Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Songs from Reunion Tour || The Independent || San Francisco, CA

Its the last, last night of watching the Weakerthans perform their entire catalogue of music at the Independent in San Francisco.  Over the last four nights we have met new friends from afar, relived our youth and felt like we were all witness to and part of something very special.  Here is an article from the SF Weekly that articulates the inner Weakerthan geek that we all unashamedly possess.  These shows have been a chance to be among our like-minded.

So on night four, as the Weakerthans break into Civil Twilight, I think about Winnipeg’s Confusion Corner and how much colder it must be there today.  For the record it is ONE degree Fahrenheit.  They move on through Reunion Tour like it is a familiar friend.  They are much more comfortable with it than the songs of Fallow.  There is a rumor that the San Francisco curling team is here.  So, when the entire band skips a verse of Tournament of Hearts this is even more comical.  This is the curlers song, after all.  It may be the only one in existence.  Only Jason seemed to notice the missing part.  After a couple of humorously failed attempts to play from the missed verse on – Jason moves on by starting Virtute Explains her Departure without consensus from the rest of the band.  They all fall in line and move on.  The mistake was well played.  The thing I love about this band is that they never take themselves too seriously.  They play with the comfort, ease and humor as they are playing a friend's house party.

Greg is always blurry!

Virtute Explains Her Departure is always a hard song for me.  The ache they have somehow instilled in this song hurts me particularly this year because I’ve left my geriatric dog at home while I go on vacation.  Just a few years back he was in the backseat of my car on a 2,800 trip from Atlanta to San Francisco and now my buddy is too old to do so.  So, though I know he is at home safe, my guilt wells up and mixed with the mortality in this song its a little much for me these days.  I know that according to JKS, the cat just ran away, but to many of us that is nearly the same as Virtute meeting his or her mortality.

With whiskey in hand, JKS does his Gump Worsley tribute.  A treat I don’t think I ever got to see when they actually toured for this album.  They are wiping the cobwebs off this one…. And the people love it. 

Sun in an Empty Room brightens up the mood and we are all big grins.  How does JKS write such universal songs about such a basic subject like moving and make you love it so much? Because it's about so much more.  

In order of appearance on the record, Night Windows and Bigfoot follow – both magical songs about things beyond our reach, I think they are nestled well together.  A guest French horn player is brought to the stage for Bigfoot.  This song would not be the same without those beautiful horns.

John moves over the keyboard, Jason gets out the xylophone and the French horn player returns and Reunion Tour seems like a goal we have all reached together.  A song of celebration, that we have made it (almost) to the end of this marathon.  No one got hurt, fun was had by all and all our voices are hoarse from singing along…

The bookend to all this is Utilities: a tender, vulnerable song that kind of questions our purpose in life and hopes for definition.  But the best part about this whole night in my opinion is to see John’s devilish smirk as he plays his ONE guitar solo.  The crowd cheers!  John smiles and gladly takes in the applause.  It’s adorable. I really miss Rusty’s back up vocals on this one though.

At this point they have played every single song they have released on an album.  Most of the band leaves the stage and John performs the crowd pleaser One Great City.  I think back to being in the Winnipeg Underground at the dollar store. What follows is kind of a greatest hits collection: Futon Revolutionist, Aside, Left and Leaving and Plea.  I love that Plea from a Cat named Virtute is just abbreviated as “Cat” on the set list.  None of the Above was a surprise as one of the last songs, but it did kind of make us all stop, breathe and realize this little treasure they have given us over the past four days was closing up and moving on.  

They end the night with the magnificent finally that is Manifest! And as I start to sing along and stomp my feet I think to myself “Wait!  This song is so short!  No!  It’s really almost over.”

And just like that it is.

But I need sleep.  My voice is hoarse and my feet have stopped taking me where I want to go.  So, it’s time to move on. As I write this, back on the flight to Atlanta, I think to myself how lucky I am to have experienced this twice and I hope chance smiles so kindly on me again someday.

See you next time guys!

So, for those that are left wanting more, we have a John K. Samson solo album to look forward to in January and a small US tour to follow.  Check out video this – but beware it’s gonna get stuck in your head.  The album is called Provincial and you can pre-order it HERE.  As to why JKS did not mention this to four sold out crowds of his fans... well, I guess that's just his way.  


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