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The Wilderness of Manitoba and Octoberman, The Slaughtered Lamb, Clerkenwell, May 4th 2010

May 5, 2010

Day two of my stalking a bunch of Canadian musicians…. no wait, that’s not fair. I’m just happy with the idea that if you like something, then do it again. I’d enjoyed The Wilderness of Manitoba at The Windmill, so I decided to see them again at The Slaughtered Lamb, courtesy of the excellent Electroacoustic Club. The promoter Will said ‘hi’ as he’d recognised my name from lots of ticket-holder lists and it was good to have a mini-chat with him as I filed into the club – just after The Magic Numbers, as it happened. Will promotes Mondays to Wednesdays at The Slaughtered Lamb as well as at The Luminaire, Cargo, the Union Chapel and elsewhere through ‘Pull Up The Roots’, and a very fine set of acts he books too.

The place was busier than I’d imagined, but then I saw the banner behind the stage (obscuring the upside-down pentagram) – ‘Canadian Blast’. It turns out this is ‘a platform run by the Canadian Independent Music Association to promote and develop Canadian talent around the world’. Hmmm… I wasn’t quite sure about the ‘Blast’ bit – the evening couldn’t possibly have been less explosive, but you know what marketing people are like. So the place was full of Canucks, which was fine by me, as they’re lovely people, except that they’re fatally attracted to the ghastly Sleeman’s Canadian beer that they coincidentally serve in The Slaughtered Lamb. I guess every nation has its terrible flaws.

The start of the non-explosive proceedings was Octoberman, a singer-songwriter from Toronto. I hadn’t heard any of his music and suspected a Neil Young-alike. Battered acoustic guitar? Check. Harmonica with holder? Check. Check shirt? Check… He began with Ambulance Chasing, which was rather more Elliott Smith than Neil Young, but his second song was a touching tribute to his grandparents and showed a wider musical vista.

Octoberman eating up his Cheerios

He then invited the three fellas from The Wilderness of Manitoba and the set became livelier and more fun. In fact, Marc ‘Octoberman’ said he normally plays with a band, so perhaps I was being unfair on him by suggesting he was a wallflower. Indeed, as travel becomes more expensive and music less lucrative, quite a number of artists travel solo through necessity, which gives an interesting insight not only into their solo chops, but also into the nature of their songs when they’re stripped of the comfort blanket of a band. I remember a great evening at The Borderline a couple of years ago with Gary Louris of The Jayhawks. He’d meant to bring a band over to Europe, but failed, so he said he could do an evening of solo songs, many of which he’d never performed solo in public before. The evening turned out great – funny and intimate – so every cloud and all that.

Octoberman and his compadres pleased the Canadian crowd even more with a ragged but righteous version of Neil Young’s Pardon My Heart before closing with a couple more of his own songs. A fine set.

The Wilderness of Manitoba played almost the same set as the previous night, but it was just as good and just as much fun. I hadn’t mentioned that Scott the singer goes barefoot on stage, perhaps in hippie homage to Graham Nash, and his blowing of the owl whistle is impressive again – though bashing Melissa’s singing bowl as if it were one of John Bonham’s cymbals is definitely uncool…

Once more, the singing was spot on, without being clinical, while the playing, particularly by Will on guitar and Stefan on cello, was top-notch. None of this stopped the evening from feeling relaxed and friendly, thankfully. And this time, I’d taken enough cash to buy their EP. Apparently a full album is out this summer, so that’ll be a definite purchase for the sunny days ahead.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. The Suit permalink
    May 6, 2010 6:19 pm

    Well, you never mentioned this one….

  2. brandnewguy permalink*
    May 7, 2010 10:09 am

    That’s because I didn’t decide until that morning, having liked them the night before in Brixton… and I assumed you’d be in election ‘purdah’ 🙂

  3. wallernotweller permalink
    June 16, 2010 6:28 am

    interview i did with octoberman:

    • brandnewguy permalink*
      June 16, 2010 4:32 pm

      Nice one – thanks!

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