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trews review (nice work 'ersh)


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Not a fan of the band but glad to see some recognition for a talented and hard-working piano man.

I'm glad Saxberg is shining some light on the fact that Capital is a shit venue.

Trews show suffers due to venue

OTTAWA - The Trews are a decent band, if you like old-school meat-and-potatoes rock with shades of Aerosmith and early Stones, but Wednesday was not a great moment on their current Canadian tour. In a game where the setting can make or break a gig, some of the blame should go to the venue, the Capital Music Hall. I'll get to that in a moment.

First, the show. After an overblown set by Toronto's My Darkest Days, The Trews got down to business before 11 p.m. and put the pedal to the metal right from the start. Bass hammering, drums bashing, guitars wailing, organ swirling and singer Colin MacDonald screaming his lungs out, they came out with all cylinders fired, an attack that powered them through No Time For Later, the title track to the latest disc, and their patented live version of Not Ready to Go, a proven crowd favourite that includes a segment of Humble Pie's 30 Days in the Hole.

The full-on momentum continued through another new song, the upbeat Celtic-flavoured barnburner, I Can't Stop Laughing, the singalong older hit, So She's Leaving, and the raucous Paranoid Freak.

By this point, it was clear that the brightest star of the night was going to be keyboardist Jeff Heisholt. The former Burt Neilson band member has joined the Trews' touring lineup, their first time travelling with a keyboardist, and it's obvious he's working hard to impress the MacDonald brothers.

Heisholt's boogie-woogie piano and earthy Hammond organ licks added a soulful, organic texture to the Trews' hard-driving rock, and though I can't say it totally redefined their sound, it was a nice touch for a band that has always had a tendency towards playing loud and heavy.

Between his Big Brother/The Band-influenced contributions and the increasingly psychedelic noodling of guitarist John-Angus MacDonald, it could have been a demonstration of a whole new side of the Trews, and I'd be comparing the MacDonald brothers to the Robinson brothers (of Black Crowes' fame.)

Fans, drinking heavily, thought it was the best show ever, their beaming faces blasted by the volume. However, in my opinion, the Trews never quite lost their rushed edge during this performance, even during the slower, supposedly more soulful songs, such as I Feel The Rain and Hands in the Air. In their haste to speed from guitar solo to drum solo to keyboard solo, they forgot to relax and settle into the groove.

Too much coffee? Perhaps. Or maybe they just wanted to get the job done. It was swelteringly hot in the upstairs room, stuffed with a sold-out audience of 600 or so, and I wouldn't blame the musicians if they wanted to get it over with and grab a breath of fresh air outside.

For fans, the two-level George Street club isn't much fun when it's packed, unless you're prepared to defend a spot on the floor. Although it's been renovated so it has glitzy washrooms and a chandelier at the entrance, nothing was done to improve the sightlines from the second level.

In this cramped, awkward space, spectators have gave the choice of being squashed in the crowd on the first floor, or unable to see from the second (unless you arrived early enough to stake out prime upper-level real estate closest to the stage.) On the plus side, it was plenty loud enough to hear from every crevice of the building.

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'ersh was kind enough to offer me a guestlist spot but since they weren't going on until eleven, I knew I couldn't do it. waaahhhh!

It sounds like he's brought some serious game to the Trews.

They'll be back for the Ottawa Ex so let's get a group out!

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