Monday, September 18, 2006

Concert: The Weakerthans, September 16, 2006

John K. Samson photo by Chris Douglas (Chris' photo gallery)

Arguably Winnipeg's most popular band, I had not seen the Weakerthans before, but I am glad I did. These guys clearly have several solid songs, with some being quiet and introspective while others being all out rockers. The commonality between the songs would have to be their melodic nature, the effort put into the lyrics and the singing style of main songwriter and frontman John K. Samson. Samson, who looked not unlike a young Neil Finn (Split Enz) sings without resorting to screaming. Guitarist Stephen Carroll looked a bit like Hugh MacFadyen, the new leader of the Manitoba Tories. There was one thing that I didn't expect from such a credible indie rock band - the rock star posing, which was sometimes somewhat choreographed. It just seemed out of place. Carrol and bassist Greg Smith must be in top physical form as they ran around their areas of the stage a fair bit, with Smith traveling in dizzying circles like a dervish. They opened the show with number than featured Carroll on pedal steel, something he played a couple of times in the show. Thanksfully, Samson didn't play up on the band's popularity with the usual sing-alongs and other audience-participatig games. They didn't have to do anything extra to keep the electricity flowing in the air. The band played two encores with Samson playing a couple of tunes on his own, including "One Great City" from 2004's Reconstuction Site, their third album, which features the chorus "I Hate Winnipeg."

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The Burton Cummings Theatre was just 70 tickets short of a sellout, with about 1550 fans in attendence. Most of the fans appeared to be in their early twenties. The opening act was the George Reznik Trio. Reznik is a fixture in the local jazz scene and the trio received warm applause during their soloing. These guys were so good that I would have purchased a recording of the show, if one was available. Reznik briefly did an impression of Louis Armstrong and threatened to sing, much to the laughter of the audience.

The Weakerthans actually had a song included on the soundtrack to last year's Fantastic Four movie, the rocking "Aside" from Left and Leaning.

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The show was partly a fundraiser, but I didn't notice the special t-shirts they were supposed to have on sale, according to their website.

"A Cause Because: $2 from every ticket sold for this concert will be donated to: R.A.Y. (Resource Assistance for Youth) R.A.Y is an organization based in Winnipeg whose focus is helping street youth by providing them with what they need, on their terms, to better their lives. This help comes in many forms, and is always non judgmental and inclusive. RAY is an invaluable support network for youth living through crisis. Currently RAY are facing a crisis of their own. They are in need of new premises from which to operate. Also, Ticketmaster will be donating 25 cents per ticket from their fees to RAY. We are hoping that by helping to raise awareness for RAY, we can help find and fund a new home for RAY. For more information or to make a further donation please visit:

An Ongoing Donation: At this concert The Weakerthans will be launching a special edition T shirt from which all proceeds will be donated to RAY. This T shirt will be available for sale at the concert as well as at local stores this fall. It will be made for sale internationally next spring through Lifetime clothing."

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