Saturday, October 23rd, 2004
That's When I Reach For My Revolver
Last night’s main event: Mission Of Burma at Lee’s Palace. Since their surprise reunion last year after a break of almost 20 years, I’d been hoping that their erratic touring schedule would bring them to Toronto, so I was pretty stoked that they were finally finding their way to my neck of the woods. Though obviously before my time (I will not pretend I was rocking out to Vs when I was 7 – it was more like Huey Lewis’ Sports), they were already legends by the time I discovered them – oft-covered and spoken of in reverential tones. Especially encouraging were reports that despite the extended layoff, the band were just as good as they were in the 80s and the release of their second album, onOffon this past Spring seemed to prove they still had plenty left in the tank.
Taking the stage at midnight, Peter Prescott and Clint Conley (do they sound like Marvel Comics secret identities or what?) still looked lean and fighting fit, even in their forties. Roger Miller looked kinda like a high school shop teacher, especially with the industrial-grade earmuffs. But from the word go, they tore into their material with a ferocity and intensity that would have put to shame musicians half their age – Prescott’s thunderous drumming, Conley’s sledgehammer bass and Miller’s abraisive and jagged guitar work were ably augmented by Bob Weston at the soundboard on the tape loops, filling the role originally occupied by Martin Swope. Playing two half-hour sets and an encore, they powered through a set list comprising old material and new, and it’s worth noting the new stuff stood alongside classics like “Peking Spring” and “Trem Two” – no mean feat. The decent-sized but not overwhelmingly large crowd went fairly nuts all the way through but the best response was naturally reserved for set closers “Academy Fight Song” (imagine a whole room screaming, “I’M NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT YOUR ACADEMY!” – it’s good), “Fame and Fortune” and of course, “That’s When I Reach For My Revolver”. While the band seemed to be having a terrific time and there’s no reason to think that Mission of Burma will be put back into mothballs any time soon, I’m certainly thankful I got the chance to see them while they’re still going at it full tilt.
Locals From Fiction opened up the night and their spastic mathy/post-rock/whatchamacalit set proved an excellent match for MoB. I had seen them last year opening for Wilco, and that was a more incongruous lineup. That time, they seemed a little overwhelmed in the cavernous Kool Haus with a mostly unimpressed audience – this time, in a smaller club with a crowd more receptive to their sound, it worked much better. I can’t say that I’d ever want to listen to one of their records, but they’re amazing to watch live – it’s like seeing four guys being simultaneously taser-ed.
This is not a photograph. But these are.
Before going to Lee’s for the show, I went to see Michael Mann’s Collateral at the Bloor. Quick premise if you don’t know – Jamie Foxx the cabbie finds himself driving Tom Cruise the hit man around Los Angeles while he makes his rounds. Both Foxx and Cruise start out as fairly basic character types (icy-cold killer, nice guy cabbie) but become somewhat more interesting as the film goes one, though not really expanding beyond those one-line descriptions. Of course, this wasn’t really a film about character development – it was a suspense/thriller flick and it was both effectively suspenseful and thrilling where it needed to be. It takes a little while to get moving but when it does, it’s a steady climb through to the climax on the MTA (do trains in Los Angeles really run that late at night?). Despite noting a few overly-convenient plot twists peppered throughout to keep things moving, it was definitely enjoyable. And Tom Cruise should keep that grey hair thing going, it works for him.
One of my favourite album discoveries of this past year was Tresspassers William’s Different Stars. Originally released independently last year, it’s a gorgeous blend of slow, spacey shoegaze and country influences, anchored by Anna-Lynne Williams’ sad, soaring voice. They recently signed to Nettwerk who rereleased the record in North America this past Tuesday (and it will come out worldwide in December) with enough of a different tracklisting to warrant picking up again. Says the band,
“This version is significantly different, in addition to the slightly different art and full album lyrics. there are three tracks replacing three old album tracks (‘Vapour Trail’ and the two new b-sides that were released on the UK singles), and one live track from our KCRW) performance.”
While I will gripe a little about buying a second copy of the record, I suppose it’s different enough to warrant it – and I’ll probably be able to turn up a copy used… At least the fact that the band will be putting out a new record next year and touring in March makes me happy.
Junkmedia gets the first Luna interview I’ve seen with more of the band than just Dean since they announced their dissolution, and they’re pretty frank about the reasons. For example, says Sean: “If I told you how much I made from Luna last year, it would not be funny.” Sniff.
np – Neko Case / The Tigers Have Spoken