Fri, Nov 23
SWELL SEASON AND MARY MARGARET O'HARA at the Danforth Music Hall Rating: NNNN
Pity that while Mary Margaret O'Hara was onstage blissfully strutting around like Jennifer Coolidge-meets-Elvis at an Edith Piaf convention, half the audience was too busy getting up to order herbal teas to actually notice how breathtaking her voice is. Their loss.
Come time for Ireland's sleepy-time pretty explosion Swell Season , everyone was able to shut up just fine and bask in the band's mix of charmingly melancholic acoustic-based cooing and violin and piano accompaniment. Lead singer Glen Hansard padded the show with some funny storytelling between songs, while Markéta Irglová 's delicate voice added to the night's quiet charm.
THE STILLS at Lee's Palace Rating: NNNN
When these fine young cannibals took the stage shortly after Sebastien Granger 's funk-sprinkled finale, they received instant appreciation from the shoulder-to-shoulder Lee's Palace crowd. A long, droning Middle Eastern chant filled the air as the confident five-piece latched on to a thumping kick drum foundation for their first selection. From there the experience went from respectably good to absolutely great.
Sat, Nov 24
BOOT CAMP CLIK at the Opera House Rating: NNN
After JD Era and turntable murderer DJ TLO set the stage for Boot Camp Clik and co., an unannounced set by Promise Da Apostle surprised the almost full Opera House . Promise's super-sharp, conscious a cappellas found some open ears, and the Screwface haters who were chanting "BCC! " into Promise's set were later shocked silent when Steele announced Promise as the newest signee to BCC's label, Duck Down Records.
This was a much better show than BCC's Phoenix appearance: better organization, better mic control, better self-awareness. Tek and Steele, who have almost earned new-millennium EPMD status, rocked their greatest hits, including Hellucination, and only a few new tunes. Next, Sean Price enthralled everyone with his thug comedy rap, and veteran Buckshot Shorty offered some timeless gems. OGC repped, too, but the border bullies held back Rockness Monster, who was sorely missed on Fab 5.
Mon, Nov 26
NEIL YOUNG with PEGI YOUNG at Massey Hall Rating: NNN
When you entered the front doors of Massey Hall for the return of Canuck icon Neil Young , the strangely cluttered Chrome Dreams II tour set-up was a startling sight. It was like Young had loaded the contents of his storage barn onto a flatbed and then dumped the whole shebang - klieg lights, folding chairs, pipe organ, upright piano, vibraphone, painting easels, stretched canvases, various battered and boxed gizmos, amps, microphones, cables, a red telephone, wooden tobacco store chief and all - onto the historic Massey Hall stage.
After a wickedly dull 45-minute set from partner Pegi Young , Neil appeared by himself, to sighs of relief, and took a seat in the middle of an acoustic guitar circle. Many people came not to listen but to worship or try to engage in a dialogue as hosers scattered throughout the capacity crowd felt compelled to shout welcomes, well wishes and entirely pointless whoops, which Young admirably ignored.
Young strummed through tunes from a "pre-selected" list in an attempt to prevent shouted requests between songs. Of course it didn't work. The bullheaded patron hollering as loud as he could for After The Gold Rush as the final note of each song decayed just wanted his chosen number performed on demand, just like those screaming for Powderfinger, Helpless and Hey Hey, My My. But they were all out of luck.
As expected, the solo acoustic set included Ambulance Blues, A Man Needs A Maid and Journey Through The Past, while the full-band blast featured The Loner, Winterlong, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and Cinnamon Girl. A tedious guitar wank through No Hidden Path pushed the show past the 11 pm deadline, so the encore was an edited version of Like A Hurricane - but he made up for it by stretching out the coda for a good five minutes.