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.

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

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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.

Concert Review: Tegan & Sara, June 25, Hilton Toronto

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tegan & sara

It’s not every day you get invited to a private concert. It’s certainly not every day you get invited to a private concert by Hilton Hotels featuring Tegan & Sara, so like a moth to the flame, I hastily accepted my invitation to this exclusive show that took place Saturday night in the heart of Toronto.

A show held by Hilton Toronto that was billed as an exclusive experience to Hilton HHonors members, Tegan & Sara was a small and intimate affair in which probably half the crowd just went there for free food and drinks, but definitely left as Tegan & Sara fans.

It’s funny, as I was doing my typical in-depth (but not too in-depth) analysis of the night, I came to the startling realization that Tegan & Sara might just be my favorite Canadian act from the past half decade. Starting with The Con, I have definitely enjoyed their releases, accumulating with their new release, Love You To Death. Released just recently, Love You to Death is pop music at it’s finest, big tracks full of hooks and ear worms. As the group took the stage and launched into their first track, the hit single “Boyfriend,” it was apparent I was not the only one who felt that way as a majority of that crowd already knew the lyrics.

The rest of the set comprised of a combination of tracks from their previous works, including old classic “Walking With a Ghost.” In between the set, the group engaged with the crowd, telling stories about latte art, their love for Hilton (maybe tongue in cheek) and accepting facetime messages from fans on stage. It was all part of the Tegan & Sara charm. Standouts from the set include new track “Stop Desire and of course, the closing song “Closer,” one of their best and most likely identified as the track that ushered in the Tegan & Sara pop era, one that has seen them rise to the top and based off this record, will keep them there for awhile.

Hot Docs review: After Circus (2015, Viveka Melki)

Posted on by Paul in Hot Docs | Leave a comment


The circus is generally seen by many as a world of wonder, a place where we can be entertained by performers engaging in acrobatics, feats of strength, and various acts of derring-do. But what becomes of those performers when they get too old to keep performing? Where do they go when it’s time to call it quits?

After Circus takes a look at the community of retired (or semi-retired) circus performers based in Sarasota, Florida, the circus capital of the world.  Going in, I wasn’t certain what to expect, and thought that this might be a doc along the lines of Beyond The Mat, Barry Blaustein’s 1999 look at the lives of pro wrestlers. Thankfully, this film isn’t too much of a downer and generally takes a more lighthearted, sentimental look at it’s subjects’ lives, though it does touch on some of the realities of life after the circus and the struggle with issues such as health concerns, where to live, and how they’ll take care of themselves as they reach old age.

Even though most of the performers we see onscreen are no longer able to perform as they once could, each of them look back fondly on their experiences and seem to hold no regrets over their time in the circus. After Circus presents a heartwarming and slightly bittersweet look at people who are still loving that circus life.

After Circus screens again on Saturday, May 7 at 1:00pm at Scotiabank Theatre 13.

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