Thursday, May 28, 2009

Keane at Sound Academy Review

Last weekend, I went to see my (arguably) favourite band in concert.

It was my 6th time seeing them since February 2005. I went with a friend who had never seen them but loved their first album.

The Helio Sequence was the first band to take the stage at 8. They played for half an hour. I quite enjoy their sound and was very surprised that I knew all the songs (minus one) from having downloaded their album the week before which means that their songs are instantly likeable for me.

The only thing that I was a bit troubled about (and perhaps I'm overreacting) is that music began playing before they started playing their there were recorded music backing the two-member band (one sings and plays guitar while the other plays drums - obviously from their sound, there are more than two instruments being played). Should this bother me in today's electronic age? It didn't bother me to see Keane with a laptop by their keyboard in the past, but I guess I felt that Tim was "playing" the keyboard and the it seemed more legit...or I'm very biased towards Keane (which is true).

The two members of The Helio Sequence could not be more different. One is subdued and doesn't show much emotion (there were a few times when you saw the passion he had for the songs, but in general, he was low-key). The drummer on the other hand is crazy-animated. I only recorded one song (which is my favourite). It's not as lively as some of their other songs, so the drummer isn't as animated as other times, but I think it still gives a good representation of what they were like:

Mat Kearney was next to take the stage at 8:45 until 9:30. I had known of Mat since Grey's Anatomy showed one of his videos at the end of an episode.

I downloaded a bunch of other songs from that album, but I have to say that I didn't recognize as many of his songs that he performed that night (he also played for longer). He had a new album released a few days before the concert (that I unfortunately forgot to download) so he might have played a few from that album.

His performance was also excellent. The crowd was quite receptive and he was very appreciative. He made eye contact with many people in the audience, and you really felt like he was singing to us. I know that may sound corny, but often a band or artist is on stage and you feel like it's just another show.

I always love when bands or artists mention where they are. Even if it's just a "how are you Toronto?" I appreciate them acknowledging where they are.

I especially love it when it gets incorporated into a song. When Keane used to play Fly To Me, they would change the words and include something about the city in the lyrics (for us it was "when I'm far away from Lake On-ta-ri-o, will all your love bring me home")

Mat takes it to a new level though when he incorporates a whole new verse about the city he's visiting. I wish someone had uploaded the Toronto version, I would love to hear it again.

Here's another version about another city:

I recorded Closer To Love which is on the new album. I had downloaded that single before the album came out.

Annie Reuter from "You Sing, I Write" interviewed him a few days later when he was playing in New York. She'll be posting her review soon, so check out her blog to read more detail. I asked her to ask him about his ad-lib verse, whether it is planned in advance and whether he really goes to the places he's singing about. She told me that he does sightsee in the cities that he plays in, but that the verses are spontaneous. I'm very impressed. I wish I could remember more of it.

After his performance, he said he would be selling CD's and signing autographs at the merchandise stand. Unfortunately, the crowd started to get tighter in anticipation of Keane and I was afraid to lose my 3rd row spot so I stayed put.

Just after 10, Keane took to the stage for over 90 minutes. The crowd went nuts. The crowd was really the loudest and most appreciative I have heard in a long time...not just previous Keane concerts but other concerts as well (and men screaming as much as women - which is a change from a James Blunt concert). Unfortunately, the woman behind us had quite a pitch to her screaming, so my friend and I lost a bit of hearing from it. She was between us, so we must have looked cute. My left finger closing my left ear, her right finger closing her right ear...everytime she screamed. She eventually moved up between us which helped our ears since the sound was going forward not to the side.

My biggest complaints about Sound Academy are the stage not being as high as at other venues and the venue being long and narrow. This means that getting a good view is difficult. We were 3rd row and we still didn't have an amazing view (with no one tall in front of us). You can tell from the videos that often I have to move because my view is blocked. I am aware of people behind me, so don't like to hold my camera too high (normally I can hold it at my face level and get a great view, but not at the Sound Academy). The other problem that night was with the disorganization of the queue. It wasn't a first come first serve type of entry which was a shame for those (of us) who made a point of arriving early.

So back to Keane. I initially was concerned because Tom's microphone (the lead singer) wasn't in the centre. It was to the left (further from us). He stayed there for quite a few songs. Luckily, he did end up moving quite a bit later.

With Tom a bit further earlier on, I entertained myself by watching Tim. He had a great zebra shirt on (with shoes that matched the zebra).

The following video shows why I love Tim so much. I love watching him play, especially his feet.

It's really a shame that part of my view of him was blocked by the front keyboard, but then I got to see his face when he was singing and playing at the front keyboard.

Every time I have seen them perform in the past, it has been the 3 of them. Tom would sing and also play piano/keyboards for a couple of songs. Tim would play keyboards and Richard would play drums while they sang backup.

Last year, they added Jesse to play guitar and other instruments on tour (not sure if he will join the band permanently - he's still not mentioned on their myspace page), and Tom started to play guitar as well. I was quite concerned that Tom would lose some of his star quality by being busy playing guitar, but I was relieved when I saw them last weekend, that he only plays guitar on a few tracks. He stayed at the mike more, but he still managed to make his way around the stage quite a bit.

I can't say enough about the Toronto crowd (or about Keane appreciating the reaction). Tom was especially in a jovial and talkative mood.

It really was worth every penny. Hopefully it won't be my last time seeing them.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Lyrics about Mothers and Being a Mother

Happy Mother's Day!!

A while back, I made a CD of songs about being a parent. I am now amazed how many are performed by men, so those lyrics will wait until Father's Day (bet you can't wait!! lol)

So here are some of my favourite lyrics written about being a mother or about being a child of a mother.

Unsure of what the balance held
I touched my belly overwhelmed
By what I had been chosen to perform
To Zion by Lauryn Hill

I knew his life deserved a chance
But everybody told me to be smart
Look at your career they said,
"Lauryn, baby use your head"
But instead I chose to use my heart
Now the joy of my world is in Zion
To Zion by Lauryn Hill

And although not about mothers necessarily, these lines always make me think of my daughter:
Just a perfect day
Feed animals in the zoo
Perfect Day by Lou Reed, Bono and many others

Mother says I was a dancer before I could walk
She says I began to sing long before I could talk
Thank You for the Music by Abba

I see who I want to be
in my daughter's eyes
In My Daughter's Eyes by Martina McBride

In my daughter's eyes I can see the future
A reflection of who I am and what will be
Though she'll grow and someday leave
Maybe raise a family
When I'm gone I hope you see how happy
she made me
For I'll be there
In my daughter's eyes
In my daugter's eyes by martina mcbride

Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too
Daughters by John Mayer

This is the clock upon the wall
This is the story of us all
This is the first sound of a newborn child,
Before he starts to crawl
This is the war that’s never won
This is a soldier and his gun
This is the mother waiting by the phone,
Praying for her son
Pictures of You by The Last Goodnight

Now ending with three Canadian female singers with their thoughts on mothers:

You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn't speak
You were my eyes when I couldn't see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn't reach
You gave me faith 'coz you believed
I'm everything I am
Because you loved me
Because you loved me by Celine Dion

I've got a good mother,
and her voice is what keeps me here.
Feet on ground,
Heart in hand,
Facing forward,
Be yourself.
Good Mother by Jann Arden

And finally, a song that reminds me of how I don't want to parent:

Be a good boy
Push a little farther now
That wasn't fast enough
To make us happy
We'll love you just the way you are
if you're perfect
Perfect by Alanis Morissette

My favourite saying to my son or daughter is that they are perfect...for me! (with all their faults and mess-ups). I'm sure that I don't tell them that enough and that I am still too critical, but I am trying to accept them the way they are.