Review by Kevin Nguyen. Check out the setlist.
Photos by Mario Georgiou
Toronto, Canada - There are things that are constant from show to show, especially a Cranes show, where the setlist doesn't vary much. The dynamic elements are the interaction between the audience and the bands and the people you meet.
Tuuli, the band of the famed JennE, opened for the Cranes along with Rasputina. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to catch Tuuli but Rasputina were just as great as when I saw them in DC. I was disappointed that they didn't stock more of their CD's at the T-shirt booth though. At both Toronto and DC, they sold out before the end of the night.
The Cranes were unfortunately plagued with technical problems from the start. Whoever was at the mixing board couldn't seem to get the levels right. Alison's vocals completely disappeared for the first half of Breeze but you could still see poor Ali trying to project the words without amplification. Co-ordination between guitars and drums was a problem for the start of Angel Bell and buzzing patch cords and feedback were annoyances in a few other songs.
But believe it or not, through all the technical problems the Cranes were still able to play a great show for a forgiving and enthusiastic audience. The light show was the best I've ever seen for a Cranes concert (I've been to 3 total). The disco ball that danced star fields around the band, as they performed their more ethereal songs such as Tangled up and Adoration, was especially effective. It was apparent that the audience was much more appreciative of the band's older material. Although the crowd was enthusiastic throughout the show, the cheering doubled in intensity at the end of songs such as Far Away, Jewel, Everywhere, Adoration and Lilies in comparison to anything they played from the poppy "Population 4" album.
Manu tossed a total of 3 drumsticks into the audience, but unfortunately, none in my direction.
Mark was being distracted throughout the show. Shouts of "Mark we love you" and "Mark I want to have your baby" made the audience laugh. Towards the end of the show a black-haired girl at the front of the stage was saying something to Mark. During the encore of Lilies she jumped on stage and decided to dance for everyone. Alison glanced to her left with a "what the --?" expression on her face but maintained her singing. As security crept in from the side to haul her away you could see Mark nodding the security away, signaling that it was okay. The girl descended the stage at the end of the song (thankfully) and the band continued on with Adoration.
Starblood was phenomenal with parts where Alison projected her voice so strongly that it wouldn't have mattered if the mic cut out at that point or not. Mark gave a great performance also as he slid a huge metal wrench up and down the strings and then repeatedly struck the duct-taped body to sustain the notes. They couldn't have ended with a better song.
After the concert I hung around to meet the band and fortunately I got my chance. Mark immediately came out after the show, got a beer and a smoke and hung around on the venue floor. Two girls (one being the Lilies dancer) made quite a production of themselves and were trying to invite Mark back to some place at Bloor and Bathurst. Mark kept calling it Blur and Bath-Hearst and declined. There were a lot of people getting these white paper plates signed by Mark and I'm not too sure what those were about. Another person tried to get Mark's stage towel signed. Marked looked quizzically at him but obliged. After that the Lilies-dancer girl tried to get Mark to sign her right breast. Mark tastefully declined again. He did sign my Wings of Joy cover though.
I met Jim, JennE and co. at the T-shirt table where I spent $1 on a Cranes postcard. Jim was enjoying a Labatt Ice beer and a smoke but I decided to disturb him anyway for an autograph. I overheard him telling present company that he was anxious to go out and get away from "the band". I mentioned that I was at the DC show he groaned in shame about the technical problems in Toronto. I asked him if he wanted to add any words to the Toronto web review I would be writing up. He took my Wings of Joy cover wrote something on the front and handed it back. I looked down at it and questioned, "Soup???". He smiled, shrugged and went back to his beer and friends. For two days I pondered over the philosophical meaning behind the word "Soup" and today, after taking a close look (in proper lighting) I realize the scribble could very well be "Sorry". Sorry or soup, they both sum up the concert, technically, from Jim's point of view.
Manu was sitting on stage in deep conversation with someone in a gray trench coat. I decided not to approach him since it would be inappropriate to get him to sign an album he didn't contribute too. My priorities were on finding Alison. A fellow in a long black trench coat and longer black hair ventured out the back door to the tour bus. About four others (including myself) followed suit and trickled out the back. We found Alison at the bottom step of the bus chatting with a couple of fans. I asked her to sign my album and she sweetly obliged signing it "Ali XX". I talked to her about the DC show and how I met my girlfriend through a shared interest in the Cranes. A girl commented on how pretty she looked and she blushed and giggled like a schoolgirl. Someone offered her a cigarette but she declined. She waved goodbye to the small crowd and as quickly as I met her she disappeared into the bus and into the night.
Overall, it was another great Cranes experience.
Thanks to that girl in orange to the right of the stage that offered to switch spots with me when she saw that I had trouble stealing photographs. Thanks to the guy that lent me his blue marker so that I could get my Wings of Joy cover signed. Thanks to the friend that patiently waited for me as I sought out my autographs. Apologies to the long-haired blond guy that I kept on flashing with my camera. Hello to the girl who liked my shirt and managed to get Alison's wine cup and water bottle. And hello to Kristin... wish you were there.