Fri, Jan 18
DE LA SOUL at the Sound Academy Rating: NNN
“It’s our 20th year as De La Soul!” screamed DJ Maseo, the party-rockin’ disc jockey of Long Island’s finest. His energy ignited the show instantaneously before midnight, when Posdnuos and a jetlagged Trugoy took the stage.
A Bob James/Nautilus-inspired nostalgic singalong followed soul-stirring show starter The Future before Potholes In My Lawn was dusted off. Their exuberance remained consistent, even if they were a touch less energetic than at last summer’s Wakestock appearance. Yet this time, De La surprised with album gems like Pease Porridge and Ego Trippin’, and the three working-class MCs operated like a well-oiled hiphop machine. New album in 2008, please and thank you.
BURNING HELL CD release party with TIMBER TIMBRE, WEIRD WEATHER, ENTIRE CITIES and the PEOPLE OF CANADA at the Studio Rating: NNN
Disappointment comes easily after someone as good as Timber Timbre plays his haunting, dark melodies and fingerpicked guitar licks and the aching sound of his xaphoon. I felt like I had to shake water out of my ears while Weird Weather waded through their set of slow-tempo alternative. Fortunately, Paul Weadick’s hard drumming kept Entire Cities from falling off the map into the muddiness of over-instrumentation.
By the time headliners the Burning Hell cheerfully took the stage, the hippied-out crowd was intoxicated to the point of celebratory dancing. But the problem with a BYOB studio party without security is that a group of middle-aged drunk men felt they could get away with taking a staggering girl home. It was a relief when the police showed up, but the Burning Hell were probably a little pissed that they interrupted their last song.
Sun, Jan 20
KEN REAUME with ABBEY and LADYBIRD at Sneaky Dee’s Rating: NNNN
A stronger, better lineup boosted attendance numbers for the 396th edition of music series Wavelength. It was obvious the bodies braving the frigid conditions were there to see local folk head Ken Reaume launch his delicately crafted fourth album, Four Horses (Pariah Songs).
Reaume strummed and plucked his way through a de-amplified batch of Iron-and-Wine-style acoustic numbers flanked by Anissa Hart (cello) and Mika Posen (violin), two familiar faces in the Friends of Bellwoods/Ohbijou scene. Ex-Blinker the Star frontman Jordon Zadorozny is what you might call a pro in the biz. His newest band, Abbey, a harmonically powerful rock unit led by singer Sofia Silva, sounded polished and rehearsed but looked as though they hadn’t spent much time together playing live.
Mon, Jan 21
MARS VOLTA at the Phoenix Rating: NNN
When news hit that a sick Cedric Bixler Zavala had cancelled Mars Volta’s Rhode Island date, the show prior to Toronto, fans still seething from Zavala’s no-show at last year’s Chili Peppers concert were white-knuckling their tickets, hoping the prog prima donna wouldn’t bail again on this icy city.
One can only image the rush of male youth excitement those überfans felt when MV rolled tape on their Ennio Morricone intro, signalling the stage arrival of Zavala and partner Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, who speedily launched into Roulette Dares (The Haunt Of), the most At the Drive In-sounding track in the Volta vault.
From there the show was a steady-flowing river of nonsensical high-falsetto vocals, Santana-on-meth guitar solos and the heady, discombobulated drumming of Thomas Armon Pridgen. By the two-hour mark, their unabated prog excess began dividing the cultish from the curious. Only those with the highest-octane ganja were still head-bobbing through a jam-weave of titles.
OZZY OSBOURNE at the Air Canada Centre Rating: NNNN
He may be in the autumn of his infamously sordid life, but should we really expect any less at an Ozzy show than a high-powered cream hose designed to soak the first 20 rows, a flaming metal crucifix ominously suspended in midair and gratuitous big-screen projections of female fans flashing their boobs? Hell, no. An arena-ful of frothy-mouthed fans still believe that the Blizzard is the undisputed Prince of Darkness.
Ironically, though, an Ozzy show is still very much an ensemble performance, thanks to the barbarically powerful drumming of ex-Faith No More stick man Mike Bordin and guitarist Zakk Wylde, who is, simply put, a fucking monster on the axe. His shredding on Crazy Train, Suicide Solution and a weirdly hurried Paranoid made it clear that Wylde’s larger-than-life presence alongside Ozzy (not to mention the all-out twisted spectacle that was Rob Zombie’s opening gig) was what made the show worth it.