i couldn't have had a bigger contrast going from montreal to toronto..aside from the musical differences between the shows (and they were pretty significant for a tour like this)..the crowd in montreal was far less than 200. toronto looked to me at least 1500..it was a bar in mon and a big concert hall (ala the tower theater, warner in dc or old stanley in pgh)...i wont use this to describe too much detail from our area in montreal but it was different...i keep feeling that these folks don't watch too much tv, so they learn more life on the street i suppose..lots of ciggies everywhere...prostitutes out in the open standing TOGETHER under a bus stop pass...in a zoned place...if you've never been there, its an old city and far more influenced by europe than the us(mostly nyc) than toronto which was the same as a us city for all purposes of ours...
toronto looks like a clean modern spread out philly feel...pretty, in fact very safe, great simple subway system..and yes there was no litter....im not saying one is better but in my mind we could all turn the tv off and gain back more power over our lives, but that's for another day...nighttime in mon was another planet for sure and not just because of the french lingo..in sharp contrast, nighttime (and day) in tor was just like any other decent sized US city....i liked em both a lot but for different reasons obviously
TL: everyone knows TL is a prog rock god and one of the all time bassists in rock lore. he is one of the few who have mastered the chapman stick a bass with a bunch more strings that requires a different technique to play it-other than the dude for bela fleck, i don't know anyone else doing it now..the possibilities arte endless on this thing and we saw it a lot in montreal....as for the sound, it did significantly lower the bottom end of the bands sound..he played it for about half the set in the looser, jammier montreal show but it disappeared in toronto completely..pure bass ala kaz at the danforth..and just maybe before the show someone (tr or tl) realized that a simple bass would be a better choice for the "big show"..they were right...tony did lots of cool creative stuff on the stick and working it into this scene could be wonderful but i do believe they do need to work on the sound to more match a deep bass sound that todds music live needs...there really is a standard bass sound that has developed based on the nature of the previous players (ks, l tagg) and the material of course...that was there when TL went to the fender
there were also some points where i felt TL must have felt restricted just laying down a bassline (for instance on the c-g-f one world or istl) and very rarely but sometimes would miss a note. it is doubtful that tony has played any music so harmonically simple for many years. there was some uncertainty in spots as to the PRECISE part/timing...an example was the coda of FC, TL rarely came down every time on the one, so it shifted your focus..part of this is him finding the way that they want to play it..so it was a bit different to let go of some of these dynamics that PP and KS had honed down and it was the way we knew it..we smiled all nite as tony amazed us and snapped away! go to his website for pictures of the tour...also a very very nice man but you get the feeling if this thing goes on that tony will have a big impact on the direction/feel of the live sound..exciting!!!
JM: i got the chance to talk to jerry after montreal for a few minutes .i learned a bit about the prep for this... JM is one of my all-time favorites and his time is precise to a watch..go the TLB website to see his body of work..he is especially a studio wizard and so, his playing is not as heavy-in fact he never really pounds his wide open Hi hat the way that PP does but he does wallop the snare/toms baby and hits pretty hard-but is solid and precise as a rock..todd called him in montreal "a slab of concrete"- im not overstating when i say for solid time keeping, he is there is no one better. period. the only person i can thing of that is close would be Jaki Lebeziet from Can. the point is we shouldn't compare, todds constant use of PP makes it harder to adjust, but i freaking loved it. todd didn't have PP on this tour, or KS for that matter so we shouldn't expect the sounds to be all the same and they weren't. and that is a good thing..hard to get real tight in 7 dates but they did wonders..there were places where the dynamics differed some from the 95-96 verisons (for instance black and white) and there seemed to be also some tempo differences in Montreal with ISP where todd was trying to push jerrry faster w/ body language ..also each nite i saw todd start WWE very fast and jerry had to stake his claim tempo wise slightly behind it to try to slow it up some but it was a bit fast..so fast that the "landlady ended up in cement rather than the bill"..but the sucker rocked! rock solid!.hawking was breathtaking-this has to be the way tr envisioned the very difficult drum part (urbano never did get it)-floating like as a feather, yet solid .all of these things tempo and dynamic problems should have existed in far greater quantities than they did for 2 people to have never played with todd and only being 7 dates.jm added a great deal vocally and i like the blend of voices here better than the previous bands..i think even when tony sang the blend was better naturally than the guys before..it is a testament to the professionalism of these players that they could get it so together in this short of time..they were playing around a bit in montreal, but it was rote by toronto..i love jm-he is a gentle man, a great player and a fine addition to the core..i hope this band stays together and even records together-it could be the start of a remarkable era if these guys keep with him and keep adding to the list..we could all be coming to bigger venues everywhere if this happens. what a treat to finally see mr moratta live-it was worth the trip by itself for me just to see him.
JG: what can i say except that jesse was the music. there is no way this tour could have taken place with any other human in his spot. he mocked a hammond b3 on SB, he played all over the neck and covered a huge load of instruments all by himself. i remember looking up in wonder as he played the figure in mammon while singing the "oh holy father" part...wwe, T sanity..the guy put on a clinic all nite long..to have to arrange these songs (many of which had MANY keyboard parts) and make em sound right was a tremendous feat by itself. only someone with the technical prowess of JG and the intensive knowledge of todds music could have pulled it off, JG didn't simply "pull it off" he knocked it out of the ballpark..his joe pass/steve lukkather solo on SB, his solos on the cover tunes (that worked real well)- yes there were parts that couldn't be covered without keyboards (larry fast next tour?) but who's bitching about it? not me. yes we are spoiled here in todd land with great musicians but jesse gress, to me, is the greatest of all the players todd has had for the impact he has had on todds live solo thing. i am in awe more than ever and it simply cannot be measured as to jesse's contribution to the scene. its impossible now to even think of where we would be if he hadn't taken lyle workman's place back in 91. he is music. period...in montreal, todd called him "the yin to my yang"..high praise indeed. and well deserved i might say. he certainly has invested a lot of his life in this music. thank you from all of us.
but those there made up for it by being crazy and i mean crazy for tr.
there was no griping anywhere about the newer stuff-it went over just as well as the classics all nite long. at the end, i expected tr to say something but he really had as few words as ive ever seen him. it was all about delivery of the goods and the show was a stone "almost perfect" classic show..against the backdrop of the cars thing and his last solo venture in 2005, it had to warm his heart to see such rabid fandom in a large theater by himself and not under the cars, abbey or ringo monikers, this was todd land-like a drink of water after a long thirst, it was victory
...i do think this tour and this particular show will be marked as a significant milepost in todd lore. many of us long timers were concerned that we may not get to see as much tr with band tours if at all and our prayers were answered with this one. to that end, todd did say to the crowd that we "were the only ones to see this particular incarnation of the band and that we should pray to whatever we pray to that this can continue." amen.