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The W - Music - SLCR #244: Danny Michel (May 12, 2016)
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KJames199
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Since: 10.12.01
From: #yqr

Since last post: 6 days
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#1 Posted on | Instant Rating: 8.63
"Shit is crazy, isn't it? Shit's bonkers."

I don't usually take notes while a show is going on. That mostly happens either between sets or, more often, after I get home. But I made a point of writing down that quote from Danny Michel, and I'm glad I did. It was in reference to the current political situation in the US, and it sums that whole thing up nicely, but it was also fitting for a night where Danny Michel saved me from catching fire.

I always seem to have some weird or awkward moment at a Danny Michel show. More than my own innate awkwardness would suggest, I mean. I have never before, however, come close to catching fire in front of him.

But that was after the show. Before the show, Steve and I went from subway to streetcar to the Lula Lounge, a venue that was new for both of us. Now, when I travel, I usually go through my wallet before I leave and ditch everything I won't need on vacation - things like my city bus pass and library card. Well, somehow, I thought "I won't be driving, I won't need my driver's licence" and left it at home too. Luckily, I brought my passport to use as ID at the airport, and even more luckily, I thought to keep my passport with me in case we went to one of those venues that cards everyone. And I did need to present photo ID at the Lula Lounge, since there were no tickets - just my name on a list. The guy working at the door loved this and took the opportunity to ask if I was importing any fruits or vegetables into the venue.

The coda to this whole stupid story is that my driver's licence was in my wallet all along - I'd been looking at the empty space where my bus pass normally goes, not my licence.

Luckily, this whole situation distracted the bouncer from my footwear - Lula Lounge has a dress code of no ball caps and no running shoes. I'm glad he didn't enforce the shoe situation, as all of my other shoes were in Saskatchewan. We'd have been in enough trouble if they'd been back at Steve's place at the other end of Toronto.

We walked into the place and I immediately spotted Ed Robertson of Barenaked Ladies. I half expected Danny to have some surprise guests at this show - he does a semi-regular series of shows in Toronto called School Night Mondays where there's always a special guest and the shows end at a reasonable hour - but no, Ed was just there to enjoy himself. I think this might be the first time I've ever spotted a celebrity in the wild. We saw him again two days later going into the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, so clearly I know all the best places to go in Toronto and rock stars look to me for recommendations.

For all the times I've seen Danny, I'm pretty sure this was the first time he had a band with him. It's always been just him and a guitar and maybe some sampler pedals. There was no opener - instead, he and his band basically opened for themselves, playing a short set, taking a cake break, and then coming back out for more.

Cake! This show was the record release party for Michel's new album, Matadora, and a rep from Six Shooter Records showed up with a giant cake with the album cover on it. Danny got a taste of the icing, and his guitar neck did too (he was still finding icing on the guitar the next day, judging from his Instagram). Steve figured that if you got the slice where Danny poked the icing, that meant good luck, like if you got the wax-paper wrapped quarter in the birthday cake. We got cake between the two sets, and though we didn't get the lucky piece, it was very tasty cake. On Instagram, Danny later said that he didn't actually get a slice, which was too bad for him, but he and the band did get a round of shooters in the middle of the show. I'd say that's just as good, but he said it tasted like gasoline and later blamed it when he let a cuss word or two slip out, so yeah, that's probably a step down from tasty cake.

Of all the Michel shows I've seen, I think this was the best one - the band had lots of energy and seemed to be having a really good time. They played lots from Matadora, of course, but there were songs from throughout Danny's career. He opened with Wish Willy (didn't tell the delightful story from last time) and White Lightning before getting into the new tunes. After the show, I tried to get a picture of Danny's red guitar, the one painted with "this machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender." The picture didn't turn out that well, but since I was there anyway, I snagged Danny's setlist. As such, I have a list of what was played, but even so, it still takes some translation to deduce that "RUBY" means he played Rubicon, or that "TENNIS" is Tennessee Tobacco, things like that. They also started into Suspicious Minds after making an Elvis reference, but Danny called a stop to it pretty quickly, to the seeming disappointment of his bandmates.

After the show, I went to buy a vinyl copy of the new album, which seemed like the thing to do at an album release party. Amid the cluster of people near the door, I wound up standing next to Ed from BNL, so I chatted with him for a few seconds. Dude was very friendly.

I got close to the front of the line and saw that there was a sign next to the stack of stuff that suggested that the records and money had been unmanned for the evening and that we were on the honour system. That kind of faith in humanity made me smile. And also if you want some Danny Michel CDs, email me, I have a few dozen to get rid of.

Finally, I made it to the front and bought my record. I got him to sign it and the setlist, which he took a picture of before I was allowed to abscond with it. I probably should have offered to give it back to him, seeing as how it was actually, y'know, HIS, but oh well. Anyway, I was leaning in to chat with Danny, talking about one of our previous wacky occurrences, when he pushed me back a bit and pulled a candle away - my untucked shirt (so slovenly!) was dangling around the flame. I thought he was just being overly cautious until I touched said shirt tail and "oh, shit, that's actually hot." So yeah. Nearly caught fire. It derailed whatever I was trying to tell him but I am pretty sure that nearly catching fire was more interesting than anything I could have said anyway. After the first time I saw him, I joked that he owed me a Sharpie; after a more recent show, he said he'd buy me a drink. But after preventing my untimely demise in some sort of one-man inferno, I think we're square.



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KJames199
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Since: 10.12.01
From: #yqr

Since last post: 6 days
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#2 Posted on | Instant Rating: 8.63
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Since: 13.2.02
From: Back in the Heart of Hali

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#3 Posted on | Instant Rating: 10.00

Great review, as usual. Danny Michel is coming to Halifax in August and will be playing one of our better venues; you may have inspired me to go down and check him out (hah! like I ever go out anymore; but I'll think about it, sure I will!)

On a somewhat related note, I swear in one of your other reviews you talked about Danny Michel playing "Fantastic Place" at every show (clearly not this one) because people are hugely attached to it and want to hear it, even though he doesn't consider it his strongest work. I thought this was how I found out that he was the guy who wrote it even though I only know it from the Rhinos CD I still have that I bought on a flyer way back in the nineties. Did I imagine you saying that? Am I drinking too much again? Or did you maybe talk about it in a review of another show where a performer played "the song everyone wants to hear even though it's from early in my career and I've done much much better work since"?

KJames199
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Since: 10.12.01
From: #yqr

Since last post: 6 days
Last activity: 2 hours
#4 Posted on | Instant Rating: 8.63
Thanks! You should definitely check out the show if the venue is nice. Danny is good people and tickets are usually pretty reasonable.

I don't think it was me talking about Fantastic Place - I had to go through my iTunes library just to be sure which song you were talking about (I'm bad with titles). It is a good song and a fantastic album - hard to believe it's been over 15 years.



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Since: 13.2.02
From: Back in the Heart of Hali

Since last post: 408 days
Last activity: 23 days
#5 Posted on | Instant Rating: 10.00
    Originally posted by KJames199
    Thanks! You should definitely check out the show if the venue is nice. Danny is good people and tickets are usually pretty reasonable.

    I don't think it was me talking about Fantastic Place - I had to go through my iTunes library just to be sure which song you were talking about (I'm bad with titles). It is a good song and a fantastic album - hard to believe it's been over 15 years.


The venue is The Carleton.  We've got three utterly brilliant music venues in Halifax:
  • The Music Room which is tiny and holds like 110 people max and is a "serious music space" (no bar) where you can hear classical and stuff most of the time, but I saw Jill Barber there (with Mike O'Neill of the Inbreds opening) and it was beyond words.
  • The Rebecca Cohn Auditorium in the Dalhousie Arts Centre which is as close as we have to a Massey Hall kind of place, but on a Halifax scale (1,000 seats or so). If the CBC recorded it in Halifax it was probably at the Cohn. That's the "Rebecca" from Jill Barber's song "Legacy" if you're familiar.
  • The Carleton which is the bar owned by Mike and Mike of 90s MuchMusic fame (but mostly Mike Campbell these days, although Mike Rhodes remains an owner). It's on shaky ground right now because of the two-years and counting construction of the (totally unnecessary) convention centre going in across the street messing up foot traffic and parking and generally making it difficult for small businesses in the area. Mike takes live music seriously. The bar is open during the show, but don't be getting up to get a drink mid-song. And don't talk during a performance. They invite people who do to leave. Regularly. It is awesome.
And the version of Fantastic Place that I know from the Rhinos album "Fishing in the Fountain of Youth" is closer to 25 years old: it was released in 1993!

This has been More Information Than You Require :)

(I'm seriously considering damning the torpedos and grabbing some Danny Michel tickets now)
 
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I had really good intentions of having another go at writing this in bed last night, but yeah, fell asleep again. So now I am sitting up at the kitchen table, but in the interest of repeating past mistakes, I am once again overloading on chips and salsa....
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