March 23, 2012

Heaven's Waiting Room

Daniel Lanois at The Great Hall. Image Copyright Stacy Kelly, 2012
Mark and I just returned from seeing iconic producer and songwriter Daniel Lanois live in the basement at The Great Hall.
Lanois was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame on Thursday and he planned to follow that honour up with two concerts in Toronto. Tonight's was the first and all I heard as we left the building was "That was awesome!" repeated over and over again.

Awesome indeed. I took this picture of Lanois with Brian Blade, surely one of the finest drummers on the planet.  Brian laid down some incredible grooves that left the audience in head-shaking-foot-stomping rapture. I have never been so close to such lengendary performers, so I was in a state of shock for a portion of the evening.

Most people know Daniel Lanois as the justly celebrated producer of  artists such as U2, Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel, Neil Young, Emmylou Harris and others, but he has also crafted a catalogue of his own songs across genres of ambient, folk, and rock. Tonight's concert began with a live dub of some of his recent ambient music, accompanied by a video piece that was also edited and mixed live alongside Lanois' dubbing.

This was followed by why we were all really there--a master class in rock trio performance.  Among the highlights, Lanois treated us to some of his songs from his 1989 debut album Acadie, including "Still Water"and a stunning version of "The Maker". He played "The Messenger" and "The Collection of Marie Claire" from his 1993 sophomore album For the Beauty of Wynona, and a great rendition of "Fire" from 2003's  Shine. The apex of the night, however, was a blistering and simply ecstatic version of "Ring the Alarm" from his recent 2010 collaboration, Black Dub. The whole place went nuts and I was mouth-open-awestruck. I think the song soared on for about 15 minutes. At least that's what I remember. Midway through I yelled to the guy to my left, "This is Heaven's waiting room". He smiled and nodded. We were all flaming swords burning in the eyes of the Maker.

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