Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Danny Michel, live at the Arden Theatre

Andrew and I first heard about Danny Michel a couple of years ago when he toured with Stuart Mclean's Vinyl Cafe Christmas Show. He only played two songs (one being Tennessee Tobacco--which I love), but I (and I assume Andrew too) were impressed. He's also from Kitchener, Ontario, which helped in endearing himself to us as Kitchener-ites living in Edmonton. Unfortunately, I didn't ever get around to buying any of his CDs, although I frequently thought I should. When the CBC changed the programming format I started to hear more of Danny and I'm always happy to hear his stuff on the radio. Therefore, when I discovered he was playing a show in St. Albert (I can't even remember now how I found out), I was excited and immediately asked Andrew if he wanted to go. He did.

Before the show on Friday (Sept 25th) we'd hoped to dine (pig-out) at one of the local Ukrainian church's perogy dinners, unfortunately the line-up was huge, and we arrived too late to wait it out. Instead we drove to St. Albert and ended up eating at a Ric's Grill, which was okay, but not spectacular by any means (we'd never been to St. Albert's before and didn't know where things were so we went with what was close by the theatre). We went directly from dinner to the show; however, found ourselves sitting through what must have been 15 minutes of promos for the Arden Theatre's upcoming season. I understand that it's a relatively small theatre/city and so they really need to push the shows scheduled for the year, but it was a bit annoying to sit through. I felt like it pushed a little beyond "wetting the appetite with anticipation" and into "your annoying the hell out of me, just get to it" territory.

At any rate, after the promotional talk and the promotional video, Danny came out. It was just him and his guitar, no back up or anything. He strode out onto the stage with a mug (presumably of water...but one never knows) and a sheet of paper with his set list, and got down to it. Danny's a highly entertaining performer. It's sort of like he's had 10 extra-strength cups of coffee before hand, as he constantly strums at his guitar as he talks to the audience in between songs, and while he's playing he tends to dance around, stand tall and crouch down low as he plays depending on the dynamics of the music. Danny told us numerous stories throughout the evening, prefacing songs with explanations of how they came to be (which at least I find interesting). Of particular interest was the explanation surrounding the song Whale of a Tale, written after meeting a guy in a bar (in Kitchener) who had "done everything." The song was rather hilarious on its own, but shortly after beginning Danny forgot the order of the lyrics, had to stop, and someone from the audience shouted out the forgotten lines. Awesome.

Throughout the concert Danny performed a mixture of his older music (many of which I recognized from the radio) and stuff from his new album, Sunset Sea. As I mentioned before, it was just Danny, all by himself, so in order to fill in the gaps normally taken care of by a band, he used a recording machine controlled by a foot pedal. I saw this technique first used by Owen Pallett, also at a Stuart McLean concert. The artist plays a few bars into their recorder then they can loop the track throughout their performance to make it sound as though they're being accompanied by another musician. It's possible to record multiple tracks and have them played back simultaneous, but I'm not sure how many are can be run at one time. After the show Danny came out for a bit and talked with audience members who were still mulling about. We got the CD we purchased autographed.

A good night all-in-all. We even got home at reasonable hour, which was a blessing since we had our last major training run before the marathon to attend to the next day.



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