Around this time last year I compiled 10 tracks that were experienced live that stood out for me personally and gave a stronger appreciation to a particular song/artist. Having seen many artists in a live setting again over the last 12 months, I wanted to repeat this exercise, and faced a tough challenge in selecting just 10 moments from the abundance of shows that we attended and enjoyed. This list could have easily run up to 30 tracks, but after much consideration, here are 10 memorable live moments from this year’s performances. These following 10 tracks are not in any particular order of preference, but in chronological order of our live concert dates.
Blue Rodeo: “You’re Everywhere” (Kitchener/February)
Sorry, but having seen one of our favorite bands on several occasions in 2017, Blue Rodeo could not escape the list. And while there are several possible moments to choose from, the one that stands out was during Greg Keelor’s performance of this song. Midway through the number, his hand-carved marionette ‘doppelganger’ would be lowered from the rafters to dance alongside him. Ever the showman, Keelor would embrace the moment and mimic the moves, dancing in unison with his much smaller counterpart to the delight of the packed out venue.
The Sadies: “Through Strange Eyes” (Toronto/March)
Another band that we were fortunate enough to see multiple times this year – it would be this track from their “Northern Passages” album release show that stood out for me. With our front row seats at The Royal Theatre, we experienced the lights, sounds and activities from the live recording that was taking place for this number. As our first live “music video” experience, this one automatically took its place on the list.
Joel & Bill Plaskett: “Help Me Somebody Depression Blues” (Hamilton/April)
Not only was this collaboration between father and son one of the best concert experiences this year, “Solidarity” is probably one of my favorite albums from 2017. Naturally it was very difficult to select just one track from this show, but this first number during the encore performance provided some comical banter as Joel (from behind the drum kit) schooled his father on his selection of instrument and pedals needed for the song. This truly was one of those ‘you had to be there’ moments.
Ron Hawkins: “Four O’Clock Stop” (Peterborough/April)
Performing one of his solo, more intimate gigs, Ron was incredibly kind to invite us to this show as his guests, and would perform two lengthy sets of music from across his entire back catalog. Honoring my request to perform this Lowest of the Low track, Ron knocked this one out of the park with just his vocals and acoustic guitar. With his rock star persona on stage, and his humble personality off it, Ron welcomed us with genuine enthusiasm and firmly cemented his place as one of our favorite artists.
Daniel Bélanger: “La Folie En Quatre” (Montréal/June)
Both halves of Team GDW had waited many years for the opportunity to catch Daniel Bélanger live, and his headlining show during Les Francofolies de Montréal proved to be completely worth the wait. After an amazing evening of music with his full band, for me, it would be his intimate solo encore and passion fueled version of this huge hit that stood out. A great tune from a very gifted performer that left us both wanting much, much more from him in the future.
AHI: “Ol’ Sweet Day” (London/July)
Not only a monumental moment, but if there was one artist that captivated our attention upon hearing just his first few lines, it would be AHI. With his ‘gravel on silk’ vocal delivery, AHI draws the listener into his world with natural ease. This pure soul music is written and performed from the heart, and once heard, is not easily forgotten. AHI demonstrated a great talent that absolutely has to be heard to be believed.
Jim Cuddy Family Band: “The Night That Pat Murphy Died” (Gravenhurst/August)
Headlining the inaugural Sawdust City Music Festival, the Jim Cuddy Family Band would invite Miranda Mulholland to perform this cover version of the popular Great Big Sea tune. Sam Polley would politely ask the crowd to stand up for this song, with little effect as most remained seated. Taking his cue, Jim Cuddy stepped forward to inform both Sam and the crowed that “You have to work it just like [Alan] Doyle” – and promptly hollered “Come on, get up, get on yer feet, get on yer feet,” mimicking the voice and body language of Doyle to perfection.
Melanie Brulée: “Ces Bottes Sont Faites Pour Marcher” (Gravenhurst/August)
The great advantage of summer festivals is the opportunity to encounter new artists previously unknown to us, and with this Anglo-Franco version of the popular Nancy Sinatra hit, Melanie would wow everybody with her guitar heavy ‘alt-country’ twang. With her charismatic stage presence and high energy level, Melanie Brulée now has our full attention and we look forward to new material from her that is scheduled for release in early 2018.
The Julian Taylor Band: “Do You Remember” (Hamilton/October)
Another artist that we discovered this year thanks to the diversity of music festivals, Toronto’s Julian Taylor brought his rock-soul-reggae inspired grooves to Mills Hardware for an unforgettable night. This track is the perfect example of an amazing soul tune – great riffs, a dominant bass line, some sweet saxophone, and of course, some perfectly delivered vocals from Taylor. It is impossible to remain still while listening to this one.
Ken Yates: “Leave Me The Light On” (Vienna/November)
We had the good fortune of seeing Ken Yates perform twice in 2017, and as the first artist that we had the pleasure to interview for this blog, we remain ever grateful and enjoy the opportunity to see him share his well-crafted songs. With his recent engagement, the tale of his ‘portage’ that preceded this track was both comical and heart-warming; two of the traits that perfectly portray the honest and down-to-earth personality that Yates offers night after night. If you are unfamiliar with the music of Ken Yates, we strongly recommend that you seek out his music and share in such delights.