All the Poop That's Fit to Shovel
(Alt Music News Updated Every Afternoon)
ChartAttack Daily CMW Update: Roving reporters Amber Meredith and Chris Burland log in with these two show reviews from Night 1 of Canadian Music Week.
Mike Scott at Trinity-St. Paul's Church: Happy March 5 to you all. It's a frosty day in Toronto, the second day of Canadian Music Week, and I celebrated its kick-off yesterday with a show by…well, a non-Canadian. Mike Scott, former lead singer of the Waterboys, swung through town last night for the sixth stop on his North American tour: his first sold-out date so far. Toronto has a handful of venues like this one - acoustically perfect worship centres who have opened their doors to pop performers. It helps pay the rent and the artists appreciate the opportunity to showcase in a soft-seater venue where smoking and beer-swilling aren't the priority of the evening.
Of course, Mike Scott is a good choice for a venue like this in many ways: his audience is primarily thirtysomething intellectuals who enjoyed the Waterboys' '80s output in their college years, and who (mellowed with age and responsibility) savour the older, rocking hits along with the quieter fare served up on Scott's first solo outing, Bring 'Em All In. Coincidentally, Scott has also "found religion" in his few years out of the spotlight; albeit a sort of New Agey, mystical religion that talks a lot about meditation, visions, and coming into the light.
But it wasn't all touchy-feely, acoustic fuzziness; in fact, Scott took delight in playing with the rock persona. Playing up his physical similarity to Mick Jagger, Scott glammed it up with a silver satin shirt, stylin' pinstriped pants, and a colour-saturated light and slide show that pushed certain numbers into the realm of high camp (especially "City Full of Ghosts (Dublin)"). He wasn't afraid to pull a few ironic rock poses, tease the crowd with the older stuff they'd come hoping for ("Whole of the Moon" and "Return of Pan" made it into the 2-hour performance; sorry Charlie, but "Fisherman's Blues" didn't), and then switch effortlessly to distortionless acoustic guitar or organ-like keyboard melodies to showcase a softer moment.
Maybe it's just my disappointment with the standard offerings of this week's "Canadian" lineup, but I couldn't think of a better way to start a week of show-hopping than with the strong Scotch melodies of Mike Scott. Have a delightful day, wherever you are. - Amber Meredith
Jad Fair and Phonocomb at the Cameron House: Monday March 4th saw a return of the constantly-kid-like Jad Fair to Toronto. His latest of many collaborative efforts is with former Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, Don Pyle and Reid Diamond, Beverley Breckenridge of Fifth Column and Dallas Good of The Sadies. Talented collaboraters notwithstanding, the show was pure Jad - his twisted contortions on stage, the quirky vocal style, and the unplugged electric guitar he strummed on, almost unaware it was not plugged in. The song highlights included "Lucinda" and "Absent Heart", plus a wack of new songs that sound great live. The Cameron was in better form than on recent previous visits - the cigarette smoke was bearable, as was the heat. But it's definitely not on my list of places to be if a fire broke out - the extra tables were stacked up near the fire exit seemed ominous. Tonight, it's off to the Rivoli for some Goldfish and Chickpea. - Chris Burland