Secret Chiefs 3 Live at The Great Hall September 14, 2017

Categories: 2017 and Music.

This was my second Secret Chiefs 3 show, in a much better venue than the last time. It was also a very different experience and I’m not sure whether that’s because SC3 are doing something different on this tour (apparently they are here opening for Dead Cross) or whether the venue made them. Read More

The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper (1969)

Categories: 1968, 1969, and Music.

Much like Super Session (the studio version of this record), this album suffers a little from happenstance: Mike Bloomfield had a habit of wearing himself out and he’s not present on all tracks (much like on Super Session where he was replaced for half of it by Stephen Stills). But he’s present on most (and Carlos Santana is one of his replacements). Read More

At the Drive-In Live at Rebel, Toronto, March 29, 2017

Categories: 2017 and Music.

When I was young, band reunions were thought of as really awful: just a bunch of washed up musicians trying to make money. But times have changed: reunions are now viewed as normal and often something to be cherished. I think I’ve changed too, I’ve grown up a bit. When I was young, I had no interest in seeing my favourite 70s bands reunited. I thought it was an awful idea. But now I recognize that this is a completely natural thing for people to want to do: to recapture the glory of lost youth. Sometimes it probably doesn’t work Read More

The Dillinger Escape Plan Live at The Opera House, Friday December 16, 2016

Categories: 2016 and Music.

I wanted to go see The Dillinger Escape Plan in August but my friend who likes them had to work both nights. I figured I’d see them next time. Then they announced they were going on “hiatus,” seemingly permanently, and I thought, for the nth time, “Once again I have failed to see a band I liked before they broke up. Read More

Live in Cook County Jail (1971) by BB King

Categories: 1971 and Music.

Clearly inspired by the seminal Johnny Cash prison albums, this record finds BB and his band performing for a local county prison (so it’s not quite going to a max security place). I like this better than Live at the Regal, but I don’t know whether that’s because of the atmosphere or because of the performances, which feel rawer to me. The whole thing is much more in line with what I was expecting from a blues live album, though BB is still a little too professional for my tastes. 8/10 Read More

Live at the Regal (1965) by BB King

Categories: 1965 and Music.

This record is often thought of as the pinnacle of BB King live records, as far as I know, the record that influenced an absolute ton of guitar players and cemented his reputation as sort of the ambassador for the blues. It’s a little too polished and urbane for me, frankly. I prefer a rougher-edged version of the blues, especially live. And though I understand the appeal (especially the crossover appeal) of something like this, I’m kind of surprised of how…well, what the opposite of gritty, it is. King is a phenomenal player, and obviously hugely influential, not just on Read More

The Tragically Hip Live at the K-Rock Centre, August 20, 2016

Categories: 2016, Music, Religion, and Society.

I wasn’t going to watch this show. The cynic in me found the sudden outpouring of interest in The Hip weird. I felt like people I’d never heard mention this band previously were now obsessed with getting tickets to shows, all because someone (Canadian) famous is dying of cancer. Instead, I was going to watch the Olympics like I had been doing all day. I don’t know how I was going to watch the Olympics – I don’t have cable and only get CBC – but I was going to watch them. I wasn’t going to let CBC preempt my Read More

A Little Too Cozy Live at Studio 42 at the CBC May 20, 2016

Categories: 1790s, 2016, and Music.

On Friday we saw a modernization of Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, an opera I have never heard before. This adaptation sets the opera in a reality show where contestants are supposed to pledge their love to each other without actually meeting, similar to the original plot I assume. This is a bawdy one – I’m not sure if the original is this way – but it mostly works. Occasionally some of the jokes (whether blue or cultural reference-based) feel a little cheap, but mostly it’s consistently amusing. The one issue I had with the whole thing is that the TV Read More

The Bad Plus Joshua Redman Live at the Wintergarden Theatre, Toronto, Occtober 15, 2015

Categories: 2015 and Music.

The last time I saw the Bad Plus they blew me away. But with Joshua Redman they are significantly more jazzy. Far more within the tradition than I was expecting. It’s not that their old music wasn’t within the tradition – jazz musicians have been covering non-jazz songs since jazz began – but their older, rockier music was decidedly difficult to pin down, even if it was, at times, more accessible than much contemporary jazz. With Redman, they are far, far more of a conventional jazz group than they used to be. I don’t mean that in a bad way Read More

Godspeed You! Black Emperor Live at the Danforth Music Hall, Friday September 25, 2015

Categories: 2015.

This was my second time seeing GY!BE in Toronto. The first time I had a terrible angle but was rather close to the stage (at Lee’s Palace). This time I had pretty great seats but they were quite far from the stage. I guess it was the proximity, but this time the experience was a lot less visceral. It’s a show like this where I understand why people want to be up front, even if that’s actually bad for their physical health (ears and who knows what else). I still felt like I should have put my earplugs in a Read More

Weasels Ripped my Flesh (1970) by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention

Categories: 1970 and Music.

Zappa takes his musique concrete collage obsession and applies it to a live album. It’s nowhere near as radical as the Mothers’ records at their apex – as this is mostly a collage of songs, rather than song fragments, jokes and the like – but it’s still hard to recall another live album of this (or any) era that is this deliberately constructed, and where the construction is visible on its sleeve. Though I have yet to fully familiarize myself with Zappa’s post Mothers discography (beyond his biggest “hits”), this has to be one of the last times Zappa was Read More

The 2015 Wolfe Island Music Festival August 7-8, 2015

Categories: 2015 and Music.

The annual pilgrimage to WIMF got off to a bit of an uneven start but ended up being one of the better festivals I have attended over the last half decade or so. On Friday night, we arrived to catch the end of Daniel Romano’s rather sedate country set. Romano had been to WIMF a few years earlier, but I missed him. This time he was on the Main Stage. It was pleasant music but nothing that made me want to go out and by a record. Romano was followed by Elliott Brood, a band I saw 3(?) years ago, Read More

Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires Live at Nathan Phillip’s Square, July 21, 2015

Categories: 2015 and Music.

I came to James Brown – and soul, funk and so forth – rather late in life, compared to most other genres I have an interest in. And, regardless, I would have never been able to see the Godfather in his prime, had I even wanted to. But I think Charles Bradley probably gave me the closest taste I am going to get. Bradley’s band is a hilarious group of young, almost entirely white, hipsters who play ‘60s Stax-style soul, and ‘60s funk. Bradley himself does a bit of a James Brown thing, with his own spin, but you could Read More

Winterland [Highlights] (2011) by the Jimi Hendrix Experience

Categories: 2011 and Music.

This is the “highlights” disc taken from the Box Set documenting 3 Experience shows at the Winterland in October of 1968.It begins with a performance of “Fire” that is highlighted by a series of crazy drum fills by Mitchell that substitute as a drum solo.“Foxey Lady” follows, with its introductory feedback drawn out twice as long. Otherwise it’s not anything special, some hilarious dialogue before nad in it. Just like any show (it seems) Hendrix’s amps keep breaking.Perhaps the hilghlight of the entire disc is their take on Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.” Hendrix was always a great interpretive artists, Read More

Miami Pop Festival (2013) by the Jimi Hendrix Experience

Categories: 2013 and Music.

This is an Experiene concert from the 1968 Miami Pop Festival (obviously) containing remarkably little music from either Axis or Ladyland (which they had already begun recording). Actually I don’t think there’s a single song. It’s a strong set and it shows off the Experience as a great live band, which is something we don’t always think of them as (or at least I don’t).The opening version of “Hey Joe” is considerably looser than any I’ve heard before, opening with more than a minute of feedback and definitely showing signs that the band is getting tired of playing this song.The Read More

Live at Leeds (1970) by the Who

Categories: 1970 and Music.

Is this the greatest live album of all time? I never used to care about live albums. I never used to care about live music. Music used to live in my bedroom and I had no idea that there was some other side to it. Frankly I didn’t understand why people went to concerts. The idea that a band could be better on stage than in the studio seemed totally insane to me. Totally unfathomable. I was forced to confront that idea when I went away to university and seeing (not very famous) bands became a standard thing: a couple Read More

Symphonies Nos. 104, 88, 101 by Joseph Haydn (2011) performed by Philharmonia Baroque conducted by Nicholas McGegan

Categories: 2011 and Music.

The so-called “London” symphony starts off with such a modern opening I almost thought I was listening to the wrong work – it’s practically Romantic. But the music soon settles in to what we would expect. Still, as first experiences with “The Father of the Symphony” go, it was quite shocking. Otherwise I guess it’s just a “High Classical” symphony, albeit a stellar example of that, but that intro is something special. The 88th symphony is exactly what I was expecting from a Classical era symphony. I guess that’s both a good thing and a bad thing. I’m sure it’s Read More

Talking Heads at the Capitol Theatre November 4, 1980

Categories: 1980 and Music.

This is an incredible show which is very illustrative of the the “eras” bands go through. The band in Stop Making Sense is a great band, but they are utter professionals. They are having a great time, and they backed by a unique stage show that ads to the experience, but they are polished and utterly professional. They have done this before. The band in this performance is still hungry, even though they were already very established by this point. They are rawer, but more importantly, they are weirder. So many of the songs are radically different from the originals so Read More

Stop Making Sense (1984) by Talking Heads

Categories: 1984 and Music.

I love the film. I got a copy of it not that long after I saw it (in a theatre! though with only about 6 people in it) and it’s become one of only  a few staple rock concert films I have. But half the appeal of this movie is that it’s a movie. The Heads’ show is unique and is literally half the fun. Divorced from the film the performances are alright, but most Heads fans agree that the earlier official live album is better. And I can personally attest that there are better performances available on Youtube. This Read More

Swiss Movement (1969) by Les McCann, Eddie Harris

Categories: 1969 and Music.

The myth-making goes to hilarious extremes in the liner notes – with the writer denying the band had ever played together before this date before then detailing how they played together before the date – but that’s something that’s quite common to jazz (and to music in general) and this band still sounds fantastic for a band that hadn’t rehearsed much (and which was tackling a song they just learned that day). McCann’s band brings the soul jazz and Harris (and Bailey, to a less extent) bring the modern sensibility. This is a strong record because the marriage of two Read More

Jim Hall and Pat Metheny (1999)

Categories: 1999 and Music.

I am not a fan of Metheny, though I’ve never really given him a chance beyond his debut. But I like Hall, now that I know him. And the two fit really well. Someone made a point about how the improvisations sound as “organized” as the standards and originals, and its kind of true. And that’s very impressive. And I like that Metheny keeps switching up his instrument so it keeps things from getting too monotonous, but they do anyway. That’s the one criticism: despite their clearly distinct styles, the whole thing manages to sound rather blah over the course Read More

Live! (1976) by Jim Hall

Categories: 1976 and Music.

Jim Hall is an excellent guitarist. I had never heard him before, but he’s fantastic. And, on this date, he’s backed by a great band, again made up of two guys I don’t know. And they are excellent as well. And the whole thing is fantastic. But I can’t shake one feeling, and that is that this record was made in 1975 and this is absolutely, totally bop. (Well, if I’m being honest, I guess it’s post bop, but you get my meaning.) And it’s the mid seventies. And he’s doing his thing, and his thing is great, but it’s Read More

The Dancing Avocado (1969 Bootleg) by Led Zeppelin

Categories: 1969 and Music.

This is an entertaining early show that mostly works in my mind, save maybe the obligatory drum solo. 5 songs in an hour, which is ridiculous but (mostly) works. They are firing on all cylinders, even during Jones’ equipment trouble, when they just ad lib a jam thing (taking the track, which they never did in studio, to nearly 20 minutes). “Killing Floor” makes you wonder why they didn’t credit “The Lemon Song” to its composers when they are recorded it for the second album later in the year. But as someone else said, details details. Everything is well done Read More

Gladsaxe Teen Club, March 17, 1969 – aired on Danish TV (1969 TV program) by Led Zeppelin

Categories: 1969 and Music.

This first ever TV appearance is pretty solid. The whole thing is pretty straigh ahead given, I would assume, they had to keep it short as this was a TV special. The audience is hilariously uninvolved. There are much better later shows, but it’s fun to see the band at a really early stage of their career (this occurred prior to the release of the debut). The orgasm bit is funny. 7/10 Read More

TV on the Radio Live at the Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto November 12, 2014

Categories: 2014 and Music.

Natasha Kmeto was the opener. A singer with a laptop and a small keyboard, she initially appeared to actually be more of a DJ, but that turned out to be just an extended intro to her first song. She piled various different beats and loops on top of each other, with the odd melody line thrown in, either from a sample or her keyboard, and then sang very basic lyrics about relationships over top. Sometimes she just noodled instead. This kind of stuff does literally nothing for me: I can’t imagine listening to it on my own and in a Read More

Don’t Mess with Texas (1969?, 1991 Bootleg) by Led Zeppelin

Categories: 1969 and Music.

This is a pretty strong but very early show featuring excellent versions of material from the debut, including a medley, and a couple covers as well (though obviously some of the “originals” are also covers…). Speaking of the medley, the (very brief) version of “Susie Q” is particularly bizarre (in a good way). Everyone is one their game and the show is generally quite good. It’s a festival slot apparently, so it’s not like they play forever, but that brevity actually serves them well, as there is no insanely long and unnecessary Bonham solo, for example. 8/10 Read More

Mudslide (1971, 1991 Bootleg) by Led Zeppelin

Categories: 1971 and Music.

This is a pretty strong show – notable for particularly great performances of material from the second album, especially “Thank You”, which can be wussy – but, as someone who has listened to relatively few Zep shows, it’s clear to me that the band improved with time, like a fine wine really. And I find myself generally preferring later, crazier, shows. This is all very professional, and the performance of “Thank You” might be the definitive version, but there are better versions of “Since I’ve Been Loving You” and other material out there. Still well worth listening to, though. 7/10 Read More

Listen to this, Eddie (1977 Bootleg) by Led Zeppelin

Categories: 1977 and Music.

Now this is a show. I would highly recommend this to anyone who thinks The Song Remains the Same is Zeppelin at their best. Here they are ragged, loose, powerful and full of a ridiculous amount of stamina. This is one of those nights, I guess, when a great band just didn’t want to stop playing. Everything about Zeppelin is here: the loud, pummeling and frenetic rock music, the super indulgent solos from Jones, Page and Bonham, and the general dance-ability of most of it. There’s also an acoustic set, which I believe is rare for this period of their Read More