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Week in Music > Oct 7-13 > Toronto


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It's been a great week of music in Toronto.

Monday I went and checked out the concert film "Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars". The low quality of this movie reminds you of how truly far we have come in the production of concert films. The difference between concert films "then and now" (with the exception of the Last Waltz) is that with the technology today, movie footage can make you actually believe you are sitting in the front row, having a pseudo-concert experience and allow you to leave the theatre feeling satisfied. "Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars" is the kind of old-school movie which, although very entertaining, isn't quite able to attain the same results. You can see all the elements (theatrical, emotional, musical) of what made the actual concert phenomenally killer, but looking through the shaky, grainy footage and listening past the less-than-pristine sound, proves ultimately to be a distracting experience. It was an eye opener seeing this movie how spoilt I must be these days with technology. Although I appreciate the nostalgia of the crackle of vinyl in an audio recording, when its a video/audio combo ... a concert film... I guess I have higher expectations.

Last Wednesday I made it out to the Strokes/Sloan show at the ACC. I've heard mixed reviews from all that were at that show. Among the complaints I have heard re: the Strokes set was that it was too short and their playing was not tight enough.

In sum: not enough bang for the proverbial buck.

If their playing was deemed by some to be too loose, it was possibly due to the fact that the band had been boozing all day (not that that's really any excuse for a professional musician....they should have enough practice - both in drinking and in playing - for that to not happen). A friend of mine interviewed two of them on the radio that afternoon and said that it was, quite possibly, the worst radio interview he had ever done; namely due to the fact that one of the interviewees was slurring his words, rolling around on the floor of the station, etc. In fact, my friend's new term for "wasted" is now "Julian" (the name of the lead singer). However, after hanging out with them, he had nothing but good things to say about them as people. I partied with the Strokes after the ACC show and also have to say they were pretty cool, polite guys. They gave off the "fame hasn't gotten to them yet" vibe. And man are they cute.

As for the show itself, my impression of it was favorable. Albeit, it was one of those performances that sound pretty much identical to the album. I'm not a die-hard Strokes fan but I remember really enjoying their album when it came out - seemingly right at the dawn of the popularity of the "The" bands... "The White Stripes", "The Hives", "The Vines", etc. At the time, I found it a very refreshing sound in comparison to the majority of albums at home on the Billboard charts. That was about a year ago and so the songs I have possibly heard a few too many times to get a massive thrill out of live. The quintessential moment for seeing this band live would have to have been last year's performance at the Horseshoe: large sound, contained & sweaty venue, and only

pre-hype-hype expectations surrounding the show.

After the Strokes show it was over to the Comfort Zone to see Mark Wilson and the Way it Is. Friends of Hefner were listed as opening but the guys played under the name "Guesthouse" (I think). I'm not sure if this is an entirely different lineup than FOH or not. Anyways, regardless, it was a great night of music - nice to see those two bands playing in Toronto.

Friday night I went and checked out Martin Tielli at the Rivoli which was incredible. Not even sure how to capture this performance in words... I can only say that he and his band are a musical treasure to experience. One of the interesting differences I found watching this show versus other shows I have seen lately was the crowd reaction. Walking from the stage towards the bar to get a drink I was captivated by the expressions on the faces of those in the audience. Seeing a room filled of people with gazes absorbed in the musician and bodies taut and riveted to one spot was a sharp contrast to the eyes-closed, loosely flowing bodies found at many other shows I have seen of late. Observing the physical expression of music in a crowd is a fascinating past-time; one could go on about the many factors (social, chemical, etc.) which contribute to the level at which people express, and feel comfortable expressing, their bodies with music.

Martin Tielli will be playing in/with the Rheostatics for another crazy eleven night run at the legendary Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, November 13-23. Definitely worth checking out. Last year's shows were diverse and memorable.

Saturday night I went and saw Smokestack at the Comfort Zone. I think the openers were called "Viberiders". I walked in near the end of the opening band's set and heard that it was possibly only their second or third show together. From what I saw, they were pretty good and I'd go see them again if they played in Toronto.

Seeing Smokestack was a pretty neat experience b/c I was actually on my way down to the Rivoli - back to see Martin Tielli play again - but decided to stop in to the Comfort Zone solely based on reviews I had read about these guys here on this site. After reading the raves, I went and checked out some info and downloads from their site and made the decision to see them based on that. I'm very glad I did. They were extremely talented musicians. I had some friends come meet me at the bar who don't listen necessarily to the same music that I do and they were further impressed. To top it off, these guys were tons of fun and knew how to party late into the night.

...Partied so late that I literally stumbled (with some help) the next evening (Sunday) over to a great venue - Hugh's Room - in Toronto to see Richie Havens play. Richie was in town both Saturday and Sunday night and played there both nights to a packed crowd. Last time I saw Richie Havens was at the Comfort Zone a few years ago. Hugh's Room was a bit better venue to see this particular artist in because there were tables to sit at to have dinner and watch the show. Also, there were a few different levels of seating so that all of the audience had a great vantage point to see the performers. The sound was also impeccable.

Richie Havens is an amazing performer. He was accompanied on stage with another guitarist and a conga player. One of the strangest things happened during his show... as he was intro-ing "Handsome Johnny", he asked for the man who had written it, an old friend of his who was in town, to come up on stange and join him. Turns out his old friend was "Academy Award Winner" Lou Gossett Jr. The two of them sang that song together.

I attempted to write down the setlist but things get a bit blurry near the end:

Set One:

Maggies Farm

Tuepelo Honey => Just Like a Woman

High Flying Bird

Alone Together

Stardust and Passion

Here Comes the Sun

Set Two:

Handouts in the Rain

Love is Alive

On the Road to Calvary


Handsome Johnny *



Freedom => Motherless Child

E: You Are So Beautiful (a capella)

Richie Havens is touring in support of a new album he has release called "Wishing Well" which actually also has a Pink Floyd cover on it. He does a version of "On the Turning Away".

Anyways, a great week in music has passed and another is up and coming: The Rolling Stones, Jimmy Swift Band, Bodega, Beck. etc.

Looking forward to it.....

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M !

What a week you had. Are they all like that?

Do the Rheostatics have any music available for download? I haven't heard them in years, but I consistently hear about them playing gigs in TO.

It was great to see you at smokestack. Perhaps we'll meet again at nero!

There does seem to be a lot of nero coming up in Toronto.

PS. Thanks for the drinkies!

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Hi guys, yeah - the weeks... they're all pretty crazy.

The Rheostatic's website is pretty shoddy - no download's available there. www.newmusiccanada.com is a great site where you can type in an artist and pretty much listen to whole albums of a variety of Canadian artists. The Rheo stuff that is up there currently isn't from their most recent album though and isn't the greatest.

They'll be playing on the 23rd (the night before the Nero Toronto show) for those coming into town for that weekend and are interested in checking them out.

Side note: just chatted with a friend of mine who was partying with Mick Jagger last night at a house party in Toronto. Apparently she and another girl I know were "brought" from a bar to go to the party. Mick was, as you can guess, very flirtatious.... and very twice their age.

Ah, you gotta love rock and roll.

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