Saturday, October 8th, 2005
Going into last night’s Rob Dickinson show at the Horseshoe, there were a few questions that remained unanswered. Who was opening? When they promised Rob solo, did they mean solo from Catherine Wheel or solo from anyone else, acoustic troubadour style? And who, more than one person asked when I told them what I was doing last night, was Rob Dickinson?
I won’t bother addressing the last question, because it makes me feel old. And to the first question, I have no idea. I arrived just as Rob’s set was starting and the sandwich board out front only read “& guests”. Not even “special guests”. No one I talked to knew who I missed. Finally, as for the configuration, the answer was both and neither. Rob was indeed playing acoustically, but he brought along a second guitarist and keyboardist and was definitely not above running his Taylor acoustic through a bank of pedals. This unconventional configuration necessitated a rearrangement of most of the songs from Rob’s new album Fresh Wine For The Horses, but it worked really well. There wasn’t a lot of hard, fast material in the set so the bed of acoustic guitars and thick keyboards did a fine job of laying the musical bed for Rob’s amazing vocals to soar over.
I had forgotten how powerful his voice is – though it broke and rasped at a few points, Dickinson managed to remind everyone that he probably has one of the best voices anywhere in rock music. Warm and chatty with the adoring crowd (the ‘Shoe was near packed – Toronto has always been freakishly adoring of the Catherine Wheel), he was able to switch it into raw intensity as soon as the music started. Goosebump-inducing. The bulk of the set was drawn from Fresh Wine, which is actually a better record than I had expected, but he naturally closed things out with Catherine Wheel material – the main set with a gorgeous “Heal” and the encore with “Future Boy” and “Black Metallic”. Even with the stripped down band configuration, they managed to create a convincing wall of sound that retained all the majesty of the fully amplified album versions. I don’t know if Rob is going to get the tour support from Sanctuary to continue touring his record, but even if he doesn’t, I’m sure it’s comforting to know that he’ll always be able to pack a house with the faithful in Toronto.
Since I arrived late, there was no fighting my way through the wall of big dudes to get up front. I did manage to squeeze close enough in to get some decent pics. They really had Rob lit up really well on stage – and he was sweating buckets as a result. That’s the price of rock, Rob.
Zoilus’ secret identity of Carl Wilson has a piece in today’s Globe & Mail about the re-emergence of the storyteller in indie rock, using upcoming shows by The Decemberists (October 13th @ The Phoenix), The Fiery Furnaces (October 10 @ Lee’s Palace) and Destroyer (October 9 @ The Phoenix) to make his point.
Starting this week and running every week through December, American Analog Set will be making available demos for every song from their new album Set Free on their website. Go to the “recordings” section of their site to grab the first one, for “Immaculate Heart”. And thank them by going to see them at the Horseshoe on November 13. Thanks to Andy from the Galaxie 500 mailing list (and a defunct AmAnSet fanpage) for the info.
Stylus has finished compiling their week-long countdown of the 50 best movies of the
’90s ’00s. If you don’t feel like scrolling down, The Royal Tennenbaums takes top spot, to no one’s surprise considering Stylus’ demographic. I’m not challenging the selection, just saying that when I saw it, I though, “figures”. Myself, I’ve seen 30 of these 50, more than I’d expected. I guess that explains why I can never find anything to rent at the video store. I’ve already seen most of the good stuff.
np – Bob Dylan / The Bootleg Series, Vol. 6: Bob Dylan Live 1964 – Concert at Philharmonic Hall