The thing about blogging is that, uh, at some point you probably ask yourself why you’re doing it. So at the end of 2011 I just dropped the whole idea. But here at the end of 2012 I’ve changed my mind. Kind of like anyone who decides to keep a diary.
Realized recently that we like to get out and see stuff. And sometimes it’s enlightening to consider what you’ve seen and maybe even write about in an effort to clarify what you thought about what you saw. So here’s a bit of a review of 2012 so far:
Soulpepper’s production of
Kim’s Convenience. Deservedly brought back for a second set of performances (and now I think they’ve decided to stage the production a third time). Very entertaining, and for anyone who feels Toronto never gets represented as Toronto - mostly a film/TV problem, I realize - an interesting take on a portion of our cultural reality.
Southside Johnny at Hugh’s Room. New Jersey’s other musical export next to Springsteen. Unfortunately the leader of the band was in something less than an entertaining mood and kept muttering about just not being able to do it anymore. Fun but other than the fact that he’s vaguely connected to Bruce, and it’s interesting to watch a group of pros fulfill their contractual obligations, not an inspired evening.
OSB trio plays a little fundraiser in Hamilton and get the sit-down audience singing along. Very gratifying.
Full band shows up at the Moonshine for Barry’s b/day gig but we get short-setted. A sign of things to come in 2012.
Kathleen Edwards plays the Phoenix on the 11th, in support of her new album Voyageur. A really great, intimate, wonderful showcase of her fantastic songwriting.
The full OSB squeezes itself into a tiny space at a pub for a St. Patrick’s Day show. We have a great time, no one gets their eye poked out by a stray guitar neck and everyone lives to party another day.
See the Jays with my dad. They win and the season is off to an optimistic but ultimately, of course, doomed start.
Soulpepper production of
You Can’t Take It with You, which is the company at its best, making the most of a somewhat anachronistic script through the use of outstanding talent.
The OSB duo, Jim & I, play some open stages to help me try to get my solo mojo back.
See the
Cheesman Jazz Orchestra at one of the big band’s monthly Rex gigs. Always come away thinking, “Why isn’t this band huge?” Great original compositions and arrangements, played by a first rate group of very dedicated, excellent musicians.
Full OSB performs a tight 25 minute set of originals at a benefit held at the Lula Lounge. An artistic success but ultimately not a very satisfying opportunity.
J&L see
Cavalia. Love it.
Dave Matthews Band at the Amphitheatre. Strikes me that this band is now all about virtuosity. Great night out. Impressive songs, awe-inspiring musicianship.
Soulpepper production of
OSB trio (Jim, Barry, me) play outside at the TWC’s Boardfest. Really appreciative audience and a fun, relaxed afternoon of music.
J&L see Norah Jones. OK, but second half clearly more interesting.
I help out with sound for the band
BF Soul. These young turks are fabulous.
Jim and I do a short singer/songwriter set at the Free Times Cafe. Dan and I do a short set at a fundraiser. Interesting - with all the meanings the word entails - but ultimately unproductive opportunities.
Coldplay at the ACC. Massive disappointment. Two opening acts, so headliner doesn’t appear until two hours after the ticketed start time. Band is too reliant on special effects and the sound mix is completely incomprehensible. I like these guys but this show was N/G.
Lyle Lovett at Roy Thomson: Beautiful, intimate presentation highlighting great songs played by excellent musicians. Even though I don’t really know Lovett’s stuff that well I was bowled over. Fantastic performer, great band.
Blue Rodeo at the Amphitheatre. Their shows, at least locally where I’ve seen them, have turned into big sing-a-long love-ins. And why not? The top of the heap of the bands whose success has been mainly (and mystifyingly) limited to the great white north. How is it that Cuddy’s voice is just getting better as time goes by?
Soulpepper production of Speed the Plow.
Bruce Springsteen at Skydome. Bruce brings the 2012 marathon set list tour to the baseball field and knocks it out of the park, as he has done throughout the summer. Not a subtle presentation, but in spite of all the predictable Bruce histrionics even a cynic can’t deny the contagious energy. The entire stadium is on its feet at a tour de force of pure rock and roll showmanship buttressed by the best r’n’r band ever. Seriously...ever. No auto-tune, explosives or dance troupe required.
Eric Peterson in the
Soulpepper production of Neil Simon’s the Sunshine Boys is too much fun, although the nurse segments are painfully dated and almost difficult to watch, even if you try to keep them in some kind of historical context. And Arthur Miller’s the Crucible is beautifully staged with a number of very powerful performances, including Stuart Hughes and Oliver Dennis. Sometimes challenging, sometimes just dumb fun this company continues to be a consistently entertaining local night out.