Wednesday, July 27, 2005

It's All In My Mind

concert review: Teenage Fanclub w/ The Rosebuds @ The Mod Club(Toronto, Ontario), July 25, 2005

Norman and Gerard of Teenage Fanclub @ The Mod Club: photo by Mike LigonI can check off Teenage Fanclub from my list of must-see shows because I FINALLY got around to seeing them live when they played an intimate mid-sized club show Monday night at The Mod Club in Toronto in front of a nearly packed house. The openers were Merge Records' The Rosebuds who I knew nothing about. Having heard only samples off the Merge site, then hearing them live I thought they were a decent, if somewhat, schizophrenic live band. Their name conjures thoughts of indiepop and yes there was that side to them, but on the other side, they had songs that featured a beat, garage sound. I'm a sucker for good pop songs and I thought they hit their stride when they concentrated more on their pop tunes, which featured a bevy of good things like pretty melodies, attractive male/female vocals and confident, yet tasteful, instrumentation. It was a little off-putting to go from that, to a garage-beat ditties which seemed little more than an opportunity for the band to rock out. I had the perception that the band, who were playing in Canada for the first time, might have thought that they needed to rock out in order to please first-time listeners, but believe you me, give Toronto fans pretty melodies and we'll be drooling all over ourselves.

After what seemed like an eternity of soundchecking, Teenage Fanclub finally strolled onto stage. I'd managed to get near to the front of the stage. It was interesting to see the band's core members after all these years: Norman Blake, no longer the shaggy haired slacker I remember him to be and now sporting a clean-cut look, Gerard Love looking as boy-ish as ever, and Raymond McGinley who seemingly has grown out his hair in direct contrast to Norman's clean-cut look. Overall, they didn't look like the young slackers I remembered them to be when they appeared on Saturday Night Live back in the early 90's. It's funny that, although I've sort of kept up with their music releases I've been completely oblivious to how they've physically transformed. Not that they're old men but having had that romanticized image of them as young punks, part of the romance was lost seeing their older selves. But to be fair, haven't we all aged? The physical aspect aside, I was totally ecstatic to be seeing The Fannies live for the first time, and considering that their last couple of shows in Toronto were at bigger venues, I was even happier to be seeing them in a small intimate venue.

The setlist from the show can be found here. It was a veritable greatest 'hits' set, as The Fannies played tunes spanning most if not all of their albums. My favourites included "About you", "The Cabbage", "Starsign", "I Need Direction", "I Don't Want Control", "Don't Look Back", "Neil Jung", and encore-closer "The Concept". The guitar sound, Raymond's in particular, was pretty clear in my opinion but I found the vocal mix to be a little muddy, especially with Norman's mic. In contrast, when Gerard took reign of vocal duties on his own mic, such as on "Don't Look Back", I recall his vocals being alot more clearer. I don't really have any point of reference other than their albums to compare their live set but I did perceive a slight level of restraint with the instrumentation, especially on rockers like "The Cabbage" and "The Concept". Overall, these are only minor complaints and I'd say that The Fannies delivered the goods for the most part. If I really wanted to file a complaint, it would have to be for all the songs they DIDN'T play. (I REALLY wished they played "What You Do To Me", "Hang On", and "Radio") Otherwise, it was a great set and I'll be replaying these songs in my head for days. [photos from the show]
Yesterday, I managed to make it down to the sweltering interior confines of Soundscapes in Toronto to catch an instore performance by Cuff The Duke. They played a bunch of new tunes like "Belgian or Peru" and "Take My Money And Run"(dedicated to everyone who's ever worked a shitty job) as well as some older ones. They're so young but to hear how musically confident they were was amazing. I didn't realize it until yesterday but frontman Wayne Petti reminds me physically of actor/comedian Seth Green. He's funny too, but not nearly as much of a smart ass. Thankfully. I caught the segment E-Talk Daily did on the band tonight. They showed clips of the band's instore performance[I was wondering whose camera that was in the store.] According to the band's website, they are featured on the cover of the new issue of Exclaim!; the website isn't updated yet but the print version should be available now.

Thanks to Just Keep Bloggin' for the heads up that Feist: Live at Rehearsal Hall will air on Bravo! Canada on August 9th at 9pm.

Download decent quality video of Feist's live performance of "Mushaboom" on Late Night With Conan O'Brien, courtesy of From Blown Speakers.

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