With his first utterance, there crowd erupted, remaining statically charged as the silver penned devil did his level best to bring exaggerated pantomime into the proceedings, mugging wildly, striking poses and delivering his literate musings with a wink. Sheets of precipitation thoroughly soaked everyone, yet spirits remained high. Despite looking like a thrift-shop version of John Steed, I was glad to have dragged along my brolly.
Rain fell in real time/rain fell through the night
Looking for a place to happen..
When the “Gord is Lord” tag first cropped up amongst fans of the Hip as a descriptor for the lead singer, 99.9 percent of that was attributed to his very special way with words. The lyrical content of Fully Completely is rich in imagination, historical reference and abstract thought at its finest. Wrongly convicted men mingle with mythical serial killers who roam free. Woven into this tapestry are tales that incorporate fact, fiction and shadowy areas in between.
Their performance was incandescent, instantly conjuring memories of that period for me (late 1992)…friends, parties, adventures all came crashing through the time barrier, forming perfect holograms. Every selection on this perfect disc was delivered with passion and swept the crowd into a rapturous mood. Delicate guitar figures (“Pigeon Camera”) mixed with terrific, straight ahead rock (“Looking for a Place to Happen”) and the intensity continued to build with every song. Bobby Baker took a few inspired, extended solos while smiling at Downie’s antics. Celebrating the over 60 year old Bill Barilko OT goal as if it was happening at that moment brought him back to life momentarily in the midst of a waterlogged concert site. “Wheat Kings” was enhanced by a mass chorus of voices that lifted this plaintiff, acoustic ballad to anthemic heights. Not a beat missed, nor a note wasted, “Eldorado” wound up on an incredible sonic high.
Thanking the rain and the die-hards who stayed throughout the deluge, Gord reminded everyone that they weren’t finished yet. The encore was almost anticlimactic, considering the sheer emotional impact of getting our collective heads ripped open by such a stellar show. I have seen these guys multiple times, though this was by far the best experience.
Photo Credit: Mark Horton/ Bluesfest Wire Service