Live Show Review: Capital Grass and the No Men

What better way to cap off a beautiful early summery day than to head out to the tavern to take in an evening of energetic live music?  That’s what I did Saturday night, when Capital Grass and the No Men played the Emldale Tavern (along with Slim & Popular and Jon Laurie-Beaumont).

A rather lengthy review (with pictures!) is below, after the jump.

Slim and Popular

  Slim and Popular opened up the night, putting on what is best described as a frenetic show.  I was informed that this was only their second official gig, so I did take that into account when I realized that they were kind of half-way between playing for themselves and playing for the audience.  The bassist, who in my opinion strikes a remarkable resemblance to Dan Fogler (and I don’t mean that in bad way), played a solid set but didn’t display the same kind of energy as the lead singer (who, Vanessa says, liked to make funny facial expressions).  They went from song to song without skipping a beat, and while I liked their high-energy punk-laced tracks, I really enjoyed their slower songs – which I thought were good, if not better, than the fast-paced opening tunes.  In particular I really liked the last song they played.

Jon Laurie-Beaumont & his band

Jon Laurie-Beaumont was next, and provided an entirely different sound than Slim and Popular.  His is more bluesy, and added some additional interest by including a violinist in his backing band.  I liked his set, as it slowed down the pace a bit to give everyone a breather (and a nice, lounge-ey atmosphere) before getting into Capital Grass.  I liked his stage banter and sense of humour, and he played some very entertaining music.

The main show of course was Capital Grass and the No Men.  It had been a long time since I last saw them live, and Saturday night they had the fullest on-stage band I’ve ever seen them with.  First, they had a new bassist – Ken Workman (of Ken Workman & The Union fame), as well as Neil McDaniel on the keyboard.  As usual, regular members include Matt Gower was on Banjo/Mandolin/sometimes guitar/lead vocals, Wayne Coulis on lead guitar (who performed extremely well, despite an apparently disfigured thumb), and D’Arcy McGuire on drums.  The resulting sound was really FULL, and the keyboard added some extra ooomph (especially when in “organ” mode).  The band played 14 songs (plus an encore, as demanded by the loud audience), offering samples from their latest CD as well as some older songs, and a cover of Radiohead’s Street Spirit.

Capital Grass and the No Men perform (with loud shirts)

I thought that the band was sounded its best when they played “Honey in My Coffee” and “Demon Ghost”, displaying some really good instrument arrangement with a really full sound.  I don’t know how else to describe it really, but those two songs stood out to me as the best-sounding tunes.  Again, I’ve heard both of these many times before, but having 5 instruments helped make a more complete sound.

Wayne Coulis mastering the guitar despite a disfigured thumb

One thing I noticed Saturday night was that CGATNM seem to be sliding into a slightly psychedellic sound in some of their songs, most noticeable with their song “Blur the Lines” (so it should be no surprise that I was about to pair it with another psychedellic band on the podcast before I cut the track for length).  I think it’s partly the addition of the keyboard/organ to the mix, but it’s interesting to note the difference in sound from only a year or so ago.  It could also just be all in my imagination.

We believe Matt was temporarily phasing out of time here – hence the fading hand.

It was a very entertaining show, and it was great to hear some new (new to me anyway) artsits like Slim and Popular, and Jon Laurie-Beaumont.  Looking forward to the next show!

If you want to see all the photos from my camera (and see the ones here at full-size), you can see them at this flickr photo album:

1 thought on “Live Show Review: Capital Grass and the No Men”

  1. Ha, thanks, Steve. You're not the first to mention the Dan Fogler thing (maybe I should shave). That was an early S&P show, and we have since then changed drummers as well.You can hear the new lineup live on CKCU on Charles Anthony's "Ottawa Live Music" show April 19.Hope to see you at some future shows.Larry


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