Saturday, February 24, 2007

Wolfmother February 22, 2007 By: Christine Albrecht

PNE Forum Sold Out

PNE Forum Sold Out

Thanks to Kelli at House Of Blues, I finally got to see Wolfmother and without paying scalper’s fees.

Was my third time trying the charm? Most definitely!

As Jeff O’Neill from CFOX radio station informed us, this was the largest crowd Wolfmother had played to; the first stop on their North American Tour, and the largest crowd the 75 year old PNE Forum has experienced in over a decade. Wolfmother has visited Vancouver three times in the last year, having sold out each venue.

For anyone who knows my musical tastes, Wolfmother’s self titled cd was selected as my number one pick for 2006 (although actually released in October of 2005). After the opening act, The Icarus Line , finished their set, I was concerned about the acoustics in the Forum as I found most of Icarus’ set was sound like one song blended into another. However, their theatrical showmanship made up for the poor sound. The singer strutted, full scarf ensemble a la Steve Tyler, and did the hands on hips swagger channelling Mick Jagger. As well, there is nothing more humbling than having to be your own roadies at a big gig. I think Wolfmother chose well for their opening act as The Icarus Line definitely warmed up the crowd with their antics. (As well, the crowd seemed familiar with their songs Up Against the Wall, and Party the Baby Off.)

The energy in the room prior to Wolfmother taking the stage was palatable. The bass sound system was turned up to the point where I could feel it in my throat as if eating it. Then when the three unassuming men took the stage, the audience lost it. Body/crowd surfing ensued, and I was crushed to the front (which reminds me - the blue stage lighting/smoke has got to go as none of my pictures turned out!). Kudos to security who only got physical with one clearly out of control fellow - they put up with spilled drinks, tossed water bottles, thrown clothing and helped each of the crowd-surfing kids down at front and off into the crowd again.

The audience was an eclectic mix, with mostly younger fans attending as this was an all ages show. I even managed to glimpse some white unicorn getups and full afro wigs in honour of singer, 31 year old Andrew Stockdale. (I swear, I have never seen a hairier band than this - when the lead singer would smile, all you saw were white chiclets amidst wild hair.) Chris Ross was clearing favouring one leg and I was curious what injury he had experienced. (Later found out that While playing a gig in Copenhagen, Denmark, Feb. 17/07, he injured his foot.) He limped over to his keyboards and had a seat - playing both bass and keyboards (although he semi stomped on his bass when it was not performing as he wished - roadies quickly fixed the situation). He is also very physical with his keyboard, often playing it on a slant or in some distorted fashion. Myles Heskett on drums is mesmerising to watch, whether he waves a Canadian flag or not. These three Australians have clearly been adopted by Canada and I believe the feeling is mutual.

The fact that the band plays a Led Zeppelin tribute was not lost on me as they are so similar to Led Zeppelin, it is almost too comfortable (for me) - ha, intimating my age range here.

All the songs , White Unicorn, Mind’s eye, Dimension, Woman, Love Train, and Joker & the Thief draw huge audience approval, and Andrew kept thanking the crowd, almost self-consciously, for the adulation. He also strutted and stomped across the stage during songs - almost a dual personality - arrogant rock star during songs, humble musician between songs.

This is what surprised me - despite the Forum being horrible for live acts - Wolfmother’s set was seamless. The vocals were crisp and I could hear every word. It was a terrific gig, one that I will remember, and the audiences’ enthusiasm for this young trio will stay with me. I have to laugh when I think about Faith No More’s producer going on about how much Wolfmother ‘suck’, well, Matt Wallace, if only your band had ‘sucked’ this much...

Wolfmother continues rocking its way across Canada, selling out venues in the first four provinces. Don’t be surprised if their next tour involves larger and more crowded venues.

The first image is from Wikipedia and the latter is from my sad set. Ah well...

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