Kevin Hearn and Thin Buckle
|13-Aug-2006 06:10 pm||Contributed by: pete||Concert Reviews|
I had neither met nor seen Kevin before, so I was surprised when a beautiful young woman asked me if I was Kevin's brother Sean, whom she had not met but knew was going to be present. It turns out Sean was indeed in the house working behind the scenes, there to provide appropriate lighting for his brother. But before the band hit the stage, a different Sean, Sean Cullen (known for many things, including The Producers) performed a very humorous and seemingly improvisational introduction for Kevin.
I decided to photograph Kevin Hearn based on a recommendation from a friend, but I'd actually never heard any of Kevin's solo work so I really had no idea what kind of music to expect. I'll admit that I am not really a fan of the Barenaked Ladies; being a Toronto resident I hear plenty of it, but it's just not my style. However, Kevin's solo work has a very different consistency; more like a very mellow mixture of The Flaming Lips and Grandaddy, with lyrics that discuss unique topics such as mapping the human genome, bomber planes, and viruses, in addition to other more normal subjects.
Hearn opened the set on the piano with Statue of Los Angeles that blended together well with the next song Rescue Us. Both of these were fairly soothing, as was much of the music played that night. On the third song, Kevin asked the rhetorical question of whether it was too early to invite a guest onto stage, and then invited Ron Sexsmith to add vocal accompaniment to High and Low. Kevin's singing voice has a soft pitch that along with the mellifluous music and dim lighting, put everyone in the room at ease. In fact, it put them so much at ease that the audience members standing near the front chose to sit down on the floor to relax and enjoy the rest of the performance. The show was a long series of songs, but could easily be broken into two sets: The first set was about 45 minutes and consisted of all the songs off the new album, and the second set was of equal length with songs from previous albums.
As someone who was hearing this music for the first time, I found at least a few songs to be immediately memorable. The songs that really stood out were Map Of The Human Genome, In The Country, and The Good Times Virus. These three songs were played brilliantly by both Kevin and his remarkably skilled band. On the drums was Bob Scott wearing a bowler hat with a red feather and sport socks on his feet (no shoes). Aside from keeping the beat, he performed quite a few interesting and complex percussive manoeuvres and kept everyone amused with his comical expressions. He also hit everything within reach, including his head. Chris Gartner played bass and even though he had a very calm demeanour, he made sure that there was never a dull low-end. For some songs, including the The Good Times Virus, his amazing bass lines seemed to take the lead. Brian Macmillan is a reserved yet versatile player that shared guitar and keyboard duties with Kevin, and even played a little lap-style guitar during one or two songs. I didn't catch the name of the electric cello player who added depth to a number of the compositions.
The last song in the set was Perfect Day by Lou Reed, clearly one of Kevin's influences, after which they took a break for a beer. (Kevin had a pint of beer on stage throughout the set, but it must've just been for moral support because he never took time out from his music to pick it up). I was unable to stay for the encore, but the set list showed that among a few other songs they were planning on playing Black Sabbath's War Pigs (strangely, this has been a popular encore song recently). In just over 90 minutes, Hearn got this music listener interested in hearing a few of his songs again, especially Map Of The Human Genome. His music is definitely more mellow than what I normally listen to, but there will be certain times of the night when it will make an excellent life soundtrack. I'll be picking up his new album The Miracle Mile just for those moments in my life when a deep breath is required to stay on track.
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