Hello everyone. Just got back home from TO. Here are my first few impressions, until I am able to collect my thoughts properly.
Pardon my French, but Lukas was in the fucking stratosphere last night! Literally blew my mind. I thought, at the North Bay concert, he had reached the pinnacle of musical art but last night folks, he was freaking (even if I say so :)) fucking unbelievable. You will forgive me the profanity, but there are no adjectives in the English vocabulary that would do justice to describe that performance. It was unreal or surreal, his voice was rolling off the walls, it filled the room and invaded and pervaded you, like a loving embrace enveloping you from all sides.
I will confess that, when I first saw the venue, I was concerned about the acoustics because the place is basically an upstairs bar that had the look and feel of the many others we’ve seen on this tour, where concrete reverb is the rule. But, oh boy, was I mistaken! Sound of breathtaking beauty. I only hope the recording of it does it justice because it was nearly holy. Lukas Rossi was seriously on, dope, whatever you want to call perfection at this, his homecoming, which was much more of a loud love-in than a concert. But holy Mother of God, his vocals were extraordinary, at times angelic, at times grungy, and this despite obvious difficulty in-between some numbers where we heard his hacking cough. How an artist can produce that level of quality while being sick escapes me. I have no words to describe how insanely good the vocals were. And, as usual, he added twists and turns, in particular slowing down some songs and even singing them sotto voce or a cappella. His wife and manager, Kendra, who was seated to one side of the stage bathed in light, was bursting with pride and even shedding a tear or two at this — for lack of another descriptive –vocally acrobatic performance. If you could string a thousand Wows and Oh-my-Gods in a row, it wouldn’t come close to how good this show was.
Many more things to say, but I can tell you I did not sleep last night. I am on cloud 9, on a serious buzz from that show and it’s going to take a while for me to come down from that high and provide you with a more sober review.
For me, it was also a very bittersweet moment because it was my last show for this acoustic tour, and, I missed the fans who weren’t there and I’m going to really miss the ones who were there to share in this glorious achievement. We will forever be tied together by this concert and we will never ever forget what we saw and heard in Lee’s Palace.
Hello, again, peeps. Here are some supplemental thoughts I had about last night’s performance.
I’m a little calmer than earlier but, oh man, was that a phenomenal performance last night! Funny thing is, I never got to tell Lukas Rossi how fucking amazing his show was. It completely escaped me in the thrill of the Meet & Greet afterwards! Hopefully, he reads this page one day.
The day started sort of strangely for me. My plane landed late and was grounded on the tarmac for 20 minutes before being allowed to taxi up to the assigned gate because the departing plane was still there. I’ve never had that happen to me. It took forever to deplane and then my cab downtown where I was supposed to meet some fans was stuck in monster traffic on its way to the Grey Cup game.
Got to the venue finally, ran into some fans on the street starting to converge on Lee’s Palace. But nobody had had supper, so we found an eatery on Bloor Street W. and chowed down, pondering just how magical Lukas Rossi’s show was likely to be, all the while messaging our absent US friends who we dearly wish were with us. Things started looking up at that point. One fan saw the SUV drive by our restaurant on its way to the venue. Then, as we were waiting outside in the cold on the sidewalk waiting for the doors to open, we saw Lukas Rossi and his wife/manager Kendra leave Lee’s under bodyguard escort and cross the street to a book store where he appeared to be giving a TV interview. Before he came out, a cameraman or reporter came over to our side of the street and asked the fans to make noise when Lukas Rossi would come back out and return to Lee’s Palace. Like they wouldn’t have cheered wildly anyway! But, today’s media is orchestrated and likes its ‘Rockstar’ moments (I smile because my brother is a member of the infamous media). In any event, even if the on-camera shenanigans were ‘fake’ or ‘exaggerated’, Lukas Rossi got some real loving from his fans as he emerged and crossed the street and he disappeared into the Palace after telling all: Let’s rock shit! But, of course, nothing was staged, and everything that went on in the RockStar mansion on the TV show was true hahaha! By the way, there was a reporter/photographer from E-Talk there last night reviewing the concert.
OK, Lee’s Palace…as I mentioned before, it’s a dark, (intentionally?) poorly-lit bar with red front doors, and a huge stage at the back, much like Barrymore’s in Ottawa. You have a slight impression of being ushered into the antechamber to Hell. I have no idea how you would ever find your friends in a place like that, packed wall-to-wall with people standing and cheering. All the walls and the ceiling are black with red lettering and the stage has draping behind it and on the sides, all black, which give it a Phantom of the Opera feel. All the lighting was red or reddish, which accentuated the feeling that we had all been convened to a goth high mass. Little did we know what we were about to really witness.
Mr. Rossi Senior was apparently in attendance somewhere, along with other family and friends of Lukas’. Lukas actually acknowledged their presence at the beginning of the show and told his father that he loved him and blew him a kiss. I did see Jon Jamieson, the drummer in his band Stars Down, on our side of the stage a few times.
Greg Neufeld, as an opening act, was actually quite good and certainly more intense and vocally interesting than I’ve ever witnessed during his two stints on Canadian Idol. Unfortunately, he made quite an ass of himself after the show and basically lost, in my eyes, any credibility he had gained as an artist from his performance.
Channel One, the second opening act, was much better last night, probably because the band felt it had to raise the intensity level after Greg Neufeld’s performance. At least, this time, they didn’t dial it in.
But these musical appetizers, while thoroughly enjoyable, pale ridiculously in comparison to Lukas’ voice, intensity and delivery. This is where the wheat gets separated from the chaff. Lukas Rossi is a world-class artist and deserving of such recognition but those who preceded him on stage, not to be cruel, will never attain that plateau because they don’t have the baggage, the talent to go all the way. Channel One’s act, in general, lacks originality, as the band repeats, nearly down to a T, the same identical banter and performance as before. It appears to be caught in a rut and to be clueless as to how to better engage the crowd. The band members act and speak like a group that knows deep inside that it will always be a filler for other headliners. It’s a shame because I, for one, am the first to support new Canadian talent.
Lukas Rossi came out in a long black ‘army’ coat. Later, while he was chatting with the audience, he pointed to the insignia on his left arm and proclaimed himself general of his fans’ Army of One. Tremendous cheers went up.
The main course from last night in Toronto:
War (the new song)
Sunrise Of A Digital Star
Angry Memories Of You
It’s All Love
Hurt? (Three Days Grace perhaps? This is the same song he’s done twice before but I’ve been unable to positively identify)
Comfortably Numb (performed with Channel One)
From the first note, it was obvious we were in for a special night. Lou Dawson was particularly moody and brooding in her instrumental flights of fantasy leading into Lukas Rossi’s vocals on practically every song.
Lukas went completely a cappella in the introduction to Lonely Ones. Mesmerizing!
And he added echoes to certain words throughout the performance that would just stab through you like a prolonged sigh. Chills, chills, chills.
I finally managed to capture 2 new verses from that gorgeous song War which is quickly turning into my favourite, though it is very hard to top Angry Memories Of You. Lukas sings this at one point during War:
Raise your glass to the winner
Crown your queen for a day
Intriguing, to say the least! Don’t ask me how this ties in to the ‘white horses’ theme or the title, because I haven’t a clue.
On Angry Memories Of You, the intensity was such that, from my vantage point, I noticed for the first time how first one, then two large veins were protruding along his neckline. Wow!
Lukas reverted to the concluding passage:
You fucking whore
You’re going to get so much more. (I heard it right this time, I believe)
And he ended the song with a sinister warning: I’ll find you!
Then, he straightened up in his chair and shook himself off much like a horse or a dog does and extended both arms downwards, fingers apart, as if he were trying to release an electric discharge that had been running through him and he exhaled audibly with cheeks puffed as he emerged from the alternate reality that seemed to inhabit him for the duration of that song. Powerful stuff!
In the transitions between songs, Lukas Rossi was extremely witty and at times gave off a mischievous little boy vibe that was quite endearing.
He changed the end to Fuse last night, straying off at the end into an unexpected whisper. I didn’t catch it all but I did hear him voice the words: I’d die for you, love!
The encore, Comfortably Numb, was haunting in its interpretation especially due to the darkness infused by Lou Dawson’s piano into the opening musical portion.
There was such a demand to meet Lukas after the concert that the line stretched half-way through the concert hall. Lukas Rossi and his wife Kendra were extremely generous with their time despite the fact that their family and friends were waiting presumably to go to an afterparty elsewhere. And the venue was quite decent about the length of time it took for that long procession of fans and admirers to wind its way down. Fans presented Lukas Rosssi and Kendra with a book of poems, photographs, drawings, and personal messages and quotes on behalf of the ‘Rossi Posse’. They both seemed genuinely touched at the many hours of time and effort that went into its preparation, not to mention the artistic creations it contained.
One final thought about yesterday’s show that basically sums it up: Lee’s Palace had its king last night and he crowned himself.
Man, concert withdrawals suck big time!
I keep hearing portions of Lukas Rossi’s songs in my head all day, as if my brain were still trying to make sense of the beauty and magnificence witnessed throughout 7 concerts and categorize the fragments of my auditory memory. I, for one, can’t wait to download the Lee’s Palace concert. I truly, honestly feel it was his best ever. There are interpretations of other songs that I preferred (such as the angry Creep in North Bay and the Angry Memories of You with its raspy, whispery end in London), but, on the whole, in terms of acoustics and vocal prowess, this was the concert par excellence.
At the Toronto concert, Lukas, at one point, spoke of honesty in music. That is the main reason why his lyrics are so compelling, in my view: because they tell a story that is, or could be, true and describe emotions we all feel and do not necessarily confess to ourselves. Lukas Rossi, in a way, is our confessor and confidante who urges us to peer over the brink of our own darkness and face the demons and fears directly. Listening to his music and lyrics is a form of expiation or exorcism of pain from the past, a cleansing of the soul, to enable us and him to move on. We are locked in a symbiotic embrace in which he needs us and we need him to heal the wounds that have ravaged some of our lives or of those we love.
Lukas Rossi is a truly brilliant artist and I will never forget what and how much he shared of himself with us, the fans, throughout these two weeks. I am forever in his debt for coaxing joy out of pain and happiness out of gloom and for making this planet so much more bearable to live on.