Tue, Oct 30
KELLY CLARKSON at Massey Hall Rating: NNNN
While we've all been busy wondering when Britney's vagina is gonna make another high-profile appearance, Kelly Clarkson's been keeping a low profile since cancelling a stadium tour and having a spat with her record company. Seems she's been channelling her energy into an outstanding live show that shines with confidence and charisma. Other pop tarts would do well to make a few notes.
Connecting instantly with the sold-out, hugely diverse audience, Clarkson and her stellar band took nothing for granted as they went through a gracious list of highlights like Breakaway, Behind These Hazel Eyes and Be Still. And she showed off her startlingly impressive pipes by covering Patty Griffin.
With a sand-tickled voice, Clarkson kept her preteen onlookers squealing and shrieking. She even made a reference to Steve Carell's chest-waxing name-drop in the 40-Year-Old Virgin via a jack-o'-lantern made in his likeness, and capped off the night with a rousing finale of Since U Been Gone.
If she keeps up like this, it won't be long before we're queuing up to see her at the ACC.
Thu, Nov 1
THE GO! TEAM at The Phoenix Rating: NNN
Umm...When did the Go! Team start sounding like Puffy Amiyumi? Not that Puffy Amiyumi's a bad band to emulate, but the Go! Team's live show was so poppy, it felt like being stuck in a strange anime cartoon.
It didn't help that the horn parts, which figured prominently in the band's set, were played off a backing track, or that sometimes vocalist Chi "Ky" Fukami Taylor "sounded" like she was lip synching.
Luckily, the band's frantic energy made up for these curious moments, and a great mix of songs from their two albums, including the recently released Proof Of Youth, made for a pretty interesting night.
Sat, Nov 3
BICYCLES/MORE OR LES/REPUBLIC OF SAFETY/OHBIJOU! at North York Library Rating: NNNN
The orchestral pop creations of Bicycles, providing a smooth joyride to some whimsical, happy place, warmed up the audience perfectly for this eclectic showcase.
The excellent room acoustics showed off the spontaneity of More or Les, Kilgore and the beautiful DJ Killa-Jewel, who provided the high-energy highlight of the night. Les comically ate a mouthful of takeout to emphasize his song Eat Your Food!, Kilgore added perfect, live MPC percussion, and Montreal's Killa-Jewel - whose DJ-Dibbs-worthy turntable-murdering had everyone in a frenzy -absolutely stole the show with his cut clinic. Les performed his impressive Herbaliser collaboration. It was all uncut dope, and the 200 or so attendees enjoyed it all.
Republic of Safety's heady, five-piece punk rock outfit shifted the energy, but the raw-throated lead singer Maggie MacDonald's intricate power anthems were engaging, as were her obscure asides. The Roaches Will Not Survive slayed with its boombastic double kicks and Golden Gate-sized bridges on which the gifted guitarist and bassist thrashed in unison.
Finally, Ohbijou decreased the intensity tenfold, but the delicate balance of their Feist-on-steroids vibe shined through. The diversified eight-instrument collective's airy expressions brought a gentle end to a pleasing evening.
Mon, Nov 5
KOOP at the Mod Club Rating: NNN
Since recent publicity shots of Swedish jazz-tronic duo Magnus Zingmark and Oscar Simonsson showed them dressed like cabaret divas, there was no telling what to expect for Koop's first cross-pond jaunt in years.
Evidently, Toronto has a strong Koop cult, and bodies filled the perpetually under-lit Mod Club by the time Zingmark, Simonsson and crew took the stage to the sounds of crowing seagulls and crashing waves. The beach effects serve to reinforce their recent island sound fascination, an aesthetic they explore meticulously on new album Koop Islands.
But the Sprockets-looking Swedes administering the show behind a Macbook and keyboards weren't the star attractions. The transfixing stage presence of sultry Norwegian vocalist Hilde Louise Asbjørnsen stole the show. Her smoky, note-perfect rendition of Strangelove was so close to the record, we wondered if she was pulling a Britney.
Almost outshining her were Koop's blazing jazz-pop backup players, double-bassist Martin Höper and drummer Ola Hultgren. In fact, everyone was exciting to watch except Kraftwerkian Koop, who probably hole up at the stage's rear for a reason.