June 5, 2011
At one moment Saturday night, Sam Roberts paused to tell his audience he wasn’t quite sure how he ended up headlining at Massey Hall. For those who’ve followed his career, the answer’s easy. Oftentimes, hard work is what separates musicians who make it to prominence and those who miss out. Roberts earned his milestone two-show stint with lots of effort along the way and hard work is going to get him more big nights ahead.
To see how far the rocker from Montreal has come since the independently released “The Inhuman Condition” in 2001, you just have to attend one of his concerts. From “Brother Down” to “Them Kids,” Roberts in the past decade has churned out memorable song after memorable song, and the casual fan may not quite realize how prodigious he’s been until he pulls out his hits one by one, enough to fill a setlist (or playlist at 102.7 FM).
His delivery is likewise relentless. Roberts rarely took a breather on stage and looked fresh enough at the end of the show to go another hour or two. While his voice may sound a bit like Tom Cochrane and he and his band have a touch of The Police and The Kinks in them, Roberts is clearly cut from the Bruce Springsteen school of workyourbuttofftilyoudrop.
Highlights included “Brother Down,” of course, and a slow, bluesy version of “Hard Road.” Best of all for Roberts is how seamlessly the songs from the newly released “Collider” fit in with the rest of set. Opener “Streets Of Heaven (Promises, Promises),” the danceable “Graveyard Shift” and the first single “I Feel You” all pleased the fans, many of whom were shaking and singing from start to finish.
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April 17, 2011
Fans jam into Sonic Boom on Record Store Day as Zeus gets ready to take the stage.
Saturday marked the fourth annual Record Store Day and, fittingly, Toronto band Zeus was in town to celebrate. All these guys do is turn out vinyl — oh, and put on a really great show.
They were among the musicians who treated fans to songs in the lower level of Sonic Boom Records, one of the more than 700 independent record stores in North America celebrating the “art of music.” Not only was the music free, so was the pizza. A great touch by Sonic Boom, a Bloor West shop that’s a real treasure for our city and a draw for young music fans.
For Zeus fans, the show featured a few new songs, including the bluesy, Double Fantasy-esque “Hello, Tender Love” sung by Neil Quin. The band heads to Europe for some shows before opening a few gigs for the Sam Roberts Band, including at Massey Hall on June 3 and 4.
Among the other eight acts who performed were the Wooden Sky and Bidini Band.
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March 11, 2011
It’s happening again.
The groundswell of support that’s lifted Arts & Crafts’ artists like Stars and Broken Social Scene to wide recognition in Canada and elsewhere has surrounded Toronto band Zeus.
Nina Gandolfo waited at the front of the Horseshoe Tavern stage all night Thursday to see her favourite band, which didn’t begin its set until 12:20 a.m. “The best band ever” and “they’re like the Beatles” and “they care so much about the music, there’s such warmth in it” were among Nina’s words of worship. She’s clearly the leader of the Zeusbolts (every great band needs a name for its followers; other contenders: Zeusters, Zeusheads, Zeusies). They are mostly twenty-something artsy types with sharp enough ears to realize they must turn off the radio in order to find good music.
On Day 2 of this year’s Canadian Music Fest, the Z-bolts sang and danced joyously to every song, and added the kind of energy that’s needed for a terrific show. Zeus have won over a number of critics, both locally and abroad. Their sound is rich and their musicianship worthy of their fans’ effusive praise. A cover of “That’s All” by Genesis was one highlight from this quartet that includes drummer Rob Drake and a trio of frontmen: Carlin Nicholson, Mike O’Brien and Neil Quin.
Formed a couple of years ago, Zeus has members who’ve backed up Jason Collett on nationwide tours. The band plays in Toronto a lot, so there’s ample opportunity to see them in small venues, for now.
Elsewhere on Thursday night, Billy the Kid, aka Kristen Pettinger, from Vancouver wowed fans at the Dakota Tavern. Canada has turned out many excellent female singer/songwriters in the past 10 years or so and Billy the Kid seems poised to join the ranks of Kathleen Edwards, Julie Doiron and Sarah Harmer with her melodious tunes.
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