Concert Review : Black Sabbath (The End World Tour -Toronto 2016) #200wordchallenge

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I accepted the 200wordchallenge from Mike Ladano. I already reviewed another Sabbath concert this year. Since this is the last time I ever see Sabbath, I had to write about it. We missed Rival Sons since our train was late. Ozzy’s voice was better this time around, but still not in peak form. Ozzy had a hard time getting the words out in rapid fire. I heard guys talking after about how either Ozzy held the mic too far away, or the sound guy was at fault. I think it is just Ozzy getting old. Also, I would have left 4 songs off the setlist, and would have replaced them with some older songs and a few off 13.

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Tommy Clufetos pounded the drums into submission. Tony Iommi was his awesome self. Ozzy was pretty good for his age. However, Geezer stole the show for me. His amazing finger work was possibly better than any bassist I have ever seen live. The last number of times I saw Sabbath I concentrated on Tony, Ozzy and Tommy. Not this time. I watched Geezer on the big screen and he was on fire.

Goodbye Black Sabbath. I’ll really miss you.

8.5/10

These are the Dave’s I know, I know.

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I went to the Prophets of Rage Concert last night and for the second last song a surprise guest came out on stage. The crowd went nuts. I was half way down the aisle heading for the train when the band announced him. I quickly bolted back to my seat. I’ve never seen him live, so tonight I saw a ton of musicians I had never seen before. A full review of the concert is en route, but here are some shite photies, and a video or two.

 

 

 

 

 

(RePost) The Tragically Hip – Man Machine Poem (2016)

(Since today may be the last Hip concert ever, I am re posting this from earlier this year)

I went to the record store and asked the young guy behind the counter for my album that I had reserved. I was the first one in the store and so obviously the first purchase. He said “The first purchase of the day and it is the new Hip on vinyl. That is sweet.” We chatted about the Hip. He said his dad always tried to get him to listen to the band, but he ignored them because he felt they were a “Dad’s band”. Now with the news of Gord’s poor health it got him to check the back catalogue and he regrets not listening to his dad. (Don’t we all?). We agreed that they are so Canadian. “Like Rush” he exclaimed. It was refreshing walking into this particular chain and having a guy half my age agree with me on a band. Usually I get the blank stare, glazed over eyes look when I ask about anything not in the top 40, and the “Let me check the computer. How do you spell Led Zeppelin?”

When I got home I was excited to open the shrink wrap (I love gatefold albums, but it sucks that the shrink can not be used to protect this style of album). I was eager to see if the album was coloured. Sure enough, it was pristine, white vinyl. I was unsure if some copies would be white and others black. From all indications, all vinyl copies are white. I wanted the deluxe vinyl edition but they were delayed, were more than twice the price, and the big bonus was only a frame to mount the extra cover on the wall. Yes the deluxe also comes with a cd, but the biggest kicker is I wanted this sucker today, not in a week or two, so the regular vinyl edition it was.

Man – WTF is that at the start? I looked to see if they had cut the vinyl at 45rpm as is the trend now. Since I had the player on 33 1/3 for a normal record, I was not sure this was the right speed needed. After a bit the instruments chimed in and they sounded fine, then Gord sang and I knew all was fine. Still WTF was that start about? It sounds like it was the wrong speed, or kind of a robotic baby talk gibberish. One thing that is abundantly clear. Johnny Fay was going to ensure the drumming on this album was going to be way more pronounced than ever before on a Hip album. The keyboard work was great too. Also, the guitar work, was loud but also loud in a quiet kind of way. What I mean is that this is a great guitarist that can subtly play awesome chords without thrashing and drowning out all of the other instruments. More robot baby talk, and the song makes an abrupt ending.

In a World Possessed By The Human Mind – A real catchy tune. This is the lead single. Great drumming, sweet guitar, and Gord Downie. ‘Nuff said.

What Blue – The sound on this song is a little off. The drums sound a bit too loud, if that is possible. Then after 30 seconds or so the sound is better. The guitar work here is excellent and the background, distant vocals are a cool touch.

In Sarnia – Has almost an old country song start with what sounds a bit like a steel pedal guitar, then the song morphs into a beat a bit like John Lennon’s song Watching The Wheels. John Lennon beat, with way better guitars, drumming and Gord Downie. I am ok with that.

Here, In The Dark – This is another very catchy tune.  The guitar work and drums are stellar, and Gord’s voice is in peak form. This song could well have fit on Road Apples. It reminds me a bit of On The Verge. It`s that good. I dare you to listen to this and not have your toes and fingers tap. Maybe even air drum or air guitar. Don`t say I didn`t warn you.

The tonearm lifts to end side A and I flip the record over, brush off any dust (even though brand new, I have learned that white vinyl is near impossible to see dust on) and settle in for some more Hip.

Great Soul – For a brief few moments of this song it has kind of a AIC-Check My Brain meets stoner rock feel to it. I would have absolutely loved to see the Hip doing an entire song in that vein. It was unfortunately not going to happen though. The song is much more mellow than the beginning would have you believe. The song is nice enough, but the feelings of what could have been are too strong to resist. The slightly distorted guitar mixed with higher pitched, clean guitar and crashing cymbals on this song almost make up for it though.

Tired As Fuck – A mellow song with a cool beat. The guitar near the end of the song has kind of a Nashville feel to it. The title also represents how I feel every morning while the sweet coffee is brewing. I saw on The Hip website they have coffee mugs with this saying. I need one of those.

Hot Mic – 1, 2, 3, 4. Then the wicked guitar and booming drums kick in. Another amazing song. This could have been easily off of Trouble At The Henhouse. I get a definite Springtime In Vienna vibe here.

Ocean Next – Has an acoustic guitar, and a trippy, psychedelic feel to the vocals. To me it is Tragically Hip meets Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet meets early Pink Floyd. How is that for a mashup.

Machine – Drums, guitar and computer generated echoing sounds start this song off. Gord sings in varying degrees of pitch going from deeper than usual to higher than he often does. Wicked guitar kicks in and I am seriously bobbing my head up and down to this sweet song. This really is a great Hip song. If this is the last Hip song ever recorded, I will not be happy, but will be ok.

The album ends and I choke up. The entire thing floods me with emotion. I know the album was recorded before Gord’s diagnosis, but at times it is almost foreboding. Some of the lyrics. The deeper tones. It almost seems like a send off, even if was not intended to be that way.

To me the handwritten credits and lyrics on the cover are not my favourite. I have an issue with bands trying to be cute with album liners. Perhaps legible ones could have been on the album and an insert could have been included with the scratchy, scribbled, almost illegible ones we are stuck with. Another nitpick would be that there is no download card or cd included.  Also, Gord Sinclair`s bass could have been turned up once in a while to let us know he was there, and Paul Langlois could have done his Yin to Gord Downie`s yang as on previous efforts. However, overall this may perhaps be the best album the band has put out since the heydays of the 90`s. If this is the last we hear from The Hip, we know they went out on their own terms, and they delivered a great album to boot.

9/10

 

 

 

Album Review : The Tragically Hip – Man Machine Poem (2016)

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I went to the record store and asked the young guy behind the counter for my album that I had reserved. I was the first one in the store and so obviously the first purchase. He said “The first purchase of the day and it is the new Hip on vinyl. That is sweet.” We chatted about the Hip. He said his dad always tried to get him to listen to the band, but he ignored them because he felt they were a “Dad’s band”. Now with the news of Gord’s poor health it got him to check the back catalogue and he regrets not listening to his dad. (Don’t we all?). We agreed that they are so Canadian. “Like Rush” he exclaimed. It was refreshing walking into this particular chain and having a guy half my age agree with me on a band. Usually I get the blank stare, glazed over eyes look when I ask about anything not in the top 40, and the “Let me check the computer. How do you spell Led Zeppelin?”

When I got home I was excited to open the shrink wrap (I love gatefold albums, but it sucks that the shrink can not be used to protect this style of album). I was eager to see if the album was coloured. Sure enough, it was pristine, white vinyl. I was unsure if some copies would be white and others black. From all indications, all vinyl copies are white. I wanted the deluxe vinyl edition but they were delayed, were more than twice the price, and the big bonus was only a frame to mount the extra cover on the wall. Yes the deluxe also comes with a cd, but the biggest kicker is I wanted this sucker today, not in a week or two, so the regular vinyl edition it was.

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Man – WTF is that at the start? I looked to see if they had cut the vinyl at 45rpm as is the trend now. Since I had the player on 33 1/3 for a normal record, I was not sure this was the right speed needed. After a bit the instruments chimed in and they sounded fine, then Gord sang and I knew all was fine. Still WTF was that start about? It sounds like it was the wrong speed, or kind of a robotic baby talk gibberish. One thing that is abundantly clear. Johnny Fay was going to ensure the drumming on this album was going to be way more pronounced than ever before on a Hip album. The keyboard work was great too. Also, the guitar work, was loud but also loud in a quiet kind of way. What I mean is that this is a great guitarist that can subtly play awesome chords without thrashing and drowning out all of the other instruments. More robot baby talk, and the song makes an abrupt ending.

In a World Possessed By The Human Mind – A real catchy tune. This is the lead single. Great drumming, sweet guitar, and Gord Downie. ‘Nuff said.

What Blue – The sound on this song is a little off. The drums sound a bit too loud, if that is possible. Then after 30 seconds or so the sound is better. The guitar work here is excellent and the background, distant vocals are a cool touch.

In Sarnia – Has almost an old country song start with what sounds a bit like a steel pedal guitar, then the song morphs into a beat a bit like John Lennon’s song Watching The Wheels. John Lennon beat, with way better guitars, drumming and Gord Downie. I am ok with that.

Here, In The Dark – This is another very catchy tune. I would think this would be another single, but unfortunately nothing is uploaded yet so I can not share. The guitar work and drums are stellar, and Gord’s voice is in peak form. This song could well have fit on Road Apples. It reminds me a bit of On The Verge. It`s that good. I dare you to listen to this and not have your toes and fingers tap. Maybe even air drum or air guitar. Don`t say I didn`t warn you.

The tonearm lifts to end side A and I flip the record over, brush off any dust (even though brand new, I have learned that white vinyl is near impossible to see dust on) and settle in for some more Hip.

Great Soul – For a brief few moments of this song it has kind of a AIC-Check My Brain meets stoner rock feel to it. I would have absolutely loved to see the Hip doing an entire song in that vein. It was unfortunately not going to happen though. The song is much more mellow than the beginning would have you believe. The song is nice enough, but the feelings of what could have been are too strong to resist. The slightly distorted guitar mixed with higher pitched, clean guitar and crashing cymbals on this song almost make up for it though.

Tired As Fuck – A mellow song with a cool beat. The guitar near the end of the song has kind of a Nashville feel to it. The title also represents how I feel every morning while the sweet coffee is brewing. I saw on The Hip website they have coffee mugs with this saying. I need one of those.

Hot Mic – 1, 2, 3, 4. Then the wicked guitar and booming drums kick in. Another amazing song. This could have been easily off of Trouble At The Henhouse. I get a definite Springtime In Vienna vibe here.

Ocean Next – Has an acoustic guitar, and a trippy, psychedelic feel to the vocals. To me it is Tragically Hip meets Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet meets early Pink Floyd. How is that for a mashup.

Machine – Drums, guitar and computer generated echoing sounds start this song off. Gord sings in varying degrees of pitch going from deeper than usual to higher than he often does. Wicked guitar kicks in and I am seriously bobbing my head up and down to this sweet song. This really is a great Hip song. If this is the last Hip song ever recorded, I will not be happy, but will be ok.

The album ends and I choke up. The entire thing floods me with emotion. I know the album was recorded before Gord’s diagnosis, but at times it is almost foreboding. Some of the lyrics. The deeper tones. It almost seems like a send off, even if was not intended to be that way.

To me the handwritten credits and lyrics on the cover are not my favourite. I have an issue with bands trying to be cute with album liners. Perhaps legible ones could have been on the album and an insert could have been included with the scratchy, scribbled, almost illegible ones we are stuck with. Another nitpick would be that there is no download card or cd included.  Also, Gord Sinclair`s bass could have been turned up once in a while to let us know he was there, and Paul Langlois could have done his Yin to Gord Downie`s yang as on previous efforts. However, overall this may perhaps be the best album the band has put out since the heydays of the 90`s. If this is the last we hear from The Hip, we know they went out on their own terms, and they delivered a great album to boot.

9/10

 

 

 

The Tragically Hip – Now For Plan A(2012)

Bob Crock was out as producer (yayy), and Gavin Brown was brought in. Brown was a producer that had worked with the most popular Canadian bands from the late 90’s onward, worked with most of the artists on Canadian Idol, and even worked with Lady Gaga and NKOTB. Perhaps he would bring the band back to their rock roots the way I had hoped Bob would. Let’s find out.

At Transformation – Pounding drums. Booming bass. Amazing guitar work, and haunting vocals. Ten seconds in I knew this album had the potential to be better than the last 2 combined. Then the guitar work gets even more wicked, and Gord’s voice goes from haunting, to wailing, to an angry yell. Amazing song.

Man Machine Poem – The video below was taped at a special event to promote this album in October of 2012. Me and 100 or so of my new found best friends stood in awe as The Hip belted out songs for us 15 feet away. Wow. It was awesome. Then I saw the band close out Ivor Wynne Stadium a few days later. It was quite the week.

The Look Ahead – A song that reminds me of 54-40. It has a catchy beat, and is breezy and fun. Sarah Harmer joins in on background vocals on this one. I can only assume that Gavin Brown made this union possible. Her addition may be the only time I enjoyed an added vocalist on a Hip album.

We Want To Be It – Gord has some punky, angry vocals going on here. Perhaps his angriest ever. The guitar workings of Rob Baker are real cool as well.

Streets Ahead – A fast paced, bouncy song. The difference in Gord’s  voice between the verses and chorus is the highlight of the song for me.

Now For Plan A – A mellow song that has a ton of wah pedal influenced guitar that is quiet but not lost in the mix. Sarah Harmer again joins in, and her voice is a nice compliment to Gord’s.

The Modern Spirit – Gord’s voice is the star here. I love the parts of the song were he yells “yeahhhhhh’. I could not stop my fingers and toes from tapping along to this one.

About This Map – Again we have quiet but still amazing guitar. Also, again, Gord’s voice changes pitch. Quiet and mellow at one point, then loud and piercing the next.

Take Forever – Has a similar sound to The Look Ahead. At times Gord sounds like he is singing in a tunnel, then it cuts to crystal clear lyrics.

Done And Done – Cool but subtle wah influenced guitars mix with Gord’s wonderful voice. I love the sound when he sings the “through and through” section.

Goodnight Attawapiskat – Another classroom lesson by the band. Helping us 1)be socially conscious, 2) learn about Canadian history, and 3) search for places we have not heard of on the map. All in a good musical package.

This album is light years above the last 2 albums in my opinion. The packaging and pictures are cool. The musicianship is amazing. The music was left up to the band as it should be, and the lone addition of a vocalist on 2 songs helps the songs out, instead of hurting.

9/10

 

 

 

 

The Tragically Hip – We Are The Same (2009)

Ok. Bob What’s His Name is back. Maybe he’ll redeem himself here. Thankfully he didn’t do a Partridge family impression on this one and bring his kids along for the ride. I looked at the huge list of additional(which up to this point have always been unnecessary) musicians and was skeptical, but I’ll go in with an open mind.

Morning Moon – Mellow acoustic strings start this one off. 15 seconds in, the tone picks up. This song has both a country charm, and orchestral strings, but surprisingly it works. I could have seen this song to have been a crossover hit on the country and rock charts. In sort of a Blue Rodeo or Steve Earle kind of way.

Honey, Please – More mellow, twangy country sounds. Ok. 1 was fine. 2 may be too much. Especially to begin an album for a rock band, Bob. Neither of these 2 songs are bad, just leading Hip fans in the wrong direction. Some fans may only get 2 songs in and disregard the rest of the album.

The Last Recluse – This song begins off almost Bowie like. A little less mellow than the last 2, but still has a bit of a twang near the middle part of the song. Rob Baker does get some psychedelic sounding guitar licks in though.

Coffee Girl – Has an almost early/mid 90`s alternative beat. It also unfortunately has the same meaningless lyrics found in most of those songs of that ilk.

Now The Struggle Has a Name – Yes It does. Bob. Cool guitar work in this one. At 1:23 of this song, the band completely shifts gears. What a breath of fresh air.

Depression Suite – This song shows some of the Hip of old, but still feels like a wild animal in chains.

The Exact Feeling – I can hear Rob Baker`s wah influenced guitar and no matter how much you know who tries to screw this one up, I know it will be ok. It is a pretty decent song.

Queen Of The Furrows – This song starts slow, but gets a little faster. Around 2 minutes in the pace picks up, and Rob Baker’s guitar wails. That 2 minute mark seems to be the point in which this album awakens as well. I wonder if Bob went to the can, and the band locked him in.

Speed River – The drums are the star on this one. The guitar work is pretty good as well.

Frozen In My Tracks – You can sense something bubbling below the surface on this song. The first minute of the song is a buildup, but after that minute mark the band pounces. The instruments boom and Gord’s voice goes off into an angry, wonderful place.

Love Is A First – The only charting single on the album is an amazing song. It has some similar aspects to TPOH, especially the spoken word section during the fourth verse. The drumming is precise, the bass thumps, the guitar is amazing, and the added effects are cool.

Country Day – Bob must have freed himself, and as punishment forced the band to have a bunch of orchestral musicians join in. It is not an awful song, but Gord seems to be phoning the vocals in, and the background are a whole bunch of strangers. Rob Baker’s guitar is lost in the mix. After the momentum of the last few songs almost saving this record, this song drops it back into the cesspool.

This album should have been an EP. 5 or 6 songs would have been better than 12. The whole Bob Rhymes With Sock experiment completely failed in my opinion. He never brought anything unique to the table. He muddied the waters, restrained the band from doing what they do best, and brought a ton of people that were not needed along for the ride. All at the bands expense, both monetarily, and musically.

6/10

 

The Tragically Hip – World Container (2006)

WOW. Bob Freakin’ Rock as a producer. He has(had) the rock cred. His last name is Rock for heavens sake. Sonic Temple, Dr. Feelgood, Black Album, Keep The Faith just to name a few. This album was going to rock. Bob Rock.

Yer Not The Ocean – Great first song. It comes across as a woman that feels she is all that. Gord let’s her know she is not actually all that. “You’re not the ocean. You’re not even close.” I personally enjoy the jab at Britney Invisible, the guitar work (natch), and the vocal differences between the soft and hard parts of the song.

The Lonely End of The Rink – Screeching guitar and pounding drums begin this song off. Then the bass booms in and Gord chimes in. All four musical components blend for a really good tune. The fact that it has a flamenco guitar section and that it has a hockey theme are icing on the cake.

In View – The drumming starts off like I’m An Adult Now, then the keyboards lighten the song a bit. Not enough to ruin it though. This is another cool tune. The lyrics of “Phone rings once. Phone Rings Twice. Phone Rings Three Times” are actually a highlight for their simplicity and uniqueness.

Fly – Quoting Bohemian Rhapsody is always a good thing in my mind. Also name dropping places in Canada, amazing vocals and wonderful guitar.

Luv(sic) – Cool word play in the title. The subtle yet powerful drums, the trippy background effects and Gord’s voice are the highlights of this one for me.

The Kids Don’t Get It – Gord is the star here. He goes from soft to punk rock belter and back. The song is way too long and repetitive but Gord makes it listenable. His yells especially the whails.

Pretend – WT Flying F is this? Did I mistakenly pop a Michael Buble song in? Ladies and Gentlemen, the award for the worst Tragically Hip song ever goes to…..Pretend.

Last Night I Dreamed You Didn’t Love Me – More drivel from Bob(I refuse to use his last name from this point forward). This song has some decent drums and guitar but the lyrics are droning and repetitive. The lovey dovey theme is following the last awful song and leading the album in the wrong direction.

The Drop-Off – That should have been the song title 2 songs ago to represent the album drop off. The guitar work and Gord’s voice are good here though. Maybe this album can be brought back from the dung heap.

Family Band – This is a good song. Name dropping Dylan, the lyrics “Hey get that kick drum loaded. Into the back seat folded down.”, the great guitar, and Gord’s voice are the highlights for me.

World Container – This is perhaps not the best song to end the album on. Think a slighty harder version of Elton John. Bob even brought his kids along to sing background vocals. Totally professional. The kids don’t get it. Maybe the adults don’t either.

I had high hopes for this album with Bob on board. I was hoping he would harken back to his earlier days in the 90’s and live up to his last name. However, he was also producing softer bands such as Michael Buble and Bryan Adams by this point in his career, and I think he steered the band into softer, perhaps even cheesy territory. Bad move Bob.

I should be fair, as there are good songs on this album. It’s just the totally awful, sappy, lounge lizard songs almost ruin the album for me, but I will look at the album as a whole.

7.5/10