Category Archives: Music

The Police’s Legacy Holds Up At Toronto Reunion Stop

The Police at the Air Canada Centre in 2007.

The Police at the Air Canada Centre in 2007.

LIVE: The Police
July 22, 2007
Air Canada Centre
Toronto, Ontario

A bass-playing Sumner and his two bandmates did a woeful job of bashing their way through a set of Coldplay-inspired rock ‘n’ lite reggae last night. It’s a good thing then, that it was Joe Sumner and his tepid foray into the family business known as Fiction Plane and not the main gig as anchored by Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner — better known to the world as Sting.

That Sting’s son’s band opened for The Police’s first tour appearance in Toronto since 1983 cast a nepotistic pall over the early evening — particularly considering Joe plays bass and yelp-sings almost exactly like his dad, minus the charisma. About their only high point was single “Two Sisters,” but even that was an act of imitation.

The short intermission video that took place during the changeover didn’t bode well either. Sure, everyone loves Bob Marley and footage of him doing sit-ups is fun, but the extended coverage of models walking catwalks was an inexplicable inclusion that seemed straight out of Fashion File‘s b-roll archives.

There was great relief then when Sting, guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland took to the stage to right early wrongs. They started off with the beloved “Message In A Bottle” and, with the house lights on high in the ACC, the sold-out show was instantly converted into a dancing, singing mass.

“Synchronicity II” made for an enjoyable first dip into deep-cut territory and “Walking On The Moon” triggered a football stadium-spirited singalong on top of showcasing Sting’s still-got-it pipes. Indeed, the singer effortlessly made everyone in the building feel common and inferior. The 55-year-old is still completely ripped — no doubt explaining the enthusiasm of the substantial hot suburban mom demo in the audience — and his voice has maintained itself with remarkable agelessness.

The medley of “Voices Inside My Head” and “When The World Is Running Down, You Make The Best Of What’s Still Around” followed by “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” and “Driven To Tears” represented the low point of the show. It was a section of self-content adult-contempo that threatened to unravel the show’s early goodwill until all was corrected with the punkish “Truth Hits Everybody.”

That dynamic jolt was just what the audience and The Police needed to push the show from rote nostalgia into something more genuine. The next level fully hit when an elaborate percussion set, complete with giant gong, suddenly materialized for the start of “Wrapped Around Your Finger.” A wild-eyed Copeland managed to ratchet up his monomaniacal playing to even greater heights when he’d foray over to his more exotic kit.

A last quarter blast of hits “Invisible Sun,” “Walking In Your Footsteps,” “Can’t Stand Losing You” and a sprawled out jam of “Roxanne” sealed the deal. There was little of the much rumoured, much worried about jazz noodling, and lots of hits, which was just what the people wanted.

“King Of Pain,” “So Lonely” and “Every Breath You Take” represented the first encore. The playing of those tracks seemed a bit cursory, particularly on their big stalker hit and “Next To You,” which was something of an anti-climactic second encore closer. That said, The Police’s string of hits and technical competency retained an overall vibrancy rarely seen in the nostalgia/reunion/classic rock circuit. The result was a real and vital Police show still worthy of matching their legacy.

Here is the set list:

“Message In A Bottle”
“Synchronicity II”
“Walking On The Moon”
“Voices Inside My Head”
“When The World Is Running Down, You Make The Best Of What’s Still Around”
“Don’t Stand So Close To Me”
“Driven To Tears”
“Truth Hits Everybody”
“The Bed’s Too Big Without You”
“Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”
“Wrapped Around Your Finger”
“De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da”
“Invisible Sun”
“Walking In Your Footsteps”
“Can’t Stand Losing You”
“Roxanne”

Encore:
“King Of Pain”
“So Lonely”
“Every Breath You Take ”
“Next To You”

This review was originally published July 23, 2007 via Chart Communications.

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Polaris Podcast Explores The 2017 Longer List

Polaris Podcast EP7 was live from Ottawa.

Polaris Podcast EP7 was live from Ottawa.

Every year the Polaris Music Prize jury passionately support waaaay more albums than what happens to make the 40 album Long List or 10 album Short List. We call this the “Longer List” and we gathered jurors Francella Fiallos (CKDU), Dustin McGladrey (CFWE), Anupa Mistry (Vevo) and Jean-Étienne Sheehy (freelance journalist) to talk about some of the albums they recommended in 2017.

The Polaris Podcast is available in all the usual places — iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, etc — but you can listen to the full episode right this second via Soundcloud here:

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BrokeNCYDE Don’t Care They’re The World’s Most Hated Band

BrokenCYDE

BrokenCYDE

BrokeNCYDE (pronounced “broke inside,” just like their feelings) might only have a few years of crunkcore under their belts, but they’ve already generated more controversy and venom than most bands will receive over their entire careers.

Offended by the band’s antics and their music’s subject matter, parents have banded together and formed groups like Mothers Against BrokeNCYDE. Unimpressed by their unique blend of crunk and screamo and lyrics like “You make my peepee hard” and “Eenie meenie minni moe/So much bitches at our shows,” critics have called them everything from “fucking horrendous” (Metal Edge) to “a near perfect snapshot of everything that’s shit about this point in the culture” (Warren Ellis).

It’s almost impossible to exaggerate the level of antipathy that Se7en (vocals), Mikl (vocals), Phat J (synths, guitars) and Antz (“fog machine and lights”) have generated in their young lives.

Limp Bizkit were the butt of plenty of jokes and criticism in the ’90s and early aughts, but their cover of “Faith” at least inspired a dose of good will or benign apathy. Insane Clown Posse and their juggalos and juggalettes are often regarded as signs of a diseased society, but at least they bring greater recognition to Faygo pop.

Even if you multiplied the level of bile hurled at those two giants of questionable culture, you would probably fall short of the sheer hatred some (like Thrash Magazine‘s Jay Thrash, who wishes that he could go back in time like Superman and crush them at birth) are starting to feel for this band.

Now it’s time for Canada to lock up its daughters and music snobs, because BrokeNCYDE are coming to town in support of their brand new album I’m Not A Fan… But The Kids Like It!

With the rest of his crew boisterously on the hunt for porn in the background, Mikl (the man behind the less screamy, more Auto-Tuned vocals) took some time away from the good fight to get on the phone with CHARTattack and talk about the band’s detractors, their fans, moms and bitches.

CHARTattack: You’ve been the subject of some pretty heinous reviews. Do you care about what the critics think at all?
Mikl: We don’t care what people say at all.

Even when they speculate that your music is actually a joke? Does that bother you?
I don’t care what people have to say. None of us do. We do this for our fans. People are entitled to their own opinion and if that’s what they want to say, then cool. We really don’t care.

Do your fans care, though?
They stick up for us, they have our backs, you know? But, you know.

So, they start flame wars on the internet in your defence?
Yeah. They always protect us.

Were you aware that the name BrokeNCYDE has made it to the Urban Dictionary?
No.

It’s being defined as a synonym for “ear rape.”
That’s cool.

Yeah? You like that?
Not really, but it’s whatevs.

Now you do have some pretty naughty lyrics, and I just have to ask you: Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?
I don’t kiss my mom. That’s kind of weird.

Even on the cheek?
Even on the cheek.

Is your mom bothered by your lyrics at all?
No, my mom supports me in everything that I do. Like, she’s on my side, you know?

Do your songs really get you a lot of chicks?
Yeah, a lot of the guys. I have a girlfriend, so… it helps all of these other losers in the band.

So, do girls really fall for lines like, “You fucking bitch, come suck my dick?”
I don’t know. We’re just saying what people say. But yeah.

This interview was originally published October 13, 2009 via Chart Communications.

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Samaritan News 10 Pack: Gord Downie, Metallica, More

Gord Downie

Gord Downie

Below are some of the stories I wrote for charity-focused entertainment site Samaritanmag back in the fall.

Metallica Will Headline Huge Benefit Concert to Help San Francisco Area Residents Affected By Wildfires

David Foster Foundation’s 30th Miracle Gala Raises $10.2 Million In Vancouver

WATCH: Gord Downie Wanted to Protect Our Water

Dolly Parton Donates Money and Books for Hurricane Relief Efforts

Downie and Wenjack Families Thank Canada for Support

Midnight Oil To Perform Benefit Show To Support Oceans

NABSDay Launched To Support Advertising Industry People In Time Of Need

LISTEN: Miley Cyrus Sings Teddy Bears Picnic To Protect B.C. Grizzlies

Late Tom Petty Supported a Number of Causes and Charities

Bruno Mars Helps Send Students To Grammy Music Camp

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The Spirit Behind The Spirit Of John Concert

Spirit Of The West's John Mann

Spirit Of The West’s John Mann

In recent years a cast of high-profile Canadian musicians have been rallying around Spirit Of The West singer John Mann in the wake of his diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s Disease.

This past September these musicians gathered in Toronto for the Spirit Of John benefit concert.

I spoke to organizer/Chalk Circle singer Christ Tait about the event for Samaritanmag.

To read the story click here.

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Samaritan News 10 Pack: Paul Simon, Charles Bradley And More

Paul Simon

Paul Simon

Below is a collection of stories I wrote for music ‘n’ charity site Samaritanmag in late summer 2017:

Students From Pathways To Education Program To Attend Obama Speech

Fans of the Late Charles Bradley Asked to Donate to All-Stars Project and Music Unites

Beyoncé, Oprah, George Clooney, Many More To Be Part Of Hand In Hand Hurricane Harvey Benefit

Paul Simon and Edie Brickell Donate $1 Million USD To Hurricane Harvey Relief

People to Pets: 5 Ways To Help Hurricane Harvey Victims

Dolly Parton’s First-Ever Children’s Album Will Fund Free Children’s Books

Stars Using Upcoming Tour To Support Native Women’s Shelter Of Montreal

Muscular Dystrophy Association Chair Releases Statement About Death of Jerry Lewis

Loverboy Autographed Bass and Lyric Sheet Auction To End Before Weekend

Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready to Perform Star-Spangled Banner at September Seattle Mariners Game for Crohn’s Research

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Lupe Fiasco Gets Martial Arts TV Show

Lupe Fiasco

Lupe Fiasco

Martial arts and rap connections aren’t just the exclusive property of the Wu-Tang Clan.

Lupe Fiasco also happens to be an avid martial artist and that talent will be on display with his forthcoming series Beat n Path.

Sarah wrote about the show and Lupe’s martial arts background for Asian World Of Martial Arts.

To read the story go here.

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