Sympathetic Stupid

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Broken Social Scene @ Corner

Charles Spearin

I preface this post with a picture of Charles Spearin (or, as I call him, the Funky Moustache - Funk-Mo) of Montreal band Do Make Say Think and Broken Social Scene. Please keep Charles in your mind's eye as you read the rest of this post.

So, Broken Social Scene, eh? Well, after seeing them just a couple of days ago and being comprehensively blown away, my expectations were sky-high going into last night's show. In fact, the task of my day (apart from attempting to identify each member) was moderating my expectations somewhat. For much of the day, they could have wheeled out Lennon, and Johnny Cash and Hendrix without satisfying my mental image. But by gig time I'd managed to dial it down a little.

So first up New Buffalo. Sally's always pretty decent, by no means a natural stage presence, but I love her voice. And her songs evoke a particular mood in me - not one immediately appropriate for a rock show, but this also helped in modulating my fever pitch. Her music's very studio-based, which leads to the use of a lot of pre-recorded stuff in concert, but it's handled pretty well. That said, the highlight of the set was when John Crossingham (from BSS) wandered out to play some pretty sensitive drums on the closer, No Party.

Then Broken Social Scene. Arriving early, we were well and truly at the front but, despite an apparent sell-out, the room was strangely not packed. Throughout the set there was heaps of room just metres from the stage. Not a complaint, just strange. Maybe the wall of guitars pushed the crowd back...

What was the set like? Well, to get it out of the way, they still rocked just as hard, and managed to get pretty close to my expectations. It's a very impressive live show. This was more well-rounded than Sunday; better sound and a longer set allowed more slow songs, and more sensitive treatment of them. We heard Anthems For A Seventeen Year Old Girl, the slow version of Major Label Debut (with Sally Seltmann joining Lisa Lobsinger on vocals), a very partial version of Windsurfing Nation after a request from the crowd, and some older tracks which I don't know. Though no I'm Still Your Fag or (I don't think) Looks Just Like The Sun.

And as for the stompers, the highlight had to be the enormous It's All Gonna Break. Told they had just four minutes left, the band eschewed the traditional "go off stage and make them cheer for five minutes", wandering off briefly before coming back to play the ten minutes or so. This was even bigger and louder than the other night because, when Charles put down his guitar to go cornet, the guitar was taken up by Spiral Stairs, indie legend Scott Kannberg from Pavement and Preston School Of Industry. This wasn't a suprise only because we'd seen Spiral already, joining the band on guitar for Ibi Dreams Of Pavement. I must admit, he didn't noticeably add to the sound (hey, what's twenty percent more guitar?) but his presence definitely added to the energy in the room.

Incidentally, I worked out most of the lineup for this tour. Cornerstone members Brendan Canning (mostly bass) and Kevin Drew (guitar and vocals, despite food poisoning yesterday) are there. The infinitely impressive Justin Peroff plays drums, regularly joined on the second kit by John Crossingham (also some guitar and backing vocals). Andrew Whiteman plays most of the big guitar solos with panache and a shedload of skill. Charles Spearin is the coolest man on stage plays guitar and cornet. His bandmate (from Do Make Say Think) Ohad Benchetrit plays guitar and alto sax. Violin (and some vocals) is Julie Penner. Lisa Lobsinger does most of the female vocals. That just leaves the trumpet player, whose intro I missed (it's not Jimmy Shaw), and the trombonist, who for the Melbourne leg is the trombonist from Architecture In Helsinki. Is it Tara Shackell? Maybe.

So that brings me to the highlight of the concert. The last track in the main set was "this one's for the lovers": Lover's Spit. Great track, a big anthem with a really mellow middle eight. Though in this case that was stretched a bit, as Kevin Drew and Charles Spearin descended the stage and began to hug a significant fraction of the entire audience. Apparently this is customary, but it was a surprise to me - especially when I found myself wrapped in the arms of Charles Spearin; the Divine Moustache himself! Refer back to the picture. He is truly the man.

I didn't shower this morning, and I may not shower ever again.