Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Reviews:: Mark Berube and Ben Rogers @ LIME

Last night reaffirmed why I love music. While that horribly cliché and overused statement may sound a dime a dozen to all you skeptics, Mark Berube's return to Vancouver last night was an interactive experience that really made you feel like you were part of something special. It shouldn't be surprising, as Mark is a natural performer who really embraces the live setting and tries to give back to the audience. Whether it is cameos, sing-alongs or cartwheeling fans and friends, Berube always gives you something you can’t get from listening to his record on the way home or in your car.

First off, the venue was top shelf. I'd never been to Lime before, but an upscale Japanese restaurant playing Kung-fu on the flat screen and a small stage with a real piano is not your everyday venue for a Tuesday night soirée. It worked out great because you could sit, eat some food and get a nice glass of wine while Mark and the band sound checked. The opener for the night was Ben Rogers. I was largely unfamiliar with his work, but his deep voice and Louis L'Amour/Steinbeck influenced subject matter was a perfect primer for the night. He reminded me of another fantastic Vancouver singer - Roger Dean Young - but drifted more into the Dylan realm and his new record is going to be one I track down when it comes out.
[MP3]:: The Dealer
[MP3]:: Once a Wife, Twice a Widow

But without a doubt, we were there to welcome Mark back to the city he used to call home. The setup was perfect. A small stage covered in instruments and a piano tucked in the corner that let Mark slink of to the side. Amazingly, even tucked in the corner with a stand up bass, violin, drums, and guitar Mark's voice dominated the songs. The emotion and intensity really added to tracks like Tomorrow and the full sound bolstered a fantastic new song (which I think was called Say It Ain't So).

As is always the case, Mark had more tricks up his sleeve than Lindsay's new boyfriend (ba-zing). First off, he opens with just an accordion and transitions the song to the piano and ends the opening a cappella. Second, getting Dan Magnan up to sing along (Mark and Dan, if you read this you two really need to record some material together. Your voices work together so well). Then, a cameo by some of the Fugitives. The cast of characters rotated nicely, and let Mark switch up tempos and share the spotlight with friends he hasn't seen in ages.

But he certainly saved the best for last. After thanking the guest and performers, Mark hinted he had a surprise for us all. Tucked in the back of the tiny restaurant was about 20 ominous looking people (well 19, as strangely enough one of the people milling around was about 12) with a sizable collection of brass. Then from out of nowhere, you heard a New Orleans style Saints Go Marching In and one by one the Too Big To Care Marching Band weaved through the crowd to join Mark and the band on stage. They played a powerful version of Yebo Mama and swung into Mark's trademark closing track, Pretty Little Bird. Instead of simply ending the song, the band, Mark and the crowd filtered onto Commercial Drive and kept the party moving. Seeing people dancing at in the middle of the street @ 12 AM, surrounded by brass and a man with an accordion is pretty well the perfect way to end any night.

Nic was smart enough to bring her camera:

[MP3]:: Pretty Little Bird
[MP3]:: Yebo Mama
[MP3]:: Old Berlin

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Posted at 2:46 PM by ack :: 1 comments

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At 8:56 AM, Blogger olly did sayeth:

Thank you so much ! Eagerly awaiting for Mark Berube forthcoming release. I'm so enhusiast about Ben Rogers ! Have you check Ben's records website : his fellow songwriter Ricardo Khayatte - aka Aiden Gardel - has few tracks available - both are awesome guys !


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