THE WEAKERTHANS + The Constantines + guests @ Cabaret

By Mikaela - Lessons in Lo-Fi - 03/30/2005

I’ll begin by stating that due to unforeseen circumstances -- as in, I didn’t feel like going -- I missed the first two opening bands for the Constantines/Weakerthans show. I can only comment on their participation in the after-show sing-along, which I shall do later.

Moving along, this was my fourth time seeing the Guelph natives, the Constantines, and each live show surpasses the last one. With a new album slated for a post-summer release, the band pulled out a couple of new songs and then peppered the rest of the set with old favorites. Highlights included “Nighttime Anytime” and Shine A Light’s breakout track “On to You”, which they dedicated to touring mates, the Weakerthans. However, while listening to these classic rock gems, I took a look at the massive crowd around me and came to the conclusion that despite the band’s blue-collar leanings, the Constantines really are a band for lovers. I had to crane to see the stage as a large number of couples made out to “Young Offenders” -- Can I get a witness? What? -- Despite my sudden lack of a view, I still managed to catch a glimpse of leading Constantine Bry Webb as he climbed an amp and stood on the ledge of the second floor balcony, prompting a very hearty clap-along; he even played a little guitar up there. Always energetic and always ready to rock, the band made me rethink blue dress shirts all over again.

As for the evening’s main attraction, the Weakerthans continue to attract a large and varied crowd with each Montreal appearance. Certainly, the three fortysomething balding men in front of me playing the air guitar, air drums and what can only be construed as the air saxophone got their money’s worth. The band powered through material from their three full-lengths and also premiered material from their forthcoming album, which is "nowhere near to being ready". Where in the past I have suggested that John K. Samson might be better as a solo act, Wednesday night’s show demonstrated what the band is capable of when they’re on. That being said, the highlight of their set occurred during their encore, when a solo John K. sang Reconstruction Site’s “One Great City” with only his guitar as accompaniment. The band rounded off their encore by inviting members of the Constantines and the two opening bands on stage. In the midst of a cheering crowd, John K. said: “There are only two rules on this tour: 1) mumble, mumble -- something about mushrooms -- and 2) that no one laughs at this song”. They then proceeded to launch into a mighty fine rendition of the Traveling Wilburys’ “The End of the Line”. For those of us old enough to recognize this song, it was an apt finale for an otherwise flawless night.

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