With plans to head to Southern Ontario this past weekend, the last minute announcement of severe ice storms making their way to the province would not keep us away. It would impact a show on the following evening, which fortunately was postponed due to the conditions, but did not make an appearance in Ridgeway, ON until long after we had left town the next morning. With tickets in hand to a show at The Sanctuary (a venue that has quickly become another favorite of ours), an evening with Whitehorse was something that we did not want to miss.
Fulfilling the opening duties on this particular tour, Hamilton-based musician Dan Edmonds (of Harlan Pepper fame) would take to the stage, and provide us the opportunity to finally see him perform live. We absolutely loved his retro-sounding “Ladies On The Corner” album released in 2016, and while a little disappointed that he would not draw upon this material during his set, we very much enjoyed hearing brand new material for an up-coming release. With his trusty Fender Telecaster strapped across his shoulder, Dan would be accompanied by friends Jason Bhattacharya (drums) and Brad Germain (bass) for a 10-track set list. And while the new material shared little similarities to his previous solo works, the “urban-folk’ style of Dan’s previous endeavors certainly shone through.
With an announcement that he was very grateful for being asked to join Whitehorse for a string of shows, Dan also offered his gratitude to his parents, as they had not only lent him their car so that the trio could get all their gear to the show, but had also rented a car to attend the show too. With a cry of “Thanks Mom and Dad” from a member of the audience, Dan smiled and encouraged people to buy merchandise during the intermission to help pay for gas to get his parents back home. Light-hearted banter aside, when it came to the music, Dan was all business, and demonstrated not only his terrific versatility with the Telecaster, but offered some wonderful new tunes with his two equally talented friends on stage. Having no familiarity with the material, I did catch a few titles that were thrown out by Dan; notably “Beside You,” “Mezzanine” and “Two Thirds of a Fifth;” and everybody experienced the enthusiasm Dan had for these tracks and the opportunity to share them before they become commercially available.
Following the brief intermission, the duo of Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland (Whitehorse) were introduced to the stage; and promptly welcomed by a loud and lively reception from the sold out venue. Given that Whitehorse are still promoting their 2017 “Panther In The Dollhouse” album, the duo opted to draw up material from their entire back catalog for this particular night. Opening with the popular “Baby What’s Wrong,” Whitehorse would perform 15 tracks, before receiving a standing ovation that encouraged them back to the stage for an amazing encore number.
Of course, there would be tunes selected from the most recent album, including “Die Alone” and the popular radio-hit “Boys Like You;” which Melissa dedicated to “all the Harvey Weinstein’s out there!” Older cuts included “Achilles Desire” and “Devil’s Got A Gun” from “The Fate of the World Depends on this Kiss” album, along with “Sweet Disaster” and “Evangelina” from “Leave No Bridge Unburned.” The duo would forego their individual microphones midway through the set and stand center stage, sharing a solo microphone for both “Mismatched Eyes (Boat Song)” and “Tame As The Wild Ones.” Prior to performing these numbers, Luke recollected a time spent on a cruise ship with several alt-country musicians, and drew laughter from the tale of how they shared space with Lyle Lovett. Two mesmerized music fans in their own right, Luke stated that they simply watched Lyle eat breakfast on the boat, “because, well, it was Lyle Lovett!”
Having front row seats is always a great way to catch some of the moments of intimacy between the artists during their performance, and also some of the miscommunication or mishaps. From the slight grimace on Luke’s face when Melissa inadvertently stepped on his foot (hopefully not the recently sprained foot, as per his Twitter post), to Luke extending a guitar solo to provide Melissa some time to fix a cable connectivity issue with a bass guitar. Ever professional, no scream in pain from the foot incident, and no visible frustration from Melissa when that darn cable would not cooperate; the show was well polished and as musically perfect as it could be. Opting to close with their popular hit “Downtown,” Luke addressed the audience with the statement that Whitehorse remain committed to touring in the smaller towns and venues, rather than just playing in the larger cities. The crowd at The Sanctuary responded appropriately, and the show went out with a fantastic rendition of this song.
The Sanctuary may not boast the largest room, but the full house were loud enough to encourage Luke and Melissa back to the stage for one final number. Offering their gratitude once more to their opening act, the duo invited Dan Edmonds to jam with them during this encore number. After informing all about their appreciation for the music of Neil Young, Luke told the tale of how he had learned all of the Neil Young guitar parts to the Crosby-Stills-Nash-Young original track “Ohio.” Leading to the punchline about how he recently met Neil Young, he was left a little deflated when Neil mentioned to him just how much he loved his version of Stephen Stills’ solo pieces. Launching into “Ohio,” Whitehorse and Dan would turn a 3 minute song into an 8 minute epic, allowing both Luke and Dan to trade extensive guitar solos. Having been reminded all evening of Luke’s amazing guitar skills, simply witnessing him take a back-seat during this number to give Dan some of the spotlight proved to be truly as impressive.
Another wonderful live music came to an end, and Whitehorse once again left us thirsty for much more of their music. The on-stage chemistry of husband and wife always shines through, and this duo have really found their musical groove as Whitehorse. The earlier material still sounds as fresh as ever, while their recent work is a testament to their hard work and dedication to pushing beyond their own boundaries. Team GDW had an incredibly enjoyable evening “before the storm” in Ridgeway, and will no doubt cross paths with Whitehorse again soon for another night of live music.
- Baby What’s Wrong
- The One I Hurt
- Boys Like You
- Sweet Disaster
- Emerald Isle
- Achilles Desire
- Mismatched Eyes (Boat Song)
- Tame As The Wild Ones
- You Get Older
- Devil’s Got A Gun
- Die Alone
- Ohio (CSNY cover) – Featuring Dan Edmonds