Concerts Concerts Cuff The Duke Wrap It Up with Library Voices

Cuff The Duke Wrap It Up with Library Voices

Cuff The Duke at Horseshoe Tavern
Cuff The Duke, Library Voices
The Hoof and the Heel
Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, ON
November 26, 2010

Review by: Lee Fraser
Photos by: Pete Nema

Offering a great combination for fans of indie rock and alt-country, the Horseshoe was the place to be on a cold and blustery Saturday night.

Cuff The Duke

When describing why the Horseshoe is one of his favourite venues to play, Wayne Petti (vocals, guitar) smiles warmly and says "There’s just something about walking up those stairs onto that stage." The members of Cuff the Duke walked up those stairs for the first time in more than a year, ending their Way Down Here Eastern Canada tour on a high note.

Cuff the Duke kicked off their set accompanied by Michael Boguski, who most recently has been garnering accolades for playing regularly with Blue Rodeo. Wayne toured with Blue Rodeo earlier in the year, so it’s nice to see the cross-pollination. Michael jumped off and back on stage repeatedly through the night, sometimes taking the spotlight with piano solos in place of the usual guitar solos. Another member of the Blue Rodeo circle, Julie Fader, joined the band on vocals for "Rocking Chair", a track from the band’s newest album Way Down Here.

The house full of adoring fans got treated to some pretty broad coverage of all of the band's material. The band opened with the moody and heart-wrenching "Blackheart", a song from their first album. They skillfully drew the audience through a playlist of songs of every tempo and every mood. One highlight was "Follow Me" from the new album, the closest thing alt-country will get to an Irish drinking song. If you were in the audience as a first-timer for Cuff the Duke, this new crowd favourite alone could turn you into a dedicated fan.

The band drew on some of their earliest material, making reference to a gig about a decade ago at the Rivoli, and Wayne’s minimum wage days at Criminal Records. Judging by the collaboration from the audience on "Hey Baby", there were plenty of long-time fans in the audience. Appropriately, during "Surging Revival", a serial stage jumper got up and danced next to Wayne under the watchful eye of backstage security. Wayne was his usual diplomatic self, appreciating the love while not encouraging it.

Adding a little twist to a live show favourite, Corey Wood (drums) was caught off guard by the opportunity to solo. Amidst chants of "CO-REY!" from the floor, the drummer stepped up to the spotlight and laid down some melodic drumming that ended up tying right back into the chorus of "If I Live Or If I Die". This was another highlight of the evening with Wayne, Paul Lowman (bass, violin), and Dale Murray (guitars, pedal steel) looking on with much respect and adoration.

The band ended their regular set with a cover of Elvis Costello's "Radio Radio", which Wayne later remarked "kind of got lost." They dedicated the last song of their encore, "Take My Money And Run", to the folks at the ‘Shoe for having them back again. The pleasure was all ours.

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Library Voices

With a Bookmobile of energy from the first bar of the first song, Library Voices took to the stage like it's their home away from home. Toronto fans have been fortunate enough to witness this party on the stage numerous times in the past couple of years. The audience is quickly infected by the charisma of a large ensemble band that sprinkles songs liberally with hand claps, has every member of the band singing along at the top of their lungs (mic or no mic) and throws in a little digital theremin for extra flavour.

Fans were treated to three new songs, including "Raymond Carver" that kicked off the set list, and a song entitled "Traveler’s Digest". A huge hit with the crowd was the final new song, "Generation Handclap", so new that Carl Johnson (vocals, guitar) read some of the lyrics from a page indiscreetly taped to his mic.

Occasionally at a live show, if you’re lucky, there's a group of people who add to the whole positive environment. Such was the case during Library Voices' set; a gaggle of friends not only sang along, but even created supporting harmonies for "Bodies of Fiction". During nostalgic musings by Michael Dawson (keyboards, guitar) about skateboards and Julie Fader, there were shades of evangelical preaching as one of them yelled out "Say it, brother, say it!"

The set ended with rousing renditions of "Drinking Games" and "Step Off The Map And Float" with enthusiastic singing and dancing, both on and off the stage.

Library Voices are headed to Montreal to record ten new tracks at Breakglass Studios, Jace Lasek’s studio (of The Besnard Lakes). Judging by the reception of the three new songs played tonight, it will be another excellent full-length album.

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The Hoof and the Heel

As Wayne Petti looked on, The Hoof and the Heel opened the night, playing their second show ever in Toronto. This band calls Montreal their hometown, though they are a band with, shall we say, some provenance.

They started off their set meekly, quietly and very seriously. By their third song, both Harris Shper (vocals, guitar) and Christine Hale (vocals, keyboards, artwork) had loosened up and even managed to motivate a few couples to slow dance on the checkered floor of the Horseshoe, a first for me. By the fifth song, the dance floor had filled and the band was having a great time. It was a treat to watch the band’s comfort and energy levels progress as their set list evolved seamlessly from soft, folk music to danceable, clap-along pop tunes.

The Hoof And Heel at Horseshoe Tavern   The Hoof And Heel at Horseshoe Tavern