Monday, July 17, 2006

Rock N' Roll Singer

concert review: Mark Kozelek w/ Shuyler Jansen @ Lee's Palace(Toronto, Ontario), July 13, 2006

My last blog post was last Thursday and I hadn't planned to post on Friday or Saturday, but by Sunday I still hadn't posted because I was still recovering from a bout of sinus/chest congestion I'd had for 3 or 4 days. The hot weather wasn't helping either, but thank God for air conditioning. I swear, when you can't breathe, NOTHING else matters. I feel a little better this morning, although I called in sick to work in order to recover fully.

Although I'd called in sick last Thursday because I felt like I came down with a cold and I was feeling slightly congested, I still made it out that night to see Mark Kozelek at Lee's Palace. Mark and another gentleman on guitar performed a hypnotic set of songs. Mark's own guitar playing as well as that of the other gentleman featured very fluid finger-picked arrangements. From the first-note sung, Mark had the audience entranced with the confessional tone of Mark's liquid, sweet-as-honey vocals. The added reverb to his vocals elevated the sound to something unearthly. From the first note Mark sung, I remember a few people laughing and high-fiving each other because the sound of Mark's vocals were ridiculously sublime. This is one of the few shows I've been to at Lee's Palace where there was a hush over the crowd as the artist performed. Between songs, Mark joked about the in-between song audience chatter, alluding to the fact that the chatter shouldn't get too out of hand, or else he won't be able to create 'magic'. ;-)

At one point in the set, the other gentleman onstage left and Mark performed solo. I'm not entirely familiar with his catalogue, but from some of the audience chatter I recall, I believe this part of the set featured Mark's covers of Modest Mouse songs (of which marked released a whole album's worth of this, entitled "Tiny Cities" under the Sun Kil Moon moniker). Eventually, Mark's guitar-companion returned to the stage, to finish off the rest of the set as well as one encore. I must admit, there was a sameiness to Mark's overall sound but the quality of the individual melodies were superb enough to overcome that. Now if my feet weren't so tired, I would have enjoyed it even more. Still, it was a lovely performance.

I'd only caught several songs from opener Shuyler Jansen. I didn't know anything about him beforehand but I think he took an admirable stab in that singer-songwriter playing guitar in that acoustic roots rock vein. While his performance prompted some polite, if not a bit of genuine, applause no one was up front for his performance and there was a degree of audible chatter in the room. It's a little unfortunate that Shuyler had to open up for Mark Kozelek. Two singer-songwriters singing and playing acoustic guitar on the same night? Isn't that some sort of no-no?

It was disappointing about the strict 'no photos allowed' rule which was clearly posted outside Lee's Palace's doors. You know they mean business when the sign includes the fact that anyone not obeying the no-photos rule will be removed. I didn't even dare try.

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