Friday, January 11, 2013

Music T Fridays: Home For a Rest

The first week back was an exhausting week for reasons that I can't actually write about here. (So much so that it's actually Monday now. Apologies.)

  

I believe I bought today's t-shirt at the Commodore Ballroom's Saint Patrick's Day show in 2012 which I attended with Vancouver musician, Stars & Ivy. For most of my BC life since university, "Home For a Rest" has been the close out anthem of any club or pub or dance I attended and I naturally assumed that every West Coaster within a decade of my age should know the band and its music. When my husband-to-be (who was born and raised out here) claimed to have no idea who Spirit of the West was, I had to assume that he was seriously b-s-ing me for some reason. In 2011, I dragged him to the Vogue for a show and he finally admitted he recognized the songs but maintains that, until that night, he had no idea who the band was.

 

John Mann, co-founder and front man for SotW, is even dearer to my heart for his turn as The Narrator in the Arts Club production of Blood Brothers back in 2011. I refer to Blood Brothers as my "sentimental favourite" musical since the general "favourite" musical often shifts over time. The Arts Club production was probably my tenth time seeing the show performed and the choices they made for a more intimate show were effective and creative. Mann, as The Narrator - a character device who carries much of the momentum of the show - was powerful in his delivery and did the necessary lurking with grace and presence. Willy Russell created in Blood Brothers a show wherein the plot, in a manner of speaking, is a character in itself, with its own motivation and vocation separate from the choices of the characters. Whether it is driven by superstition, pre-destination, or class, is a question left to the audience to decide.

I also remember that at my very first SotW concert, Mann was the one who threatened to leave the stage if the audience didn't stop trying to mosh and injure the folks at the front of the stage. I thought that was the most refreshingly responsible thing I'd ever heard a musician say. I was probably nineteen at the time but understood that there are a select number of bands out there, of which SotW is one, that recognize their fans as more than just ego-boosters and cash-cows. The loyalty of SotW's fanbase spawns from the band's respect for others as well as their consistent focus on the music and the well-being of the members. I think they perform because they love it and if they ever stopped loving it, they'd stop to figure out why.  We could all do well to take that step back once in a while and re-assess whether we love what we do still. Usually, it's a positive reinforcement for the challenges we set for ourselves. Sometimes, it's a necessary evil.