April 5, 2012 6 Comments
John K Samson, lead singer of Winnipeg’s folk indie rock band, the Weakerthans decided to put out a solo album on Jan. 24, 2012 called Provincial. He’s currently nearing the end of his tour throughout Canada and the US promoting his newly released album. He made a stop in Vancouver on Mar. 31, 2012 at the Biltmore Cabaret – a small venue that can hold about a couple hundred people. I was fortunate enough to go see him live as I’m a big fan of John K Samson. I also knew he doesn’t come out here that often, so I had no choice but to go.
The house music fades out. More people started arriving at the sold out venue as the curtains pull away. The opening band, Shotgun Jimmie started the night. I didn’t know what to expect from him because I’ve never heard of his stuff before. One of the first things I noticed was his modded Fender guitar (it had a Bigsby vibrato tail piece, which I’ve never seen before) and a suitcase used as a kick drum. His music was interesting as you knew he was up there having fun, and his songs were about random things like girls, love, space, beer, etc. It had an indie rock feel to his music. Really enjoyable. He would add in little guitar riffs here and there, a couple of jazz chords, and some rock and roll. He even admitted that his “drum kit” sounded like cheap electronic drum loops. He definitely warmed up the crowd especially when he played his last song of his set. He invited a drummer and John K Samson to play bass. What a great way to get the crowd pumped.
John K Samson starts off with him alone on stage with an acoustic guitar in hand. He did his welcome thing and starts the set with playing “One Great City!”. A Weakerthans song about a love/hate relationship with Winnipeg. Once he played the first note on his guitar, you knew he had everyone’s attention. He then played “Heart of the Continent” from his solo album, Provincial. He mentioned how they were pretty much the same chords but with different lyrics. The rest of the band came up and joined him for a few more songs along with Shotgun Jimmie on lead guitar. During the performance, a girl blacks out in the crowd and John stops the music to make sure she’s ok before continuing on. Then someone yelled “you’re so Canadian!” and the night went on. He later raised his mug and made a toast by reciting his song “Elegy for Gump Worsley”, a tribute to Gump Worsley, an old goalie for the New York Rangers. He also later promoted a petition saying that Reggie “The Riverton Rifle” Leach should be into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Which lead to the song he wrote about the petition. John played a good balance of songs from his solo album and songs from the Weakerthans which was what everyone was hoping for.
John always had a smile on his face, and you knew he was having a good time on stage. With that combined with his great stories behind the songs, and his amazing songwriting, this is why people were so captivated by him and his music. I found myself just closing my eyes and embracing the music. One could only hope that the night would last forever, but unfortunately, John’s set had to end. People were wanting more. John ended up doing a few more encore songs, and wrapped up the night by standing at the very front of the stage with his guitar playing and singing (without being plugged into the system) “Virtute The Cat Explains Her Departure”. It was like a good old sing along. What a great end to the night.
I think I’ve said this a few times already, but I’ll say it again. When you have someone that is very genuine, a good story teller, talented musician/songwriter, and a great poet playing at a small intimate venue, you get an amazing concert.