Kiefer Sutherland Band ‘Kills It’

You think Jack Bauer is the biggest badass around? Think again, because you obviously haven’t seen the Kiefer Sutherland Band.

Throw in a mix of some gritty country-rock  music, a solid supporting cast of talented bandmates (Austin Vallejo and Michael Gurley on guitar, Joseph De La O on bass, Jess Calcaterra on drums) and an intimate concert venue and you have all the ingredients for a memorable night on the town.

I don’t think Sutherland would have it any other way. At least that appeared to be the case judging by the reaction of 700 plus patrons last night as they thoroughly savoured and soaked up every drop of Sutherland’s Not Enough Whiskey tour performance at Maxwell’s in Waterloo.

In his self-depricating manner, Sutherland introduced the band by stating that they had things a little “ass backwards” and admitted upfront that “a band usually puts out an album first and then does the tour.” So he graciously thanked everyone (multiple times) for their leap-of-faith in coming out to see the band without first hearing its 13 songs.

Kiefer at Maxwells

Kiefer Sutherland and his band performing at Maxwell’s in Waterloo last night.

To be clear, Sutherland is not going to challenge any of the current reigning music stars in the vocal category. Though it’s evident his low, raspy  ‘whiskey-soaked’ voice still gets it done. And what he lacks in vocal range, he more than makes up for with his frenetic leaping around the stage while playing his Gibson acoustic and Fender electric guitars with a gusto that even his doppleganger (Jack Bauer) would envy.

And the man writes his own songs (along with collaborator Jude Cole). From My Best Friend (A thoughtful reflection on how one has to ‘be their own best friend’ before expecting love / friendship from another) to the semi-autobiographical Down In A Hole (How people’s choices sometimes land them in trouble). Sutherland observed that, though never landing up in prison, he had seen the inside of a jail a few times.

At one point in the evening Sutherland shared a poignant story and song (Gonna Die) about a young American Iraq war veteran whom he stumbled upon in a confrontation with bouncers outside of a Los Angeles bar. The veteran was scared and explained to him that the hospital staff mistakenly gave him the wrong prescription medication.

Eventually, Sutherland was able to convince the bouncers to leave the young man alone and then took him back to the Veteran’s hospital where they admitted to the mix-up. The experience haunted Sutherland for weeks afterwards and inspired him to write Gonna Die.

Jack Bauer was the main reason the majority of the crowd showed up last night, but it was clearly the ‘real Bauer’ (Kiefer Sutherland) and his bandmates who, undoubtedly, left them begging for more.

P.S. – Opening for the Kiefer Sutherland Band was a brilliantly talented singer/songwriter by the name of Jessica Mitchell. Her voice was pure magic! Check her out at –
jessicamitchellmusic.com

Related Websites:

Kiefer Sutherland Music

Photo Credit: Michael G. Redfearn

 

 

 

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Fleetwood Mac: Lightning strikes ACC twice

Well, lightning strikes, maybe once, maybe twice
Ah, and it lights up the night
And you see your gypsy . . .
To the gypsy that remains faces freedom with a little fear
I have no fear, I have only love . . .

Excerpt from Gypsy by Stevie Nicks

By Michael G. Redfearn

If great artists are judged by their ability to inspire and evoke deep feelings of joy, pathos and divine despair, then Fleetwood Mac painted another masterpiece yesterday evening at the Air Canada Center in Toronto.

Only six months after elecrifying a packed house of largely aging boomers back in October – the suprisingly well-preserved 70’s folk-rock demigods thundered and gingerly (given their advanced years) pranced and strutted across the stage.

Fleetwood Mac

As in October (same set list, same songs) though a timeless pantheon of hits that most fans and critics believe reached its apex with their montrously successful 1977 studio album Rumours. And who could really blame them for not giving their faithful throngs of followers exactly what they want?

Heaven knows, the fab five (Mick Fleetwood, John and Christine McVie, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham) have paid their dues and then some. The Mac pack have endured enough heartache and struggle to last many lifetimes. Their personal battles with each other and life-threatening addictions to cocaine and alcohol are legendary.

But great pain and suffering sometimes yield extraordinary work and the sheer volume of stellar music generated by the late 70’s and its remarkable longevity, is testament to the band’s creative spirit. At a point well into last night’s show – Buckingham stated,  “I think it’s safe to say we’ve seen our share of ups and downs and I think that’s kind of makes us what we are. In this particular moment, with the return of the beautiful Christine, she is a beautiful soul, now it signals the beginning of a poetic, profound and I think prolific new chapter of this band – Fleetwood Mac!”

It appears that adoring Fleetwood Mac fans are still smitten with the relatively recent return of keyboardist Christine McVie – following her 16-year hiatus from the band. And draped in her Godiva-esque blonde locks, trademark all black ensemble, shawls and lace, Nicks twirled, swayed and charmed her worshippers like a high-priestess dancing on an altar of love .

Throughout the solid three hour performance, Buckingham again proved that he is one of rock history’s most vital visionaries and talented guitarists. His lightning-fast fingers skidded across his various custom guitars delighting the 17,000 worshippers in attendance.

The whimsical lyrics of Nick’s enchanting song Gypsy (she dedicated this song to her closest friend Robin Snyder Anderson – whom she met in high school and who died from Leukemia at age 34) remind us of how truly sacred and fleeting life is.

Perhaps what is most compelling about Fleetwood Mac is how many of their songs echo the longings of the human heart. How their own personal stories reflect both the countless joys and wonders of this incredibly beautiful and broken world and the people in it.

That no matter how much we strive to avoid it, none of us escapes the dark night of the soul. Though if we have faith, work hard and are tenacious enough, we can sometimes attain our wildest dreams and this may be their greatest legacy of all.

SET LIST:

The Chain
You Make Loving Fun
Dreams
Second Hand News
Rhiannon
Everywhere
I Know I’m Not Wrong
Tusk
Sisters of the Moon
Say You Love Me
Seven Wonders
Big Love
Landslide
Never Going Back Again
Over My Head
Gypsy
Little Lies
Gold Dust Woman
I’m So Afraid
Go Your Own Way

ENCORE:

World Turning/Mick Fleetwood drum solo
Don’t Stop
Silver Springs

SECOND ENCORE:

Songbird


Queen: Youth wasted on the young – really?

People do you hear me, just give me the sign,
It ain’t much I’m asking, if you want the truth
Here’s to the future for the dreams of youth,
I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now

I Want it All – Queen

Those who casually claim that ‘youth is wasted on the young’ – have not experienced the recent incarnation of Queen . If their (July 28th) performance at the ACC in Toronto is any indication – the young people I saw seemed fully aware and appreciative of the musical brilliance of the rock royalty (Brian May, Roger Taylor) and the ‘new guy’ (A-Idol sensation Adam Lambert) on dazzling display before them.

In fact, I would argue that, for a few brief hours, time stood still for the throngs of aging boomers as well as those weaned on reality TV, mobile phones and social media. That’s the beauty, or should I say ‘booty’ for today’s slick concert promoters and performers – the ability to woo and mesmorize both the hipster and hip replacement generations simultaneously.

adam lambert

Oh sure, 21st century photo and lighter apps flickering on omnipresent pocket phone screens may have replaced instamatics and butane lighters at today’s pyrotechnic-laden performances, but they’re just fluff. What really resonates with the faithful, what no computer-generated app can recreate – is the live concert experience.

It was and it wasn’t Queen on stage at the ACC. May and Taylor are perennial ‘lions in winter’ who can still bring down any house, anytime, anywhere with searing guitar riffs and commanding drum solos. And as much as some people like to compare them – Adam Lambert is NOT Freddie Mercury, nor, thankfully, does he pretend to be.

It’s the purity, genius and grace of iconic songs like Love of My Life and Bohemian Rhapsody that seized the collective attention of the audience. No easy task considering that most of today’s concert goers have the attention span of a tse-tse fly hooked on meth. More importantly, for those of us who remember Queen of the 70’s and 80’s – their songs and music likely evoke memories of special moments with loved ones from a romanticized, though now distant past.

It’s the flair for theatrics, musical and vocal talent and ‘fire in belly’ of Lambert, May, Taylor and company that win the day. But more than that, it’s their ability to reimagine and recreate the classic Queen songs, in a way that holds the audience spellbound. By refusing to try and clone Freddie, an impossible task, this version of Queen is able to seize the glorious past, present and promising future and hold it all, briefly, in the palm of their hands.

In the end, if they are at all like me, I believe many of the excited and exhausted fans leaving the ACC (especially the energetic young woman in the seat beside me who stood, hollered, danced and sang for most of the concert) could say that they ‘had it all’, at least for a few magical hours.

Photo Credit: wikipediacommons


Frankenford Meets Duffy the PMO Vampire Slayer

Just when you think that interest in anything political was all but deep-sixed in this country, two juicy scandals have single-handedly revived the public’s interest in politics.

It’s true. Canadians were actually queuing up on Parliament Hill this past week to catch a glimpse of senior citizens debating in the Senate. But this was not just any boring, civil debate. It involved three senators (who just happened to have been caught) demonized for allegedly claiming inelligible expenses on the public’s dime.

Frankenstein & Dracula

Senator Mike Duffy stole the spotlight when his testimony linked PM Harper closer to former chief of staff Nigel Wright’s decision to write a $90,000.00 to Duffy.

Now Mr. Harper is probably writing a thank you note to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford for, once again, graciously deflecting the Canadian public’s attention away from the latest beating the PM’s reputation has been taking, thanks largely to Mr. Duffy. Note to the PMO – do not cross former journalists.

Mr. Ford is also making international news again – for a video purportedly showing him smoking crack cocaine and uttering racist and homophobic slurs. But you already know this, don’t you? Because we all love to see someone else fall and implode from time to time. Especially when the person free-falling or imploding is the leader of a peace-loving, polite country like Canada or world class city like Toronto. Oh ya, happy Halloween. Trick or treat?


Webber’s Wizard of Oz, for the child at heart

Believe me, it wasn’t easy. I mean, people like me and an entire generation of boomers were weaned on The Wizard of Oz, the iconic 1939 MGM film classic. Indeed, practically every year, from the late 1950’s to the early 1980’s, I sat enthralled by the dizzying vortex of sights, sounds, colors and bewitching characters emanating from my television screen.

Once the VCR and my first of five children were born – I then began to relive my own Oz-filled childhood memories and replay the Hollywood munchkin and flying-monkey mayhem countless times.

Then, just as I thought my perennial addiction for anything Oz had finally abated, quicker than one could say ‘Andrew Lloyd Webber’ – enter Over The Rainbow, the CBC’s own made-for-TV reality quest-for-Dorothy competition.

hi-wizard-of-oz-opens-mirviEvery Sunday for nearly two months – my wife, our five children and I were riveted to the TV screen, eager to see who would remain or get the ceremonial ‘ruby slipper boot’ from the show. The last time I can remember spending a string of Sunday evenings watching television with the entire family, I believe Ed Sullivan’s guests and Topo Gigio were the main attractions. This type of sustained collective attention span is no mean feat in this always-on, age of Internet, mobile technology, hyper audience fragmentation and social media.

Now imagine my elation after two tickets to the Toronto stage production of The Wizard of Oz magically appeared (courtesy of our children) under the tree on Christmas morning. Fast forward to last Friday evening when, from my third row center orchestra seat, I was instantly thrust back in time and once again lured in by the irresistible pull of this powerful enduring narrative.

Yet, incredibly, the entire first half of the show I found myself reeling, caught between two worlds. I could not stop the dizzying cyclone of nearly four decades of Oz film clips, forever burned into my mind, from spinning and colliding with the visual feast unfolding in real time on the stage in front of me.

Ironically, it wasn’t until I stopped measuring, character for character, scene for scene, line for line, the Webber stage production against one of the most watched and celebrated films in cinematic history – that the real magic began. Soon, the vitality and exuberance of the characters on the stage began to shine through the dense fog of celluloid memory.

The Scarecrow (Jamie McKnight), Tin Man (Mike Jackson) and Lion (Lee MacDougall) are all solid characters who add doses of their own personal warmth and humor to their performances. Cedric Smith, whom some will remember as the father figure from Road to Avonlea, is perfectly cast as Professor Marvel and his doppelganger the Wizard of Oz.

Glinda’s (Robbin Evan Willis) saccharin-sweet personality and toothy perm a-smile are perfectly juxtaposed to the maniacal, zany demeanor of the Wicked Witch of the West (Lisa Horner).

Make no mistake though, the crown (emerald) jewel in this stage version of the MGM classic is Danielle Wade. Her natural charisma, powerful voice and youthful innocence make her the perfect choice to play Dorothy Gale.

Through her stellar performance, Wade is able to make us truly believe, if only briefly, in the eternal, redemptive human qualities of courage, wisdom and love. And in a culture where instant gratification and crude behavior are often king – that is worth far more than the price of admission.

Photo Credit: CBC.ca

Related Sites: http://www.mirvish.com/shows/thewizardofoz