Monday, February 28th, 2005

Poor Boy, Minor Key

It’s always risky going to a show when the artist has a new record to push and you don’t have that record. If they draw heavily from the newer material, will hearing mostly unfamiliar songs diminish one’s enjoyment of the show? That did weigh on my mind a bit last night when I went to see M Ward at the ElMo. I had yet to pick up Transistor Radio and had only listened to the stream at Merge once. But cut me some slack – it only came out last week. I haven’t had time to make it to the record store. Anyway.

Taking the stage in an unassuming brown shirt and wool cap, and considerably younger looking than I’d expected, Ward immediately tore into a frenzied acoustic instrumental (sounded familiar but I couldn’t pick out the name), leaving most of the audience’s jaws on the floor – what a way to start things off. The next hour and fifteen minutes were spent with Ward’s warm, raspy voice and virtuoso fingerpicked acoustic guitar (as well as some piano) while playing material from both Transfiguration Of Vincent and the new Transistor Radio. Scattered amongst the originals were covers of Joanna Newsom, David Bowie, Daniel Johnston, and The Beach Boys, done so uniquely in Ward’s folk/country style that if you didn’t know better, you’d swear they were his own compositions (though he did fess up to which ones weren’t his before starting). With the assistance of a looper pedal, his single acoustic guitar became almost a full band as Ward layered the various parts needed to recreate the arrangements of the albums – the result was nothing short of spectacular.

This show turned out to be part of a warm-up mini tour – Ward promised to be back in the next couple months with a full band, likely Norfolk & Western, whom I’d actually expected to be opening this show up. I have to wonder if Ward with a full band would be as impressive as him solo? I guess there’s only one way to find out, and if the ensemble experience is anywhere near as good as the one-man act, it’ll definitely be worth seeing. Only downside to this show was no merch – I guess I’ll have to get my copy of Transistor Radio the old retail way. Oh yeah, photos.

Kathleen Edwards will be at the Mod Club on April 7 for Back To Me, out tomorrow. Jason Collett supports. Tickets are $17 and appear to only be available through Maple Music.

Trashcan Sinatras are at Lee’s Palace on April 28. Lee’s Palace has new doors. Just thought I’d mention that. Info on the show from For The Records. As for the new doors, I saw them myself.

The first new House Of Love album in twelve years is out today. North Americans who don’t want to pay the import prices (that’s $28 CDN at, if you were wondering), I direct you to the good folks at Ten pounds for the album, postpaid anywhere in the world – whatta deal. I’ve dealt with them before and they’ve always been terrific. I don’t expect Days Run Away to get a domestic release, so this is probably my – and your – best bet.

np – The Chameleons / Strange Times

By : Frank Yang at 8:37 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. shaunanananananananana says:

    i considered going to m. ward last night, but with funds lacking and no shortage of potent chron in my system, i opted for the oscars instead. meh. those new doors at lee’s were v. v. confusing, but makes shit easier to sneak around when jumping from dance cave to lee’s.

    i don’t know if you’re super into k. edwards, or what, but they’re showing that live at rehearsal hall thing i went to back in november on bravo march 15 at 8. word.

  2. rebecca says:

    what joanna newsom song did he cover?


  3. tim j says:

    such a fucking great show.

    he covered sadie and just killed it. so good. so so good.

    i brought my mom! and she loved it!

  4. bozairzere says:

    i’m wondering what beach boys tune he did,

    and "strange times" rules!!!

  5. bozairzere says:

    ps the karen ann gig is gonna rule!! get there early frank!!

  6. Frank says:

    he played "You STill Believe In Me", which is also the first track on Transistor Radio. It’s done instrumentally and is just beautiful.

  7. rebecca says:

    are there any mp3s of his sadie cover floating round?

  8. brads says:

    Thanks for the HoL/cdwow tip, Frank. Just ordered my copy.