lee’s palace

Concert Review: Nada Surf, March 29, Lee’s Palace

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | 2 Comments

A Monday night concert is sometimes a bit of a hard sell.  It was for this reason that I decided to miss the opening act and watch some Monday night TV instead before heading out to see Nada Surf.  So instead of catching Dawn Landes and the Hounds, I stayed home and watched Chuck.  In a sense, the TV show itself acted as a pretty good opener, since I sort of associate Nada Surf with Chuck creator Josh Schwartz anyways.

I got to Lee’s Palace a few minutes before Nada Surf came on.  When they took the stage, they started off strong with “See These Bones” followed by “Whose Authority,” probably the two best songs on their album Lucky.  Lead singer Matthew Caws joked that if people were waiting to hear those songs, it might be an early night for them and made it clear that this was not a show in support of Lucky.

Instead, the band was touring in support of their new covers album, If I Had A Hi-Fi.  That said, they played plenty of their own songs too, the highlights for me being those first two songs as well as “Your Legs Grow.”   As far as covers go, my favourite of those was a version of Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy The Silence,” not because it was the most recognizable of the tunes they played, but because they actually reinterpreted it slightly, changing the melody and tempo up a bit.  Definitely the best cover of that song I’ve ever heard and I’ve heard a few.

A few things I noticed during their set: Matthew Caws changes guitars a lot.  I noticed the guitar tech passing him a guitar for almost every second song.  I understand his reasons for doing so, but still, it seemed a bit distracting at times.  Also, bassist Daniel Lorca, with his head full of giant blonde dreads, looks more like he should be playing in Sepultura than Nada Surf, but that’s neither here nor there.

As i said, Mondays can be hard sometimes, but Lee’s was pretty packed tonight.  The crowd was definitely into it, and no one seemed to mind that the band neglected to play their most “popular” song … and I think the band is glad not to have to play that song anyways.  Still , I’ve got to admit, I wouldn’t have minded hearing it.

Here’s the setlist for the night:


Concert Review: Thrush Hermit, March 26 & 27, Lee’s Palace

Posted on by Paul in Concerts, Everything | 1 Comment

Toronto – We here at The Panic Manual have made no secret of the fact that we like Joel Plaskett.  The dude has been writing good tunes and playing great shows for awhile now.  But as I’m sure many of you are aware, before he went solo, he was a part of the great East Coast band Thrush Hermit.  I probably remember seeing Thrush Hermit first on the old MuchMusic program Much East. (creative name, that)  Their videos from back in the day were a little bit odd and definitely pretty awesome.  I also remember getting their album Sweet Homewrecker through the old Columbia House music club thing.  Ah nostalgia …

And I suppose in a way nostalgia is what brought me to this show.  I liked this band a lot back in the day and still do, but I never got to see them.  So I was really looking forward to these shows, so much so that I got tickets for both nights (but passed on the Sunday afternoon show … that would be too much Hermit even for me.  If anyone saw it though, let me know how it was)  And Thrush Hermit did not disappoint.  Taking to the stage to the strains of the intro to “Skip The Life” playing on a loop (which gave it a weird Twin Peaks-ish quality) and lit by the warm neon glow of their “Rock & Roll” sign, they immediately kicked into a night of their greatest hits.  They played pretty much every song I would’ve wanted them to, except “I’m Sorry If Your Heart Has No More Room.”  I would have shouted out a request for it, but that would have taken too long and been a bit awkward to shout out, so alas, I didn’t hear it. 

 I also didn’t hear the opening acts on either night, which bummed me out a bit afterwards as I heard that Attack In Black played on Saturday.  Oh well, such is life.  What I did see, however, was some weird jazz band playing at The Tranzac on Friday night before heading to Lee’s.  Their guitar player looked like Matt Groening and had lots of effect pedals.  And on Saturday, I saw Mayor Miller drinking alone at a neighbourhood bar.  You’d think the Mayor would be able to rustle up a few drinking buddies, but whatever. 

Thrush Hermit put on a great show, rocking out like almost no time had passed.  In fact, time seemed to be a theme for the night, as right before the band came on, Colin James’ “I Just Came Back To Say Goodbye” was piped in over the speakers and after the band left the stage, we were treated to Cher’s “If I Could Turn Back Time” to tell us it was time to go.  Also, Rob Benvie and Joel Plaskett got into a brief discussion on time vortexes and such.  And I’m always up for some good time vortex banter, so that was good. 

There wasn’t too much variation between the sets on each night.  In fact, speaking of lack of variation, I suspect that Ian McGettigan has been wearing the same shirt for every show of the tour.  If so, I applaud his decision.  As I said, the hits were pretty much covered.  Highlights included “On The Sneak,” “The Day We Hit The Coast,” “Oh My Soul!”, “Heart Wrenching Man,” ” Hated It,” “French Inhale,” “North Dakota,” Joel Plaskett flashing a light on the crowd during “From The Back Of The Film”  and the highlight of the set on both nights, “Violent Dreams.”  On Friday, they also played a song I totally didn’t recognize, “Take Another Drag.”  Even Benvie seemed a bit surprised as he looked down at the setlist: “That’s one for the diehards.”  Saturday was notable for the appearance onstage on Sloan’s Chris Murphy, who introduced the band for their second encore and joined them onstage for a duet with Benvie on “25 All Right.”  

Oh, and Saturday night was also notable for being loud.  Very loud.  I’m sure it was also loud on Friday night, but on Saturday I was up front and to the right of the stage.  I think I could actually feel my skull shake.  I happened to be passing by Lee’s Palace on Sunday afternoon too, and could hear the bass from outside the venue.  So yeah, loud.  But loud is good.

CMW Review: Plants & Animals, Mar 12, Lee’s Palace

Posted on by Mark in Canadian Music Week, Concerts | 2 Comments

Panic Manual (Plants & Animals Lee's Palace March 12 2010)

Toronto – Montreal-based Plants & Animals played an energetic show at Lee’s Palace last Friday to a packed audience. In 2008, they released Parc Avenue, a lush sounding album with plenty of orchestral padding. Their upcoming album La La Land is scheduled to release in April. The show consisted of a mix of both new and old material; giving their fans a taste of what’s to come, and also spinning out sing-along friendly hits like Faerie Dance and Bye Bye Bye.

What’s so interesting about seeing Plants & Animals live is just how different it is from the album experience.  Until seeing them live, I wasn’t aware that the band consisted of a mere three members. When you listen to Parc Avenue, you hear backup vocals, strings, and brass. It’s easy to assume that you’re dealing with a huge Arcade Fire sized outfit. But Plants & Animals is a brainchild that resides in the minds of two east-coasters and a French Canadian.

With just the three of them, the live show certainly doesn’t have that lush sound heard in the album. However, what they lack in padding they more than make up for in energy. These three musicians definitely have a special live synergy. The entire band was dripping with sweat within 20 minutes of their relatively short CMW set. One concert first for me was seeing lead singer Warren Spicer replace a broken string on his guitar in between songs. I guess he really liked playing that particular guitar.

I waited in line for the better part of an hour and made it into Lee’s with mere minutes to spare before Plants & Animals played their first chord. It was well worth the wait and this show is on my highlight reel for CMW this year. I’d be curious to see what they would sound like if you were to combine their raw live energy with their entourage of beautiful backing vocals and brass.

CMW Review: The Bonfire Ball featuring Jason Collett, Zeus and Bahamas, March 10, Lee’s Palace

Posted on by Paul in Canadian Music Week, Concerts, Everything | 3 Comments

Toronto – So for the longest time I wasn’t even sure I was getting into this show.  For whatever reason, the wait to get into Lee’s Palace was ridiculously long and slow.  The good thing about this was meeting new people and bonding over the general craziness of it all while wondering whether we should cut out and try to get into the Vivian Girls or Fucked Up shows that were alos happening tonight.  But I stuck it out and finally made it to the front of the line.  The wait made the show itself all that much sweeter. 

Once I was inside, the Collett/Bahamas/Zeus supergroup was well into their set.  The venue was packed and performers seemed to be having as much fun onstage as we had watching them.  And the band was fantastic, switching between each other’s songs with ease.  Each individual songwriter had a style that blended well with each other.  This is not surprising, seeing as Zeus is Collett’s backing band, and Afie Jurvanen (aka Bahamas) used to be a member of the band.   The overall sound was reminiscent of various ’60s and ’70s sounds without really being derivative or unoriginal.   I read elsewhere that they did a Kylie Minogue cover for their encore, but I didn’t see that as I left to check out another show.  Too bad, that would’ve been pretty cool to see.

 I have seen Collett, Bahamas. and Zeus perform seperately in the past and they were undoubtedly good, but somehow tonight, by joining forces, they became even greater than the sum of their parts … like a Canadian indie rock version of Voltron.