I’ve had little to complain about weather-wise during my first ever Canadian winter. In fact, local Torontonians widely agree that it’s been the best winter for weather they’ve had since, like, forever. Lovely and mild. And all the while I’ve been wryly chuckling at the immense dumpings of snow the folks back home in England have been buried under over the last few months. This weekend though, it seems, the rain of England has finally followed us all the way over the Atlantic and has eagerly emptied great bucketfuls of the crap down on us. But, after so many years of drowning in the torrents at Glastonbury, I guess it just wouldn’t be a festival without it.
Luckily we didn’t spend that much time getting soaked. And do you know why? Because we didn’t waste half our night being stiffed by the Lee’s Palace nobheads. I’m sorry, but I’m never going to let this one go, especially since every other venue has made a point of being nothing like that. This Friday night the Mod Club on College Street was full to the rafters for Charlie Winston and Bedouin Soundclash and there were loads of lucky wristbanders there to enjoy it! It took us about 15 minutes to get in after they had spoken to us honestly about our chances. There, now how hard was that? I mean, honestly…
Right. To the music. First to the stage was Charlie Winston, an act we knew little about prior to this but will be sure to make ourselves fully acquainted with following this fabulous showing. A talented, stylishly garbed geezer, Charlie switched effortlessly between rousing acoustic rockers, gorgeous piano-driven balladry and some unforeseen exhibitions of beat-boxing. Oh, and songs about being a duck. A real crowd-pleaser, Charlie got the whole place howling out “I know everything about you, your father was a duck!” whilst he boogied on the bar and swayed with the ladies. I guess some guys have it all.
Then it was time for the act we’d all been waiting for, local heroes Bedouin Soundclash. After witnessing first hand the extraordinary nature of Canada’s national pride during the recent Winter Olympics we were fully in the thick of it that night… and we loved every thrilling second. It was such a feel-good set. All memories of the wind and rain evaporated away amidst the sunshine that radiated from the stage and illuminated the swaying crowd with its golden waves. We came away imbued with the spirit of summer. They created such a laid-back atmosphere that a few joints were being merrily toked in the audience. And, with set-closer ‘When the Night Feels My Song’ bringing us all together into one dancing, prancing mass, we really felt the full festival experience on a wet and miserable night in Little Italy.
A quick streetcar through the rain-drenched streets took us to The Horseshoe Tavern for the 2nd time of the festival, for old favourites of mine Hot Hot Heat. Their debut album ‘Make Up the Breakdown’ was a big hit with me and my uni chums back in 2005 amid the madness of our first year in Leeds. I was astonished to discover Hot Hot Heat now actually have more albums than they have H’s, with their forthcoming release to be their fourth. To my immeasurable delight they played a whole four tracks off their first album and, to be truthful, these were the tracks that provoked the most riots in the audience. Ending on their deliciously absurd classic ‘Bandages’ created pandemonium in the cosy venue and provided me the chance to wail perhaps my favourite lyrics ever whilst cavorting like a loon.