SHOW REVIEW: Grant-Lee Phillips
Live at the Horseshoe in Toronto, Canada on September 11, 2003
By: NICK MLATCHKOV
Playing a show at the Horseshoe in Toronto on 9/11 is something aspiring Americana singer GRANT LEE PHILLIPS would remember the rest of his life. This time his fate was much more favourable. A sunny bright day, the warmest so far this winter, preceded a quiet, fresh evening when he took the same stage 2 1/2 years later. Dressed in a colourful cowboy shirt and sporting his signature 12-string guitar he was in an excellent mood joking before the opener. This was the first stop on tour supporting his latest effort "Virginia Creeper", out on Feb 17. A native of Stockton, CA, Phillips possesses a velvety voice which shines on brightly in a music world already dominated by plenty of voiceless creatures. After a hesitant start he soon gained full control of his vocal range. It meterialized in a series of masterpieces beginning with "Josephine Of The Swamps". A little change in direction towards Americana fits him in perfectly. Every song on this album's got its own future live. Cindy Wasserman added lovely backup vocals, Dave Carpentar, who sits in with John Doe, frequently used a bow on his upright bass, while drummer Kevin Jarvis was precise with brushes. Grant-Lee told Cindy once to "shake it", obviously refering to the tambourine. He performed the pilot single "Mona Lisa", which he also did in "The Gilmore Girls" on Feb 10th. Its catchy, beautiful melody deserves huge airlpay and a Grammy next year. Then they switched to a cover of Lucinda Williams and Gram Parsons' "Hickory Wind", both performed brilliantly. At that point the audience was soundless, spellbound on the spur of the moment. There's something magical in the air the whole night which made Grant-Lee exclaim "I need to play in these parts more often!" He praised the devoted crowd on a few occasions, though unlike his sold out Largo, LA performances, only two hundred people showed up to witness Phillips' little vocal wonders. A short, very pretty girl had made her hair beautiful in an attempt to grab his attention. She even cried silently after the Parsons tune. For the encore Phillips'd chosen a George Jones ballad and the furious Charlie Daniels resembling "Calamity Jane" which some call a blue collar hoedown. Simply wonderful!
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