2005/04/07 The Mod Club; Toronto, ON
there must have been a time when roots rocker kathleen edwards wondered whether she would ever bother again to play in toronto, even though she now calls the city home.
less than three years ago, when she was still based in ottawa, edwards drew something in the neighbourhood of 30 fans to a show at the rivoli. and that was after her debut cd, failer, had received some favourable press locally.
a subsequent concert, edwards recalled during her sold-out show last night at the mod club theatre, was cancelled altogether.
"yeah, why was that?" one shouting patron wanted to know.
"because you, sir, did not buy a ticket," the 26-year-old singer/songwriter bluntly retorted.
edwards, whose debut ended up creating a minor sensation south of the border, can be forgiven if there were moments last night when she appeared to be gloating - or at least enjoying herself immensely. about the only thing capable of hobbling her triumphant stride was the sound system, which sometimes didn't seem equal to the task of handling what she and her band were throwing down.
if velvet revolver or van halen had been on stage, she joked about the hiccups of feedback, you can bet that wouldn't have been a problem.
the early portion of the set leaned heavily on edwards' recent sophomore outing, back to me. the relatively subdued "pink emerson radio" soon gave way to the full-on assault of "in state" and "independent thief." it wasn't until nearly a dozen songs in that she doubled back to failer for 'The lone wolf."
leaving aside the technical glitches, many of the songs seemed more at home in the raucous atmosphere of a club than they do on cd. for all of the folk influences behind the music, edwards is an absorbed and enthusiastic rocker, capable of dropping to her knees and strumming aggressively on the guitar, acoustic or electric.
there were exceptions to that approach, the most notable being a duet with jim bryson, an ottawa singer/songwriter currently playing keyboards in edwards' band, on the dreamily nostalgic "mercury." the rendition of "copied keys" that followed was another high point.
the band didn't hold back anything from "six o'clock news," a familiar track from failer that edwards clearly hasn't wearied of playing. or maybe it was just that she wanted to the audience to realize what they were missing on all those earlier occasions when they failed to show up.