An amped Cadence Weapon showed he has what it takes to thrill indie rock fans at Lee’s Palace Thursday.
Tue, Oct 7
WIRE at Lee's Palace Rating: NNNNN
What an interesting night at Lee's. Earplugs were unnecessary, I.D. went largely unchecked (due to the crowd's generally advanced age) and there was no line for the women's washroom. Downstairs, British post-punk veterans Wire wore all-black outfits and Dad-style wire-rimmed glasses. Gracefully approaching 60, Wire's three original members - Colin Newman, Graham Lewis and Robert Grey (Margaret Fiedler McGinnis replaced Bruce Gilbert on guitar) - initially seemed stiff and uncertain, focusing more on their chords than on the full house and offering curt newer material.
Then, egged on by Lewis's declaration that Ottawa's crowd had been louder, the Lee's attendees raised their voices, danced harder, pogoed. In turn, the band got animated and mesmerizing, especially Newman, who tapped into his old moves - guitar-shaking, hypnotic hand gestures, impassioned shouting. A rendition of 12XU sealed the deal.
By the time Wire returned for their third encore - third! - they were as loose, dangerous and relevant as they must've been in 1979.
Thu, Oct 9
CADENCE WEAPON with WOODHANDS and STOP DIE RESUSCITATE at Lee's Palace Rating: NNNN
With two very important elections happening within the next three weeks, you can't blame the indie synth set performing at Lee's for getting a tad political. First up, local electro-rap threats Stop Die Resuscitate busted out some slamming new material, including their fevered closer Cash Advance Dance, a track about personal finance that's taken on extra meaning given the recent credit crunch.
Woodhands packed the dance floor in the half-full club and launched into Be Back Soon. It wasn't long before everyone started getting keytarded to Dan Werb's geeky-club synths and Paul Banwatt's lively upfront drumming. Highlights included Werb pausing for a "multicultural moment" while Banwatt soloed on a traditional Indian drum, a guest colab with Cadence Weapon, and an awesome, extended version of Dancer featuring original guest vocalist Maylee Todd (usually Banwatt sings her part live).
Taking the stage in front of a decent-sized crowd, Edmonton MC Cadence Weapon (aka Rollie Pemberton) was repping Democrat in his gold Obama T-shirt while ripping into his angry nerd rap. Referencing another show happening that night, Pemberton busted out some awesome self-conscious freestyle, rapping, "What do you do when you've seen Chromeo too much? You come to my show!" That said, songs like Oliver Square, Real Estate and new track Mad Graffiti had his clutch of indie rock fans jumping on command.
Sat, Oct 11
LUCINDA WILLIAMS at Massey Hall Rating: NNNN
If there's a female equivalent to Keith Richards, it might be country rock vixen Lucinda Williams. The Louisiana-born songwriter wears 30-plus years of music showbiz on her face. Not to say the still-fetching Williams physically displays rock's ravages quite the way Richards does (in that respect he's peerless), but the 55-year-old Williams, like Keith, emits a soulful aura that comes from a life dedicated to leaving it all onstage.
Williams treated a two-thirds full Massey to cuts from the just-dropped Little Honey in the softer first half of the show, with a sprinkling of favourites from Car Wheels On A Gravel Road. She then plugged in her Tele (also Keith's choice of axe) for the latter portion, playing more from Car Wheels (Joy, Changed The Locks) as well as a few World Without Tears tracks. The crowd grew so rapt, Williams was inspired to play a new song called Rarity, claiming it was only the third time she's performed it.
Wearing a peace sign around her neck, Williams spoke frequently about playing music through the hard times, then launched into a toned-down version of Buffalo Springfield's For What It's Worth. She ended the encore with a cover of AC/DC's It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock 'N' Roll), a song that fittingly sums up Williams's hard-knocks career.