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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Out at Queen and Yonge

Last night I was out and about to go to a concert with my very sister-friend Miss Martha, and I found myself in a neighbourhood that I've not got much fondness for these days. Scoring tickets for the Canadian band Arcade Fire at Massey Hall, I found myself standing in an early evening drizzle at Queen and Yonge, here in Toronto. Across the street, St. Michael's Hospital loomed over me; a cold stare that is not unfamiliar to me.

I like Massey Hall. First of all, no one's died there as much as I can check (I did), at least not on a regular basis. It's old and lived in. Dizzy, and Robert, Mitchell, Young, and countless other musicians have practiced there; the Dali Llama and Winston Churchill have left butterfly wings of patter in the sound soaked hall. I have never suffered rock volume ear damage, and from the majority of seats you can see the stage effortlessly -- front row left of center: even better! So it's not Massey Hall's fault it is located where it is, and it's not like I so hate the area that I never go down there. I go down there for reasons I don't like, going for a concert is easy, now. But it's still odd to be standing right there: it's like seeing myself in a shadow or revisiting the scene of a crime, that I was innocent of committing, after having served time.

I feel the pull of it in my body, as if I am mis-located, and it still feels odd to be standing at all. This time last year, a wheelchair painfully banged me around. I couldn't have sat through a concert, not even a private concert with a line up for just me and all of my friends. What's worse is, back then, I would not have wanted to.

(O.k., so here's the line-up: All my friends, and anyone else who's up for the party; AND, Dave Matthews Band (DMB), Tori Amos, David Bowie, Cindy Lauper, The Tragically Hip, Elton John, Annie Lennox, Robert Plant with Jimmy Page, Joni Mitchell, Peter Gabriel with Phil Collins -- I cannot believe I am not seeing Genesis this summer!-- and of course a few surprise performers (Including a couple from Matt's fantasy line-up). Food and libations; it starts early and goes all night long...) *Oh, who am I kidding, isn't this just the kind of thing pain killers are for?

Not even for this could I have gotten out for a year ago without a toll. So last night I found myself standing there waiting to go inside with St. Mike's Hospital insinuating itself into my periphery, and feeling how recently I stepped away from another chalk outline.

-Breath -

These flashes of reality strike me as unexpectedly as a lighting hit with out the thunderstorm. As much as my experiences are past they are me, and at times I will flash to a scene, with utter and shuddering sensations, of where I once was. Sometimes these feelings pass as they did last night -- for a draft I feel myself as I was, they way you feel a damp leaf that sticks on your face on a windy day. A shake of the head and it is gone. My breezy thoughts were not so strong last night, nor were the gale force headwind of persistent memory that takes me hours, or days, to walk out of.

I hate St Mike's the way some hate another for their cruelty and indifference, irrationally, for it's a looming shadow in my life.

As for the concert...

I don't know Arcade Fire's music very well, but my, my, my! What a talented bunch! A group of 10 (Although their site only shows 8, their touring band is larger. TY Wiki*) The musicians trade instruments around like they're sampling sounds. Epic! They are reminiscent of The Talking Heads, ELO, and the classical-rock fusion of my youth, surrounded by today's amazing production values.

Their song "Wake Up" is an anthem from time immemorial, as powerful a message today as it will always be. An excellent youtube version, a jam with one of my listed above:

"With my lighnin’ bolts a glowin’
I can see where I am goin’
With my lighnin’ bolts a glowin’
I can see where I am go-goin’" - Arcade Fire, Wake Up, Funeral, 2004
(Seriously-- pure coincidence. I found this after I blogged. Cool.)

My only curiosity was the way the show was primarily lit. The one exception was the lighting for a song that's name I do not recall (Did I say I don't know this band very well yet?), which matched white spots to it's beautifully laid-out stage platforms and a massive Chinese red curtain. Several microphone stands fronted the stage and each stand shaft was lit with a tube of LED lighting. For the first song they, too, were red and the performers upon the stage looked like they were lit flashlight spots. Even though microphone stands changed colours throughout the performance, they seemed to me a visual barrier. It was disconcerting (Ha!). Why put up a wall? To give the band's concept it's due consideration, perhaps the point was to listen; the problem was that there was just so much to see! I finally got up and danced the encores, trying not to pinwheel off -- don't want to be trippy in the first row balcony -- saving the little dance I have in me as I would a favourite bite on my plate.

I've been checking out Arcade Fire today, hmm, maybe I should have done more of that before the show. Yesterday I just went hunting for their tunes; it was a last minute thing after all. I'm no expert on band sites, but I must say, if you are a fan of the band or just a inspired by the creativity available on the net now, or just to see how well web design can be done, check out their site; they so have interactive down! (hint, move your cursor around and play...)

The show could have been longer, the company could not have been better, and the evening was over in it's due time, as all things are.

I walked out into a breezeless drizzle music still ringing in my ears; the neural snapshots from the concert editing through the freeze frames of my time at St Mike's, the chalk lines washed away in the rain, over toward Yonge street and up to Dundas Square.

1 comment:

mathesond said...

I love the rain - it washes memories from the sidewalk of life