Thu, Jun 19
AL GREEN at the Sony Centre Rating: NN
Any decent performer can entertain a crowd for 60 minutes, but it takes a skilled showman with a grifter’s genius to draw wild cheers from a paying audience for singing just small fragments of well-known songs. In fact, it’s not entirely clear whether Al Green even remembers all the lyrics to his best-loved tunes.
That doesn’t matter when you can create the impression of performing songs by employing a bit of simple misdirection. Just seed the crowd with the first couple of notes and then stand back to let everyone sing a verse and chorus. It worked so well, Green did the same with the songs of the Four Tops, Temptations, Sam Cooke and Otis Redding. Alternately, he encouraged the audience to clap along while the band vamped for eight or more bars, and also called for extended solos from the band and backing vocalists.
Also reducing the notes sung were his frequent mid-song digressions into anecdotes about touring, vague shout-outs to the crowd and the usual showbiz platitudes about loving the audience and the city.
Believe it or not, the crafty clock manager completed his hour-long performance without having to sing all the way through a single song. He grabbed his black leather flight bag and left the stage sans encore to rousing applause. To his credit, Green actually had some folks believing they’d got their money’s worth.
Fri, Jun 20
IVANA SANTILLI at Revival Rating: NNN
It’s been well over a decade since Funkmobile and I Cry helped Ivana Santilli’s old band Bass Is Base make the pop charts. Since then, she’s been writing and recording as a solo artist and living abroad, plotting her return to top-40 success. Now, hot off the release of her third solo record, TO.NY, Santilli is poised to reclaim her fame.
During her crisp-sounding set at Revival, she thanked both her new “production” team, Adam Messinger and Nasri (the local songwriting duo behind recent tracks by, gulp, the New Kids on the Block and Michael Bolton – seriously, I’m not kidding) and Mix 99.9 for recently adding her first single, Whateva U Want. Decked out in über-fashionable duds, Santilli proved she still has powerful pipes on the upbeat Been Thru This, which sounds like an 80s Michael Jackson track, but failed to carry that winning energy into some of her more laid-back music.
DETHKLOK at Kool Haus Rating: NNNN
While the scene outside the venue consisted of a few boozed-up metal doofuses on the verge of losing their shit by just talking about how amazing the show was gonna be, one thing was certain about the TV cartoon death metal band’s very real performance: it was exactly what you expected it to be.
Massive projections of the band and various other cartoonishly violent images played on big screens while series creator Brendon Small fronted the unassuming, technically flawless band.
Although the sound was frustratingly muddy at times, the band killed with songs like Murmaider, Briefcase Full Of Guts and Awaken. It was short and sweet, but it certainly didn’t look like anyone was disappointed. Most real bands don’t get the kind of applause they did.
Sun, Jun 22
50 CENT and LLOYD BANKS at Circa Rating: NN
The title of 50 Cent’s next solo album is even more prescient than his legendary debut achievement: Before I Self-Destruct describes 2008 Curtis Jackson perfectly, and his anti-climactic performance for the swollen Circa crowd encapsulated exactly why he’s falling from grace.
Delusions of grandeur and paranoid insecurity permeated his stage banter, which included the insane proclamation that ally/label boss Eminem is the “biggest MC in rap right now.” And Fiddy is second. Despite throwing everything at ’em – What Up Gangsta, In The Club, Magic Stick, 21 Questions and others – Fiddy couldn’t connect with the Screwface Capital, which greeted him with that trademark Toronto nonchalance. Even clowning Lupe Fiasco’s hit Superstar didn’t get a rise out of the crowd. When dynamite beef-sparker Piggy Bank instantly fizzled, 50 Cent taunted the crowd and blamed everyone but himself for the failure. Hopefully, he noticed that the best moment of the night was when Lloyd Banks started the Bob Marley singalong.