atm-patrick watson

I am in love with Patrick Watson. Have been since the Polaris Prize Award winning Close to Paradise. I unfortunately missed his show in Edmonton at the McDougall Church…a venue that would have been perfect for a sound like Watson. But he comes tonight! For free! At the Jazz festival and I am so excited. I have been listening to his new album Wooden Arms non-stop and I figured I might as well hit two birds with one stone with a review of the album as well.

This and more after the jump! Not until tomorrow will I have a recap of the show.

EDIT: I now have recapped the show. I know I said I’d have it the morning of. I lied. Jaja sorry! Busy with being sad about Roddick and being sad watching MJ’s memorial. But I finally wrote it and it was truly a wonderful concert! Review after the jump!

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Staying close to the forumla of Close to Paradise, Watson’s opener on Wooden Arms, which is one of my favorites off the album,”Firewood”, has lulling strings of guitar and the cooing of Watson’s soft voice dish out heartfelt lyrics that are signature to Watson. The album continues in this eclectic fashion, light percussion, at times violin, xylophones, and even a bicycle, but whatever the instrument, his voice is absolutely stunning and is noticed over all else. He goes into those high notes with such an air that if you breathed it might break the wave, so you hold it in. You hold it all in.

I don’t know what else to say about this album that others haven’t already. Patrick Watson is nominated for another Polaris this year, and he is up against some super tough competition like Coeur de Pirate, Handsome Furs, and Junior Boys. Even I can’t pick between these. Very difficult! But if he does win, he deserves it once again. Wooden Arms is brilliant. Buy his albums here.

I leave you with two of my faves off of each album. PLEASE come to the show tonight to see what I mean, and if you’re one of those unlucky souls who can’t, buy his albums…you’ll see.

A♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

MP3: Patrick Watson – Man Under The Sea (Close to Paradise)

MP3: Patrick Watson – The Great Escape (Close to Paradise)

MP3: Patrick Watson – Fireweed (Wooden Arms)

MP3: Patrick Watson – Where The Wild Things Are (Wooden Arms)

Live in Show: Patrick Watson
@ Scène General Motors; MJF 05 07 09

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***Note: Throughout the entire review and recap, I refer to Patrick Watson as if he is just one person. But, in actuality, Patrick Watson is a band. Kind of like the Dave Matthews Band…except without the band part. Just so people don’t get confused, and I, myself, don’t get confused, creating even more syntax errors I already have, I will speak of PW as if it was just one person but, PW really is a band. For their explanation of this you can read this article here.***

From the very beginning when the announcer came on to tease us about the almost ready Patrick Watson, he said to us, keep your eyes and ears open for you won’t know what will happen, wild things! fun things! loud things! Surely enough, to my gracious surprise, twenty minutes was all we had to wait before the stage lights dimmed down and a loud Doppler Effect rumbling could be heard.

High in the skies on balconies and roofs of permanent and temporary buildings stood a sea of people dressed in black holding large square aluminum pieces. Rumble and fold rumble and fold. The sound alluded to a thousand drums playing all around us, signifying that this was the moment we were all waiting for. Rumble rumble rumble…Patrick Watson and his 8+ piece band (!) enter the stage.

Backed by tubas, trumpets, trombones, bass, violins, guitars, bass, pianos, and the like, Watson starts with one of my favorite songs off of Wooden Arms, “Fireweed”, which also happens to be the first track off of this native Canadian’s new LP. He continues with “Tracy’s Water” and “Beijing” which in my opinion was one of the best performances of the night. Not only was the light show fantastic, with the scrawling landscape of Beijing’s city roads, shops, and culture, but there was a high rise platform where a man rode a stationary bike, mimicking the action of cycling through Beijing. It was the sound of the city, that speaks to me. Probably one of the most light hearted songs on the new LP, “Beijing” was played with not your ordinary percussion pieces. Replacing your regular drums, bongos, and tings, they instead did percussion on pots and pans. Very cool indeed.

Watson continues with “Wooden Arms” (trees abound to the stage, whistling, waving, and becoming subjects on stage), “12 Steps” (no, not an ‘even’—jaja get it?!—cover of Radiohead’s song, but one he dueted with a renowned French singer—I forget the name!), and “Big Bird in a Small Cage” (with the help of three Swedes, who were just wonderful, and apparently this was a song that is a love letter to Dolly Parton)?

Continuing the shuffle of tracks through Wooden Arms, Watson performs another one of my favorites “Traveling Salesman” which was done as a projection. Consistent with the rest of the show, there were many stops and pauses as Watson thanked his fans, stopped the music because he forgot someone, continued again, stopped saying he wanted to try something, start again, stops asking us if we need a beer or water or the washroom, etc. But this wasn’t seen as a disturbance to me, it was very Chad van Gaalen like, Watson was being very real, being a true showman without the cheesy and material professionalism that you know many other artists rehearse at every other show like mimes. This time he stopped because the performance of this song required the lights in the back, and a huge white veil to cover the front stage. Big and small the band went. I never pictured “Traveling Salesman” as a circus like song, but he definitely made it one on stage and it worked, especially with Watson using a megaphone to alter his voice into a singing announcer.

As if the show couldn’t get any cooler, we are treated to a mini film projected onto the walls surrounding the stage. It was of a man being blown away by the wind. The wind was so severe that the man became injured enough to find himself in a hospital bed. Strangely enough the hospital bed flies away and gets stuck in this out of nowhere whirlwind . This short cinematographic treat plays while the band and Watson jam and create a melancholic ambiance. It was a nice interlude.

Watson then goes into another of my favorites off Wooden Arms (where are the older songs?!?!), “Where the Wild Things Are”. He jokes with us, saying how they wanted fire breathing men and lasers and wild and crazy things but the producer of the show wouldn’t let them have lasers. Next time, he says, next time. BUT! He did bring in a handmotionographer from India. Yes, he did. It was one the highlights of the night for me, and I think it was just perfect for the song both lyrically and rhythmically. I was most impressed with the elephant. Thanks to the guy that posted these on youtube!! I was very close to the front just like for Stevie Wonder but my angle was horrible for photo and video taking when considering the lighting conditions, hence no videos this time from me!

Cool huh? EVEN COOLER, is that after this, we pause again because Watson is trying something out. Normally he does this at his smaller shows, like in Edmonton, but to manage it through 100, 000 was simply awesome. Some dude created this device where 6 megaphones stick up from these contraption attached to your back, basically amplifying everything. This is a pretty good device if you wanna perform offstage. And that’s exactly what he does. He walks through the thousands and thousands of people, and plays “Hearts in the Park” and “The Storm”.

Now for another pause. He explains to us that he used to go to this bar all the time, and would always ask to sing, and ocassionally the owner would let him. Now, he pays his tribute to the man who let him blossom into who he is today, the man who he claims is the King of Drums. On comes this, at least, 60-70 year old man, playing drums like a madman. It wasn’t bad. This however, was a DIVERSION. AAAAAAAAAAAAAH TRICKSY TRICKSY MR. WATSON. A diversion for him to get back on stage to perform a song that he wrote for his son, “Machinery of the Heavens”, the longest of all of Watson’s songs and one of the most significant too. It is also another of my favorites on Wooden Arms. Hmm, that makes practically ever song he played one of my favorites. What an awesome setlist. Tee hee. Anyways, the song is full of soft, hopeful, and optimistic wails and cries. His heart reaches out to us in these 7 minutes, as we all sing together. I became teary eyed and almost cried during this. It was truly emotional and it was a great way to end the show.

But there is always an encore. In fact, he had many.

First encore.

He plays “Summertime” by George Gershwin. He tells us it’s one of his dad’s faves, and his dad always says to him, “Patrick, you have to play ‘Summertime'”! Ok dad! Ok! Good giggle. Then he plays “My Sweetheart”, a song unbeknownst to me and I can’t find whose song this actually is so if someone knows that’d be great! He alters the lyrics in the end, singing, “Montréal, don’t you taste sweet…don’t you taste sweet”. And BAM! There were fireworks. This show was simply getting better and better.

And then we thought it was over because of the fireworks. My general rule as to when to leave a show is when the lights come up or the tech people come out. For some odd reason this rule evaded me and my friend after the fireworks. Maybe I just wasn’t thinking straight after the 2 hours of watsonliciousnesss. Maybe I was too busy thinking about how he didn’t play “The Great Escape” and didn’t notice that neither of my rules had happened yet. Either way, we left our amazing spot at the front…and then we heard him come back on.

Second encore.

He says, “I don’t wanna leave yet…maybe I’ll play you some music so you have music to listen to while you walk away…I’ll play (don’t remember the song name)…” and he starts the song…and says wait a minute, “I’ll play ‘The Great Escape””. This is my friend and I’s favorite song of Watson’s. I tear up just listening to it blasted. I become so emotional just having it on repeat, lying down, contemplating. I was looking so forward to hearing this song that when I didn’t hear it, at first, it sounded so much better when it came so unexpectedly. AAAH trickster trickster Watson. You saved the best for last, you minx, you.

We had no way of getting back to where we were without having to take extra time going around people and the barricaded fence for non soliciting people. My friend, with his flippy floppies, jumped the meter high fence with impressive grace considering the footwear wasn’t right. Upon hearing the first notes I hurdled up and over the fence and attached my hand to his as we ran fast into the crowd back and closer than where we were before.

Bad day, looking for a way,
home, looking for the great escape.
Gets in his car and drives away,
far from all the things that we are.
Puts on a smile and breathes it in
and breathes it out, he says,
bye bye bye to all of the noise.
Oh, he says, bye bye bye to all of the noise.

But then the version is changed. It was hippier, hoppier, and happier. Not that this song isn’t an optimistic song, but the lulling melodies and dreamlike chords create a feeling of being at peace, being in a quiet and contemplative state of mind. And because this ambiance changed into a crowd clapping crowd jumping song, I didn’t feel the same emotions and didn’t tear up as I predicted I would. Still a wonderful song though, I just wished that he played the original we were all waiting to hear.

But wait. ANOTHER ENCORE?!?!

He comes back on and returns that melancholy that is signature of Patrick Watson with the performance of “Bright Shiny Lights”. And the show finally ended. And I was happy with this, as it ended on a wonderful note.

Let me just say that Watson fans, including myself, understood how monumental this moment was for Watson. Never playing for a fan base larger than a few thousand, Watson is used to playing in cozy venues like churches and your small time capacity music venues for under $20. Here Watson is, playing for a crowd estimated over 100, 000, with internet coverage the next day, probably double that for those who couldn’t and didn’t make the show for whatever reason. Just like many bands who get such this amazing opportunity to showcase themselves in front of crowds three and more larger than regular audiences, the appreciation and overwhelming expressions can be seen on the faces of Watson and his band.

Throughout the show, he was so happy, laughing, making funny noises, making jokes, talking with us, telling us that this was the largest crowd he’s ever played. Not that I wouldn’t be happy if I was up there either, but sometimes bands or artists start playing music for the wrong reasons, or become used to thousands and thousands of cheering happy people that the indescribable emotions once felt on stage are no longer novel but null. It’s nice to know that for Watson, this was beyond novel for him. It was beyond all emotions for him. It was clear on stage, on his face, the way he sang, and when he talked to us. And I’m really happy for him. I am beyond happy for him because tonight, he impressed thousands, and Patrick Watson and his music are gonna get known. I’m happy knowing that after tonight, his fan base grew exponentially. I’m especially happy knowing that despite this fact, Watson will remain one of those artists that will continually release great music with great lyrics and though he may experience overwhelming reception such as this in the future which may jade and train his reactions, his creativity and ubiquitous innovation on how to perform shows, how to make music, will always render him incapacitated by the love of his fans. That moment of vulnerability, that moment of being on the verge of tears because you can’t express yourself in any other way was felt tonight, by the fans, by me, and by Watson too.

Thanks for a great show. It was incredible. =)

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