Saturday, February 12, 2011

Dan Mangan w/ Hannah Georgas, The Zolas and David Vertesi @ Massey Theatre -- 02/11/11

Last night was a benefit concert that featured probably the single best lineup of artists I have seen in quite some time. Each of the four acts I would, without hesitation, go see individually, so to have them all put together was pretty great.
The show was for 65_RedRoses, helping raise funds for Cystic Fibrosis. In between sets there were speakers out to talk about Eva Markvoort, the movie, and to inform those at the show about CF and being an organ donor.

We were a few minutes late, so missed the first couple songs from David Vertesi. He was on stage alone, but we caught him in time to introduce the other member of the band that night: his trusty keytar. Both that and the opening lines of "Gentlemen Say" got some laughs & applause. He also played a Hey Ocean! tune, "Jolene", and "Mountainside" brought his set to a close. Even solo, he was smooth as ever on stage, and judging by the reaction, I wouldn't be surprised if he gained more than a few new fans after the show.
I was slightly disappointed, though, that Hannah Georgas didn't pop out to do backup on the songs she sang for on the album, but wasn't really expecting it to happen, it just would have been a nice bonus.

I had never seen The Zolas in a soft seat theatre type venue, so it was pretty interesting to see them in that setting. In fact same could be said about the first three acts of the night.
They kicking off their set with the new(ish) song "Guest", and were their usual high energy selves -- especially Zach, jumping around the stage, singing the end bit of "Marlena Kamikaze" to Tom, and generally being a ball of energy. Midway through the set, Zach mused on how strange it was to have the crowd not chatting while the band was playing, and jokingly encouraging everyone to yell over them -- but missed a golden opportunity by not playing "No Talking" next. "Cab Driver" was as dynamic as always, and they played another new song, "Strange Girl" before finishing it off with "You're Too Cool". Interestingly enough, this is probably the first time I've seen them play where they did not start with that song, and end with "Cab Driver".

Not counting One Night Stands and Malahats, it had been way too long since the last time I saw Hannah Georgas, so I think I was most excited to see her set that night. She was backed buy her usual accomplice Robbie Driscoll, as well as Andrew Braun of Rococode and the set started off with "All I Need" -- which is a great opener, starting soft and building to an intense climax. From there she mostly played off of This Is Good, going from the high energy "Chit Chat" to soft and contemplative "Lovers Breakdown" to the almost haunting "Thick Skin", showing off the range of her songwriting, and vocal talents. She is also completely at home on stage, with the words just flowing out of her effortlessly.
I guess it was because they had so much to get through in the evening, Hannah's set was only about half an hour, meaning there were a few songs I would have liked to hear that weren't played. So while it was still a great set, it kind of made me want to see her live again even more.

And finally -- after an intermission and the short film A Wish Where The Wind Once Blew -- Dan Mangan was up. He started on stage alone, with an older song, "Unnatural Progression", before the full band was out for "Sold". And they were out in fine form, with drummer Kenton Loewen and guitarist Gord Grdina taking over Veda Hille's part in "The Indie Queens Are Waiting", even with the appropriate falsetto. Dan was joking around a few times too, bantering with the fans, sometimes even during a song. I think I've said it before, but his stage manner reminds me of Joel Plaskett; the effortless transitions between talking, joking, stories and songs.
There were a few new songs in the set as well, one called (I think) "Post War Blues" and "Rows of Houses" (re-titled "Rose of Houses" for the night). Both of which were a bit more punched-up, and if they are any indication of the new album, I am very intrigued.
After an emotionally charged "Basket", the set came to an end with "Robots" and the usual sing-along, with Dan inviting everyone from the opening bands and 65 Red Roses out on stage.

I kind of wish they had a bit more time for the night, as any curfewed show with four acts is bound to be rushed, but it was still an excellent assortment of local talent out to support a good cause.

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