Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan in Toronto – A Review

October 24, 2010 at 8:40 pm (Uncategorized)

I trudged down to Lee’s Palace on Wednesday night with fairly low expectations for this show. I was never a fan of Belle and Sebastian, and had only a passing interest in Screaming Trees. I bought Hawk on the strength of the reviews, and on a whim I bought a ticket for the show as well. However, when I listened to the record, I found I wasn’t exactly crazy about it. Not that I hated it, but it just didn’t really move me.

So, there I was.

Lee’s Palace is one of those strange venues. It holds about 500, but when it’s packed. it seems as if it’s twice the size. However, if it’s empty, the place seems like a cave. For a band on a mid-week show, it’s a risky proposition.

Willy Mason

The place was hardly a third full when opening act Willy Mason took the stage at about 9:20. And yet, something strange and wonderful happened. Within a song or two, Mason, singing alone, created a marvellous sense of intimacy. Even the chatter from the bar seems to add to the melancholy nature of his songs. After a half hour set, Mason left the stage to loud applause.

Ay 10:20, Isobel Campbell, dressed in white, took one side of the stage,  while Mark Lanegan, tall and decked out in black took the other side.

It’s an odd mix given the different musical backgrounds, and the result is a kind of psychedelic folk country-blues. At certain times the band leaned in one of those directions; at other times, another.  The band was largely silent to the audience until about the mid-way point, but then seemed to loosen up, and a momentum began to build too. Lanegan left the stage at one point to be replaced by Mason, who also sings on Hawk. When Lanegan returned, the band hit high gear. Unfortunately, I don’t know the names of most of the songs, but Campbell kept assuring the audience various songs were coming.

A blurry picture

The band played a generous 85 minute set following by a long encore for to an obviously adoring audience., and I’ll certainly admit, those songs sounded a lot better in concert.  Driving home after the show, Hawk sounded pretty good.

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