The Great Hall in Toronto, ON
December 20, 2013
Review by: Lee Fraser
Photos by: Allison Janzen
A fun and inspiring evening with Danny Michel during the holidays.
When you need to restore your faith in humanity, just go to a Danny Michel show. From the opening countdown recording, complete with request to turn down the house lights and endearing looks from Danny, you are enveloped in a blanket of goodness and fun.
Danny Michel is a reminder that you can be socially conscientious and still have fun. Even during songs like “Feather Fur and Fin” or “If God’s on Your Side”, you’re still singing along at the top of your lungs with a big grin. Who does that? Who gets you to sing along to a song about what your meaningful purpose is on this earth? It’s the Converse-wearing, maracas-shaking Danny Michel.
It’s not just the infectious Danny; the whole band oozes with joy and fun. Davide Direnzo has fantastic facial expressions that belie the serious talent behind his percussion skills. Mark McIntyre bounces along to his tropical flavoured bass lines and almost makes you believe you’re hanging out with the band in Belize. Speaking of Belize, Danny has managed to raise more than $50,000 to send local kids to a small island school in that country, a fact that he was humbled and proud to announce to the supportive and vocal crowd.
Danny Michel is joined on this tour by Hill Kourkoutis, who not only attended Space Camp, but is an extraordinary vocalist and keyboardist. On this tour, Danny also showcases her skillful playing of a Gibson SG guitar and a six-string banjo. Speaking of banjo, what could be more fun than a banjo solo? During the very upbeat tune “Wish Willy”, none other than Fred Penner came out on stage to join the band to do a killer harmonica solo. Fred Penner! “Take that, hipsters” said Danny Michel, all a-glow with childish glee.
The appearance of Fred Penner was just one stand-out at this antics-filled show. Chocolate was awarded to a fan for having previously seen opening act, Quique Escamilla. There was a Q&A portion of the show, in which we learned that the headstock of Danny' guitar is adorned with "THE FIRST LADY" written on Dymo tape. And in a life-saving move, Hill put her Space Camp learnings into practice by pouncing on and resolving a critical electrical issue. All in a day's work at a Danny Michel show.
But back to the meat of the show. There were plenty of songs from his latest recording, mixed up with plenty of golden oldies for those in the crowd that are long-time fans. Even though the band only threatened to play “Run Run Rudolph” about a half dozen times, there was a definite holiday spirit to the show. They ended the night with an acoustic cover, Dire Straits' “Walk of Life”, which they performed in the midst of the crowd. Danny and his band left everyone on a high note, a most welcome interlude in this crazy holiday season.