Dance while the sky crashes down

We got a chance to see Jason Webley‘s last Toronto show for quite some time. Before the show i got a chance to sit down and chat with him about the rest of his tour and his upcoming hiatus as well as previous projects I’m familiar with such as Evelyn Evelyn. Jason is on his last tour for quite sometime because he feels that it’s time to take a break. Up next after hitting up a few more North American dates he will be taking his tour to Europe and not just the standard fare like France and the UK. He will be taking an extensive tour of Eastern Europe and even going back to Russia where he finds his music is very well received and the crowds have very high energy.

During his hiatus he may work on some new music but nothing is definite at this point in time. I was curious about the Evelyn Evelyn project he made with Amanda Palmer and he let me know that they never really intended on making an entire album. Evelyn Evelyn was just a way to make some music together in a very fun light, so why not do something slightly circus themed. Not expecting it to blow up like it did, but thankfully that did bring Jason here last summer which is what urged me to listen to more of his music and make the trip over to Mitzi’s Sister to see the show. For those of you who didn’t go you missed a hell of a show.

Opening the night was a semi local folk musician Anthony Damiao. Hailing from Waterloo, Onatrio, Anthony is a big fan of Jason Webley and seized the moment when he found out Jason was coming to town. He let me know that he had personally emailed Jason back asking to open for him during his Toronto show. It obviously worked because he showed up bringing some friends to the show and made a bunch of new ones on the way. Anthony has a very unique quirky blend of folk music, most of it is normally accompanied by a banjo, but this evening he just stuck to solo singing and a guitar. I personally loved that he told quirky little stories and anecdotes before each song, the set had a very intimate yet lighthearted feel. Out of all the songs he played I loved “Lazy Bones” and “Walk Around” the best. He’s currently finishing up his album and has informed me that Lazy Bones will be complete with double bass once it’s finished. Until then he is going on tour with The Blackwood Two and headed out east. I hope to see him again when he returns and you should take the chance to see it too.

After that there was a girl by the name of Marie-Josee who came down from Ottawa and played a few songs on the accordion. I was slightly disappointed in her lack of energy and sitting down the entire time during the set, although I am aware that accordions are heavy instruments, it just seemed more appropriate for a cafe in the background than a concert. She did, however, perform a very interesting cover of a Tom Waits song and was very skilled at what she did, sadly it did not peak my interest.

Finally we get to Jason’s set, just on time, as he’s slightly worried that it’s going to be a late show on a Tuesday night no one seems to be that concerned and just wants to hear his music. He started off the set with “Dance while the sky crashes down”, and in great fashion as I’ve seen at his shows before, he paused his set to let the audience know that they could in fact sing along to it and it was quite easy, if we feel that he was going to say the words that were in the title and the urge to scream it along as loud as we could, it was probably a good idea and we were most likely right. Not many artists start on such a high energy and I loved it. He played a few more songs before starting to play “Elephant, Elephant” which he wrote with Amanda Palmer as part of Evelyn Evelyn, only to stop and let us know that he wasn’t going to play it but instead was going to tell us a story. This story involved an awards ceremony at which people received awards for very outlandish research and the theme was Bacteria, so he wrote a song called “Bacteria, Bacteria”. That song sounded suspiciously like that of Elephant Elephant, and it was fantastically written and easy to sing along to if you knew the words to the original.

His set was shortly interrupted by a series of 80s covers on the accordion. Advising us that he was aware this was the most boring part of the concert for us, it was the most interesting for him because he’s sick of his own songs. Starting off with Billie Jean by Michael Jackson, and bringing out a large bottle of pennies to shake while he played “Eye of the Tiger” on request, it quickly turned into a medley of whatever anyone could yell out and slipping right out of the 80s entirely. On my request he attempted to play a T.Rex song which was amusing as he made up words and sounds as he went along until we got to the chorus “get it on, bang a gong, get it on”, the impromptu feeling medley brought great applause from the audience and after which he begged us to come closer to the stage and fill in the little gap.

A few of the audience members came and sat down and some of the rowdier ones at the back were offered by Jason himself to have their rounds of beer purchased for them at the bar next door. Earlier on in the evening, we were reminded of this great techno 90s dance hit called “Hockey Star” and reminded of all the call backs that you would hear in the clubs. Well that oh so great song that we all know and love came back into play and everyone sang and danced along with great energy. I’ve been caught over the past week singing in bizarre voices “my hair is a very very long hair, it’s short and long, long long short and long” because it’s so damn catchy.

Just before finishing up his set, Jason tossed out a giant bag containing bottles full of pennies for the audience to play with and shake along to the music. It would get a bit crazy at times, but it was extremely great fun. He played everything I wanted to hear except for one song, and a bunch of ones I had never heard live before. I’m sad that his tour in Canada has come to a close, and if you missed it, it might be worth taking the trip down to the states to see him play again.


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