Well, the reason I didn’t update my blog yesterday was because I was in Toronto for a concert, so I figured I’d right a blog about it. It was a Cranberries concert. I actually talked a little about The Cranberries on GCRN’s music spotlight where I counted down my top ten bands of the 90’s. Check it out here. I just recently got into The Cranberries and I really dig their music so I was really excited to see them live.
Of course, The Cranberries basically took what Cocteau Twins did and made it popular, but I still enjoy their work. Especially Salvation, I really like that song… What’s that? You don’t know who the hell Cocteau Twins are. Well, that’s what Google’s for, my friend. Anyway, every year for the past four years or so, my best-friend Will gets tickets for my Birthday to go see the band of our choice in either Buffalo or Toronto. So far we’ve seen quite a few, including R.E.M., Modest Mouse, The National, They Might Be Giants, Peter Gabriel, The Flaming Lips, Weezer, Blink-182 and now The Cranberries. I’m not sure I would have been as interested if this wasn’t their triumphant return after a ten-year hiatus, but when I saw that they were playing the Sound Academy in Toronto, it peaked my interest and we chose this as our concert of the year.
I had never been to the Sound Academy before and was a little surprised to discover it located directly on the shore of Lake Ontario in the Toronto harbour-front in an area that looks more like somewhere in Liverpool, England than Ontario, Canada, especially with the grey skies and light rain we were getting yesterday. A little tip to anyone going there: park at the Chinese supermarket up the street, it’s cheaper. Also, there’s no place to eat around there, so plan accordingly. Will and I ended up getting there really early, so we drove into downtown Toronto to eat at an Asian place. Afterwards we came back, wasted time with a walk along the harbour and then got in line. Toronto looks beautiful from that area, with downtown filling the horizon. After an hour-and-a-half of waiting in the world’s most disorganized line-up, we were finally let in. The Sound Academy is just one big floor, so if you do go there, get early so you can get a good spot. There’s no assigned seating or anything. Luckily we were some of the first people in line, so we got spots in the front row, but unluckily not first enough, so our spots were on the very far edge. I was standing (or rather leaning against a guard-rail) in the front right corner where about 45% of the stage was visible. I can’t even tell you what The Cranberries bassist looks like, as two gigantic speakers blocked me from seeing him and half of their drummer for the entirety of the show.
The opening act was some country guy whose name I don’t remember. I’m not a huge country fan, and this guy was pretty much just copy-and-paste country with most lyrics about love, alcohol or both. One of his songs was even called “Love and Alcohol”, I shit you not. It wasn’t entirely bad. The dude and his band had some great energy and it was a fun set. I was intrigued by the fact that The Cranberries ever chose a country artist as their opener. It was an unconventional choice, for sure. Then they finished, the stage was reset and it was time for The Cranberries to come on. They played a pretty standard set; the stuff you’d expect like Dreams, Linger, Zombie, etc., plus at least five songs off of their new album to promote that as well. They also closed the show with Salvation, which made me so happy.
I swear Dolores O’Riordan looked me straight in the eyes at least twice during the concert, but it might have just been in my head. It’s weird being that close to the lead singer of a group I like. I felt vulnerable and guilty when I didn’t know all the lyrics to some of their songs. I’m more of a hide-in-the-back kind of kid, so being this close to the stage was a new thing for me. It’s also interesting to note that O’Riordan actually lives in Ontario now and gave some shout outs to a few people she knows, including her kid’s teachers.
It wasn’t the greatest concert I’ve ever been to (that honour would go hands-down to The Flaming Lips), and it suffered from bad mixing. O’Riordan’s mic could have been cranked up another dozen db or so and everyone else could have been turned down, but it’s harder to get the mix right in a tight, indoor location like that. The band also could have varied up the tempo much more as well. Their songs blended together after a while, where they could have had a much nicer balance of slow and fast. Instead they decided to inject a caffeine shot into every track. It works for some songs like Salvation and Zombie, but not as much for others like Ridiculous Thoughts or Linger. Still, watching Dolores prance and dance around stage was infectious. She made me want to bounce around more, which was difficult considering how sandwiched in the corner I was. It’s hard to believe she’s 40-years-old. She had more energy on that stage than me on a good day. Then again, I’ve never really been known for my energy, unless it’s possible to be energetically cynical or energetically sarcastic. Then yeah, I’m like Robin Williams.
Anyways, it’s a day later, the sound of boiling tea kettles is gone from my left ear and I’m glad I went. The concert had its flaws, but it was fun. And I’m serious about making eye-contact with Dolores O’Riordan. I’m not just making that up.