Who: Daniel Lanois, Terra Lightfoot at Canadian Music Week
Where: The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto
When: Friday, 1 May 2015
In One Word: Phenomenal
It’s officially open season. May 1st, and the first music festival of the summer as CMW takes over with shows for the next ten days at venues all over downtown Toronto. The sun came out and kissed the streets, and venues adorned themselves in CMW banners: the scene was set, and I couldn’t have found a better start to a summer as I strolled into a busy Horseshoe Tavern on Friday night.
For a brief moment, as we supped on a couple of regrettable Coors Banquets – “should have stuck with the anchors…” (Molson Stock Ale; cheaper, better, the Shoe staple) – and took in a distinctly older crowd, I thought maybe there was still time to make it up to Lee’s Palace for the METZ gig instead… But no. Daniel Lanois was playing the Shoe. This was the place to be. This was the real hot ticket. Daniel Lanois, a producer who has worked on three Grammy Award-winning albums, including U2’s Joshua Tree, and more recently worked his magic on on one of Neil Young’s finest records, the ultimate anti-pop masterpiece Le Noise.
Those credits are immense, and indeed it was pretty cool to experience Lanois live. In between some very questionable banter about “Tokyo b**ches”, bartering the flesh of his young (and very solid) drummer to the swooning girls, and song dedications to ‘the ladies’, Lanois and his band played through the smoothest free-flowing electro-rock jam you could hope to hear. Aside from a song with the sole lyric of “I love you”, which was pure Bono, everything was fully instrumental, sans lyrics, with songs from Lanois’ 2014 album Flesh Machine. The musicianship was impressive: we’re talking smooooooooothe! Songs rose and progressed to peaks and twists with an effortless but immense flow.
After a few songs though, my interest in Lanois’ live jam began to wane. He’ll take you to Labrador and back, with a soundtrack from Ontario to French Canada. But who the heck wants to go to Labrador? A song introduced as a native cry, “a reminder for us to live in nature”, peaked my interest again, which rocked out with orca-like cries. But somewhere near the end of his set, a “Jamaican” jam was played, which was a bad parody, I had had my fill of this electro rock jam. Daniel Lanois – a legendary producer and phenom musician but as a performer and showman? He had already been outgunned this very same night.
By the time Lanois had appeared on stage, my lower jaw was still finding its way back home from the floor after experiencing the phenomenal talent of Terra Lightfoot an hour earlier. From her opening wails in “No Hurry”, Hamilton, Ontario’s Terra and her very talented friends delivered big heavy hooks and all the lust and guts you could want. Seriously: what a voice! Big but soft, and with so much personality. Terra sings her songs with raw joy and power, and that’s one of the most amazing things you can ever see: no matter how tough, pissed-off or heartbroken the songs lyrics may be, Terra ends each number with a smile. Hearts were being moved and minds engaged, and the only crime was that people weren’t dancing down in front. But that’s just a Toronto and first-band-on thing. The set came to an end with a sexy, lip-biter of a number and then some big thank-you cheers from a thoroughly endeared crowd. Colour me smitten, bitten and wanting more.
Terra Lightfoot plays CMW again later this week on Thursday, May 7 at Bier Markt. Go get moved.
© Brian Banks, Editor, Music Vice
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