June 24, 2009

And Coldplay makes me deliriously happy

If there’s any band out there that reminds people that music is an art form, it’s Coldplay, four British boys that never fail to knock all the socks off 16,000 people in an arena.

It should have come as no surprise to me, given the use of a famous Delacroix painting on the cover of last year’s stellar Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends and the painterly design of their promo, but I was pleasantly surprised and had perhaps forgotten the level of their artistry.

My face brimmed with a smile and my eyes nearly welled up the moment they bounced onstage with sparklers, behind a sheer black screen that then created a layered shadow show. I felt a bit like a Beatles fan overcome with emotion as my hands clasped my face but it wasn’t because it was Coldplay as much as because it was just incredibly beautiful. And that beauty would not cease the rest of the evening.

Continue reading And Coldplay makes me deliriously happy »

June 18, 2009

Toronto’s Gentleman Reg gives me dancing feet

Gentleman Reg by blurasis on Flickr
Photo by blurasis via Flickr at the band’s Ottawa show, April 22nd, 2009

Last Wednesday night saw the return of Toronto-based 5-piece Gentleman Reg, barely a month after their previous Vancouver date at the Commodore. This time, touring more suitably with A Camp (the last tour was with The Stills), they brought their infectious pop to the ill-fated Richard’s on Richards. I had expected a crowd even more keen on dancing than the passionate group at last month’s show, simply because of the difference in the headliners’ genres (A Camp, I expected, would draw a different crowd with music considerably more “dancy” than The Stills). I wound up disappointed with the lack of dancing, although the two girls in the front near me were rocking out pretty hard. (Frontman Reg Vermue enjoyed that so I tried to be less self-conscious about my own moves.)

The set included a stirring cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” that showcased guitarist François’s talent. They ended the evening with the catchy, sing- or clap-along “Boyfriend Song” for which Reg put away his gorgeous black guitar to tap out the beat with a tambourine. If you’re not bouncing to that one, there’s something wrong with you.

Continue reading Toronto’s Gentleman Reg gives me dancing feet »

November 2, 2008

Those Finns sure rock!

I’ve been to many a great concert, and I’m considering ranking this one the best EVER. And it has nothing to do with theatrics like lasers or massive yellow balloons or even hi-tech video screens. In fact, the show had none of the above… but I didn’t even notice their absence. The lighting component was elegantly simple and effective. Between the white lights and grey and black set, predominantly black clothing and greyscale backdrop, the scene would have been almost devoid of colour were it not for the musicians’ elegant cellos and some deliciously bright blonde hair. No, this time it was their impressive musicianship and unique style if not genre unto itself that made the concert so exceptional and captivating.

I am speaking, of course, of Finnish band Apocalyptica, who returned last Saturday night for a sold-out show at Vancouver’s historic Vogue Theatre.

Continue reading Those Finns sure rock! »

March 31, 2008

A night with the Foo Fighters

Last night we attended a sold-out rock show. The Foo Fighters blew the roof off the Pacific Coliseum for two hours for what frontman Dave Grohl dubbed “Vancouverpalooza” for the 3-band evening kicked off by two opening acts.

I’ve been to a lot of concerts now and this one was clearly one of the best. A great advantage was in having excellent seats — and as Dave pointed out, even the “cheap ticketsss” were a good deal as about halfway through the show a small, circular stage descended from the rafters to provide an intimate setting for a semi-acoustic set. It began with red lights and eight musicians spread out around the perimeter, facing the audience. A female violinist, in heels and an elegant black dress, danced one way while a guest guitarist danced another. A guest pianist switched to an accordion at one point from the keyboards. It was magical, like a theatrical performance.

Continue reading A night with the Foo Fighters »

August 28, 2006

when it feels unreal

TOOL, GM Place, August 22, 2006

18,000 warm, anticipating bodies

formed a snake around the building

friends in the wrong line up met with friends

who met with friends long lost to other relationships

an introduction to the breath-consuming sourness

of another’s disregard

feeling violated after the innocent perpetrator (just doing her job)

confirmed i was harmless

excited, searching every which way

for other friends long lost to busy lives, for now

we would not know tonight how isis sounds

as we zig-zagged through swarms, a dotted mess

a man with one right number found himself

with one wrong number, rightly mine

the seats were there to tell us where to stand

as the band embraced our ears and chests

pseudo candles, smoke in green lasers

a white stage lit with moving images

a paper candle nearby sends smoke my way

my lungs incapacitated temporarily in distress

intermission brings a rest, four people seated while

18,000 throats go hoarse and twice that, hands numb

two hours in five minutes disappeared, and it’s over

we scream and exit in deafness

friends meet friends, and in cheering agree

the experience was more than worth what we spent

July 1, 2006

Tanya Tagaq

Performing today on Parliament Hill then a few dates across the country is Inuit artist and throat singer Tanya Tagaq. I came upon her delicately designed website from the CBC’s page about a collection of Canadian and Canada-related songs for the summer. She did a collaboration with Bjork on the song “Ancestors” which some of you may have heard.

I’ve never heard her music, though perhaps I’ll be fortunate enough to see her at the Folk Fest in Vancouver in a couple of weeks. I missed her on TV as the performances at Parliament Hill were in the early afternoon. Do look at her artwork on her website though (under pictures); her paintings are absolutely fabulous and breathtaking.

Throat singing was one of the unique methods we briefly “learned” in Choir 8 many years ago. Her bio says that her way, which is solo (the technique is traditionally done in pairs), is different and emotional, making an eclectic contribution to today’s experimental music. I hope you like it.

Happy Canada Day

This afternoon whilst confined to lying on the floor with my feet up so my swollen toes don’t fall off (if you didn’t catch my post about my bee sting), I turned on the TV and started flipping channels. There’s rarely anything good on at noon on a Saturday, but today is CANADA DAY (where’s my temporary tattoo???) and CBC Newsworld had a special documentary on called The Canadian Guitar.

The one-hour documentary includes interviews with various Canadians — stories of our heritage, our First Nations and our immigrants, and our families. The final masterpiece, debuted today for celebrations in Ottawa, features pieces of Canada’s story: the Golden Spruce of Haida Gwaii, Wayne Gretzky’s hockey stick, an old seat from Toronto’s Massey Hall, Trudeau’s canoe paddle, Winnipeg’s St. Boniface Museum, and Pier 21, among others. The luthier is Hungarian-Canadian George Rizsanyi, whose own history, too, contributed to the beautiful guitar.

The documentary airs again at 7 & 11pm ET today on CBC Newsworld. That’s 4 and 8pm PT on cable 26 for those in Greater Vancouver. I suggest you watch it — tape it, PVR it if you’re out celebrating tonight — and have a Happy Canada Day!

Here’s one more for ya, Canadian Mysteries. Old or ancient mysteries always seem more exciting than current ones, and people seemed to be more strange, like the man climbing mountains to the Yukon in 1931. Yes, indeed, folks… the Holy Grail is buried in CANADA.

June 17, 2006

finnish bluegrass

i’m always proud of my heritage.

check out this young Finnish bluegrass band from Helsinki, Rautakoura. click on Musiiki to download some great, happy music.

original post at boingboing.net with the link, posted by Cory Doctorow

May 28, 2006

everything is illuminated

independent films never get enough credit. the box office and hollywood and the media are so obsessed with stupid, disgusting american teenager/adult comedy, meaningless teen movies, meaningless repetitive action flicks and unintelligent dramas that they make room for few gems. lucky number s7evin was brilliant and i expect the da vinci code to be as well. but what about the little movies you rarely hear about? i waited for this one to come to theatres, then completely missed it somehow (if it even, in fact, played at all), and then waited for it to come out on DVD. everything is illuminated was more than just a film, it was an experience. (based on the book, by the way.) it was funny, romantic, endearing, tragic, witty, bizarre, and beautiful. elijah wood plays jonathan, a collector. i finally realised my attachment to things when i finally leave them (moving out, etc.): alex, as jonathan bags a cricket: “why do you do this?” jonathan: “sometimes i’m afraid i’ll forget.”

after you’ve watched the trailer (linked above), if you like the song at the end, find it. it’s called How It Ends and is by DeVotchKa.