Innis Hall, check it out

Hot Docs Review: Miss Sharon Jones! [2016, Barbara Kopple]

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Miss Sharon Jones!

Not so much a music doc as it is a triumphant look at the human spirit, Miss Sharon Jones! is a heartwarming tale of the incomparable Sharon Jone’s fight with cancer, which occurred a few years ago.

Directed by Barbara Kopple, the documentary follows Sharon Jones from the onset of her illness to her recovery stage, mixing in live music footage, talking heads and an observational style. The documentary mostly assumes that you are aware of who Sharon Jones is (even if most of the regular day people she encounters does not) and doesn’t really delve into her musical journey from wedding singer to Daptones MVP. Still, those who are fans of her will delight in the fact that Sharon Jones is as much a fighting spirit off the stage as she is on the stage.

As you watch the Sharon Jones battle cancer, you can’t help but feel a sense of joy when she overcomes the illness and goes back to what she loves doing most – performing. The film, as you would expect, is soundtracked by the music of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and the songs are carefully chosen, lending extra weight to some of the lyrics of the songs that accompany the journey.

A splendid film.

Miss Sharon Jones! plays this upcoming week at Hot Docs Cinema, click here for more details.

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