Thursday, October 19, 2006

Big Star Baby

concert review: Mojave 3, Tim O'Reagan @ The Mod Club(Toronto, Ontario), October 16, 2006

Neil Halstead of Mojave 3 @ The Mod Club: photo by Michael Ligon

I believe the last time Mojave 3 swung through Toronto was their show at the Horseshoe in October 2003. In one of my very first blog posts, I even mentioned my disappointment for not going to the show. A good three years later and I finally got to see Mojave 3 live finally, minus Rachel Goswell unfortunately. With the knowledge that Rachel Goswell wouldn't be at the show this past Tuesday(due to her health problems), I was wondering if I'd feel her absence. I did miss her background vocals on "Some Kinda Angel" actually. At best, I'm only a casual fan of Mojave 3 and my familiarity with them is mostly based on their "Out Of Tune" and "Excuses For Travellers" albums. I felt fortunate that they performed a bunch of tunes off those albums. The show was my introduction to the new album and I found romping set-opener "Truck Driving Man" an interesting change of tempo for them. Actually, most songs(including older material) were fleshed out with full band arrangements that I felt lost some of the original album tracks delicacy such as was the case with a track like "Who Do You Love". It was surprising that the set was louder than I'd expected. A few times the band set off on a noisy jam. Not that these jams weren't enjoyable on one level, but for me it was quite unexpected, inevitably leading to at least slight disappointment. I will concur with others, like Chromewaves, in attendance that the sound was muddy and I could barely make out the vocals. I was up front and not directly in front of a blaring speaker and I still couldn't make out the vocals clearly. Regardless of all my criticisms of the show, the music itself, still made the show very enjoyable. And Mojave 3 knows how to do a merch table the right away - they had a few t-shirts, ALL their CD's, a couple of vinyl releases, and posters for sale, all at affordable prices(I picked up "Puzzles For You" and "Spoon and Rafter" on CD).

Opening up the show was ex-Jayhawks member Tim O'Reagan and his band performing a set of vibrant country-rock, identifiable for it's tight melodies, as well as for it's varying guitar textures that went from Big Star crunchiness to mellower tones. As much as I liked it, far too often the songs resided in that mid-tempo territory which made the set a little too samey-sounding for my tastes. While there were a fair bit of people in attendance for his set, he didn't stir much excitement at least if the gap at the front of the stage between the audience and the band was any indication. However, his music did garner polite if not some genuinely enthusiastic applause. As no-frills country rock goes, the music's great, but I think I could just have easily listened to his CD and come up with the same reaction.

Here are my photos.

Mojave 3 at MySpace.

Chromewaves authoritatively writes up the show complete with photos.

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