Archive for February, 2009

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Antony and the Johnsons: Different

February 28, 2009

After seeing Antony and the Johnsons at St. Andrew’s-Wesley Church in September 2005, I declared that it was one of the best concerts I had ever been to. Considering I’ve been to a zillion gigs, that was pretty high praise. But it really was that transcendent.

So last night I went to the Antony & the Js show at the Vogue Theatre with the hope that it would be another great show, but also the fear that it couldn’t possibly top the last time. (Hope and fear – the story of my life.) As it turned out, Antony and the group gave another sublime concert. I can’t, however, really say whether it was better or not as good as the church performance. Instead, I’ll say it was different.

The St. Andrew’s-Wesley gig was all about the beauty: of Antony’s singular voice, his mesmerizing songs, the gorgeous strings, and the spiritual setting. It was like going to church, but one where a large transgendered man with a heavenly voice could be free to express himself.

At the Vogue, the beauty was definitely there. But there were new dimensions. Musically, the strings were as affecting as last time, but the group sounded less like a chamber ensemble and more like a band. Multi-instrumentalist Doug Wielselman segued from playing gentle clarinet lines to shredding assertive riffs on electric guitar. Rob Moose switched between acoustic guitar, violin and vocals with finesse.

As for Antony, just like he did three years ago, he fully conveyed the love and pain of his songs. When not singing, he was way more talkative, going on extended riffs about the loss of street culture in vulnerable communities, the therapeutic value of fish, and other random topics. He was funny and adorable. I also liked his big handbag.

A word about the opening act. It was this intriguing creature who did this strange dance, with various props, including what looked like chocolate sauce that she poured all over herself. Interesting. Different.

I’m stealing again from BunkleLife, who excels in stealth videography. Here’s a superb version of “Fistful of Love” from the Vogue:

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In Heaven with David Byrne

February 21, 2009

Boy am I dumb. I was excited about going to last night’s David Byrne concert at the QE Theatre, but I made a false assumption. Because the show was billed “Songs of David Byrne and Brian Eno”, I assumed he would stick to songs from the two albums he’s released with Eno: last year’s Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, and the 1981 classic My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.

I got it half right. Byrne and his band did quite a few tunes from the new album. I think he only did one song from My Life in the Bush of Ghosts: “Help Me Somebody”. It would have been challenging to do much more, because as Byrne pointed out during the concert, he and Eno didn’t actually sing on that way-ahead-of-its-time album. It featured samples of otherworldly Arabic singers, fire and brimstone preachers, exorcists and other found sounds. I still have my copy on vinyl.

What I forgot about is that Eno produced and collaborated with the Talking Heads at their prime, and material from that era could fit under the theme of songs by Byrne and Eno. As it turned out, Byrne and band performed songs from the three Eno-produced Heads albums: More Songs About Building and Food (“Take Me to The River”), Fear of Music (“I Zimbra”, “Life During Wartime”, “Heaven”) and a bunch from my favourite Remain in Light (“Born Under Punches”, “Crosseyed and Painless”, “The Great Curve”, “Once in a Lifetime”, “Houses in Motion”). They even did one post-Eno song, “Burning Down The House”, which Byrne kind of had to do because it was the Talking Heads’ biggest hit.

Talking Heads

It’s hard to describe what it felt like to hear these songs, which were such an important part of my 80s life soundtrack. I saw the Talking Heads once, in 1983 at the Pacific Coliseum, and I’ve seen Byrne as a solo artist about three times since. But I never thought I would hear these tunes live again, and performed with such vitality. Byrne’s vocal strength hasn’t diminished; his guitar playing is still wonderfully catatonic. The band locked into sinuous grooves. Byrne and the three backup singers (plus bassist Paul Frazier who sings) worked up gorgeous harmonies. The three dancers were a bonus. By the end it was a euphoric dance party. My idea of Heaven.

Thanks to BunkleLife for this fun video of “Burning Down The House” (the tutus were a nice touch):

Addendum: Here’s what Byrne blogged about Vancouver.

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Art Bergmann Returns

February 12, 2009

Last night I saw a surprising notice in my Facebook news feed: Art Bergmann is playing a gig in Vancouver! Well, it’s true: Art will perform March 26 at Richard’s on Richards. There’s info on the gig at this excellent fan site that’s all about Art.

You might be going, Art who? Allow me to explain. Art was a legendary figure in Vancouver’s punk and alternative music scene in the 1970s and 80s. When Art was on his game, he made an incredible impact as an intense singer, fiery electric guitarist and vivid songwriter. He should have been a huge star, but that didn’t happen, in large part because the industry screwed him around. The last I heard, he was living on a farm in Alberta and out of music.

So it’s surprising to hear about this gig. I’m somewhat afraid to go, in case his edgy brilliance has eroded. But of course I’ll be there. I’m also looking forward to hearing the unreleased recordings on the Lost Art Bergmann CD, which will be released at the gig.

I got another surprise while looking around that fan site – I found an article I wrote about Art in 1984 for The Ubyssey student newspaper. The interview took place over breakfast, beer and cigarettes at a long-defunct east side restaurant called Dr. Munchies. Some of the writing is embarrassing (I was young), but here’s the story. My friend Neil took the photos below at Dr. Munchies.

Welcome back Art.

CW

Art Bergmann

Art Bergmann 2

Art Bergmann 3

Bonus material: Art with the Young Canadians in 1980, doing their classic tune “Hawaii”. Check out the go-go dancers:

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Tomas Haake Autograph Session, Upcoming Metal Shows

February 8, 2009

When I heard Meshuggah was coming to town, I immediately knew what was also going to happen. AUTOGRAPH SESSION. But only with the drummer. It’s always just the drummer who signs autographs here, I have no clue why, but anyways that’s how it should be.

Tomas was pretty cool. He told me about the upcoming live DVD coming out in spring. I am so stoked. Hopefully it’ll be as good as Colours_Live from BTBAM, I’m still speechless from that. According to Tomas, Meshuggah is currently still filming from this tour with Cynic and The Faceless. Right, about that, it sucks that I can’t go to the show here (I’m not old enough, nor would I look old enough even with a fake ID). I’m gonna miss out. Well there’s Meshuggah performing, one of my favorite bands who never cease to amaze, freaking Cynic who took like 15 years to write their second album Traced In Air (which is amazing by the way and totally worth the wait unlike others *cough-Chinese Democracy-cough*), and The Faceless, a band that I’m really into right now. Y’all go find Planetary Duality and give it a listen, it’s brutal to the max.

Hopefully I’ll make it out to the Cannibal Corpse show two nights after Lamb Of God. Actually the bill for the Cannibal Corpse tour is really good. Cannibal Corpse, The Faceless, Neuraxis, and Obscura. Real brutal technical stuff. We’ll see.

miles \m/