PJ Harvey Shakes Massey Hall.

April 29, 2017 at 7:58 pm (Uncategorized)

Tell you my name F U C K

How long have I waited to see PJ Harvey? Well, quite some time. I’ve almost all of her albums, and it can be a harrowing experience. I remember driving around the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton with a friend and  put on 4 Track Demos. We got through 2 or 3 songs, before she made me take it off.

But before I start, I have to confess to mixed feelings. PJ Harvey was brilliant. Just brilliant, but…I really like Massey Hall as a venue. The sound is good, the view is good. It’s big, but it doesn’t feel as if you’re in a giant box like, say, the  Sound Academy or whatever it’s called now does. . But, I was pretty unhappy with the seats . We were further away from the stage than I anticipated, and the while we could see Ms. Harvey, stage left was hidden from us. Second, the seats were tiny. I’m tall, but not that tall. When I say down, my knees were jammed up against the seat in front of me, and that was the way it remained for the rest of the evening, except when we got far enough into the set that everyone stood.

So then.  A little after 8:30, PJ and her band took to the stage. And a band it was;  maybe 10 people besides Ms. Harvey although given the view it was hard to tell (Shut up about it already – Ed.) During the eighty minute set, Harvey tore through most of her latest album The Hope 6 Demolition Project along with tracks from most of her other records including fantastic versions of “To Bring you by Love and “Down by the Water.” (Nothing from Dry though – I would have loved to heard “Sheela Na Gig”). Silent between songs until near the end of the set, Harvey stalked the stage during, alternating between singing and playing a honking sax. A two song encore, and we went home happy.

  1. Chain of Keys
  2. The Ministry of Defence
  3. The Community of Hope
  4. The Orange Monkey
  5. A Line in the Sand
  6. Let England Shake
  7. The Words that Maketh Murder
  8. The Glorious Land
  9. Medicinals
  10. When Under Ether
  11. Dollar, Dollar
  12. The Devil
  13. The Wheel
  14. The Ministry of Social Affairs
  15. 50 ft Queenie
  16.  To Bring you my Love
  17. River Anacostia

Encore

  1. Highway 61 Revisited
  2. The Last Living Rose

(from Setlist.fm )

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The Elections in France

April 23, 2017 at 1:29 pm (Uncategorized)

I’m going to give up predicting elections. I thought Rob Ford would lose the mayoralty election in Toronto. He won. I expected Kathleen Wynn would lose to the Conservatives in Ontario; she won a majority. I thought Justin Trudeau might get a minority in the Canadian federal election; he won one of the biggest majorities in Canadian history. And Trump…well you know how that turned out.

So, I’m not going to hazard a guess about today’s presidential election in France. Jean-Luc Melachon, who is everywhere described as a “far-left” candidate is a former member of Pierre Lambert’s Trotskyist  OCI (the group which distinguished itself by deliberately not being involved in the events of 1968) has been touted as the leading candidate, but who knows. And then there’s Marine Le Pen is a supposedly reformed fascist from the Fronte Nationale, which has cleaned up its act for public consumption (expelling daddy, and pushing some of the worse stuff to the backroom meetings, but come on…).  Given the attacks this week (and let’s not even bother with the false flag crowd), it will be interesting to see how the rest of the pack divides if, as expected,  Le Pen and Melachon emerge as the run-off candidates. (the rest of the pack includes liberals and conservatives, LaRouchites, leftists and Lutte Ouvrier)

May you live in interesting times.

 

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Sallie Ford at the Horseshoe

April 23, 2017 at 1:14 pm (Uncategorized)

Started this draft a week or so back, btu better late than never.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again, the Horseshoe Tavern one of the best places to see live music in Toronto. It holds a couple of hundred people, and there’s a really intimate atmosphere. Great sound, great sight-lines. Great selection of bands. I’ve seen Link Wray, the Heartless Bastards, Urge Overkill, the Mekons, the Waco Brothers, the Avengers, Jah Wobble, Son Volt, the Fleshtones and many more. What’s not to love? That said, a Sunday night is not the most conducive to large crowds.

Got to the venue shortly after nine, and opening act Molly Burch was already on stage. Originally from Los Angeles, Burch now lives in Austin, Texas. She has a sort of Mazzy Star shoegazer vibe, and  it created a sweet atmosphere. As the set wore on, we were drawn into a warm, intimate moment. After the set was over, I wandered over to the merch table to see if they had the new Sallie Ford record, and found myself talking to Burch. Bought a CD. It’s hard to say if Burch will be a success or one of those artists you never hear from again (success is often less due to talent than other factors), but the record sounded great.

I saw Sallie Ford open for Tha0 and the Get Down Stay Down at Lee’s a few years back. I thought Thao was great, but in all honesty, it was Ford’s barnstorming set that caught my attention. Ford played a blistering rock revivalism which bridged a variety of styles without being cornered by any of them. The Horseshoe gig was the same, but sadly only 80 or so turned up to hear it. (Still, it meant I could stand in front of the stage and not be crowded – so good for me). Ford played a smashing set of material from her excellent new album Soul Sick, as well as material from her older record with the Sound Outside, and even threw in a cover of Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me. ”

Next time, don’t miss it.

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Toronto Anarchist Bookfair

April 20, 2017 at 11:56 pm (Uncategorized)

Unfortunately there will be no Toronto anarchist bookfair this year. The committee which has organized the event over the last several years isn’t in a position to do it this time. That doesn’t mean no one will organize an event, but at this point, it’s not happening. More if I hear otherwise.

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Montreal Anarchist Bookfair

April 3, 2017 at 1:43 am (Uncategorized)

Don’t forget you have one final day to register for tables at this year’s Montreal Anarchist Bookfair. 

This year’s bookfair takes place on May 27th and 28th.

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English Tapas: The Sleafrod Mods at the Opera House (Toronto)

April 3, 2017 at 1:28 am (Uncategorized)

In the interests of journalistic integrity, I should mention I had been waiting for this show for a long time, and was more than a little concerned that it wouldn’t match my expectations. Thus, my impartiality is completely ruined by, as they say, a pre-existing condition.

I’d come across a review of the Sleaford Mods in Mojo or somewhere and picked up a copy of the singles compilation Chubbed Up + a while back. A couple of things strike even the causal listener: The ferocity and sincerely of Jason Williamson’s delivery, the instantly catchy minimalism of the beats, and boy, that’s a fuck of a lot of swear words. No radio play for these two. When they announced a North American tour, it was something you had to see.

My habit of being late for bands has evolved to checking  Twitter obsessively for set times in order to spend the minimum amount of time standing, and to avoid mediocre opening bands. The opener for the show was Not Of, described on their Bandcamp page as “a noise rock duo,” and after listening to a couple of their songs from their album decided I would go early and have a listen. Not Of’s sound has a lot in common with METZ, but with fewer members and just drums and guitar. It was evident quickly that I’d made the right choice. Not Of delivered a fearsome wall of voice, and apart from the slower songs  which just didn’t do it for me, had me nodding along . And free stickers too.

The Sleaford Mods show was originally scheduled to be at Lee’s Palace, but for some reason unknown to me was moved to the Opera House. The Opera House is a little bigger than Lee’s, and there’s more room on the stage. True, it’s a a little sweatier, but the sight lines are still good, and the sound is clean, So, as much as I love Lee’s, it was no big deal; I’ve seen a lot of great shows there (Mercury Rev and the Fall on separate occasions stand out )

But it is a bigger stage than Lees and given the nature of their stage show, you might wonder if the Mods could fill it. After all, duos are  funny things. Fewer members sometimes means a more efficient, streamlined band, so what to make of Sleaford Mods? Two guys, one who brings a lap top and spends the set chill dancing, and the other who bounces around stage like a possessed Max Wall (that’s meant as a compliment) spitting words at the audience as if his life depended upon it. You’d be wrong if you were worried. These two guys  produced a layered, engaging sound that hooked the audience from the first seconds on the stage. .

The new album English Tapas has garnered impressive reviews, with critics noting a richer sound moving away from the mimimalist electronica of earlier works towards more structured, but no less effective, songs. You might wonder if that would translate to the live show, and it does. Listening to the CD in the car on the way home, I was struck by this evolving sound, but also by how well it was reproduced in the live act. The band played a large chunk of new material as well as favourite “Jolly Fucker”, “TRC,”  “Tweet Tweet Tweet,” and “Tied up in Nottz”

Check out the band’s Twitter feed for fan pictures of the show, but honestly, nothing beat being there.

 

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