Canada delights at Berklee

A review of The New Pornographers and k-os at the Berklee Performance Center on December 12, 2007

, Editor-in-Chief

Rush, Bryan Adams, and Neil Young. All are Canadians who have enjoyed years atop the charts. Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, and Feist. All are Canadians who have been recently praised for their new music. Yet, despite all these great bands from north of the border, we’re probably quicker to sing “Blame Canada” instead of “Oh Canada” when asked about our northern neighbors. On Wednesday night, Boston’s Berklee College of Music dedicated a whole night in honor of Canada’s musical impact.&

On hand for the special concert, which was aired live on Sirius Canada satellite radio, were two more of the country’s best, The New Pornographers and k-os. Both are household names in their native land but south of the border, they are now starting to rise from the underground.&

Back from a tour of Europe, the New Pornographers headlined the show sans vocalist Neko Case. Though she was sorely missed, frontman A.C. Newman and company still managed to pull off a solid yet all to brief set. The band kicked off their set with “All The Things That Go To Make Heaven and Earth”, a rocking standout tune off their new release, Challengers. Fan favorite “Use It” followed before the band began to slow things down for a bit. “Adventures In Solitude" showcased beautiful shared harmonies between Newman and keyboardist/vocalist Kathryn Calder. The slow building tune also featured drummer Todd Fancey switching between his drum kit and an acoustic guitar.& &

It was a pretty much a straight forward set though Newman did banter with the crowd while tuning his guitar at one point, quipping “We’re at Berklee, we gotta be in tune,” and then asking why Berklee is spelled with a double “e”. The band’s biggest hit "Sing Me Spanish Techno" off of Twin Cinema was electrifying before an awesome cover of ELO\’s "Don\’t Bring me Down" closed out the set. Time was The New Pornographers worst enemy as they could only fit in nine songs in their 50-minute set.&

K-os was thoroughly entertaining with a set that was made for a club but not so much for a theatre. The Toronto-based rapper made the venue work though from the moment he hit the stage. With great energy he delivered a 45-minute set that began with “Electrik Heat / The SeekWill” and closed with crowd favorite “Sunday Morning. Backed by an impressive band and DJ, k-os delighted the crowd with his multiple talents. He rapped, he beat-boxed, he played guitar, and he free-styled.& At one point during his set, he called live hip-hop a great art.& Such is the truth and finding someone who excels at it so well is not easy, but k-os seems to have it down very well.&

Earlier in the night, a few of Berklee’s own Canadian students paid tribute to some of their idols. All were great performances but it was Tara Keith highlighted the students’ set. Her rendition of Chantal Kreviazuk’s “Feels Like Home” with elegance and grace was a pleasant surprise. The show opened with a great set for blues fans courtesy of veteran Bill King and his Saturday Nite Fish Fry band.

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