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03 November 2009 @ 12:01 am
Song of the Week #67 / Dream Trip to Toronto: Tara MacLean Live at Hugh's Room  

Song starts at 1:39

I don’t even know where to start this week. Please excuse the rambling and choppiness, there was a lot to empty out of my brain and some or none may make sense.

For background on how I became a Tara MacLean fan – click here.

She is my third favorite musical artist, behind Rush and Marillion, and she’s been there since late 2000, early 2001 (and she’s creeping closer to Marillion every day now). In the link above I tried to explain how I became so enraptured with her music, if you want to delve into that feel free. She is my favorite female singer songwriter and she has not performed solo since she wrapped her Passenger tour in 2000, apart from a one-off in the summer of 2001. When she posted on Facebook earlier this year that she was going to be playing in Toronto for her CD release party I knew that this might be my only opportunity to see her live. She mentioned that with three children under 8 it was really hard to organize a tour and this would be the only show for a few years. I had to be there.

Thanks to friends Terence and Greg’s encouragement and generosity I made the journey to Toronto last Thursday morning. Terence and I have been corresponding for years about Tara, Chantal Kreviazuk, and other Canadian singer/songwriters. Greg has had the pleasure of seeing Tara north of 25 times and is a true wealth of Tara knowledge and was almost a touring buddy of Tara & Bill’s during the 2000 tour. Together with Greg’s friend Lee, we had a great day/night. Thanks so much to those guys!

During the Fall, as the show drew near, Tara began posting on Facebook about her excitement of putting the show together. I threw out a few requests and it turns out that of the four I threw out there, all were performed and two were specifically because I requested them. It was enough to just see her perform live, but to see her in a small, intimate place, ten feet from the stage, was a dream. To have her perform one of my favorite songs of all-time, “Child,” was just amazing, and to have her call it out as a request (and then later she told me that she wanted to play it because I requested it, that was just mind-blowing).

The show was better than I could have expected, after so long away from performing she was nervous about being rusty, but after settling in quickly with her first single, “Evidence,” she sounded beautiful, harmonizing with another great Canadian, Melanie Doane, on a cover of Neil Young’s “Natural Beauty”; rockin’ through a driving version of her biggest single, “If I Fall”; a poignant and breathtaking performance of “Things Outstanding” from her new album (which was dedicated to a very young singer/songwriter who was tragically lost earlier last week); a stunning song sung in Sanskrit which she has been studying for the last couple years, I just closed my eyes and was transported – it was amazing.

I wish I was able to transfer my video to youtube, but I’m still working out how to convert the miniDV to digital, for my pick of the week as she was absolutely amazing and it was one of the four songs I really wanted to hear. It was just another really good song on her Passenger album, until it really connected with me one night after I purchased a few 7” records that Capitol pressed for Jukeboxes and this song was on the b-side – it sounded so warm and crisp on vinyl and it really revealed itself. It was written by a fellow Canadian, Lennie Gallant and is about a child waiting for their parent to come back from traveling on the sea.

Some random notes:

Oedipus, a legendary, long-time radio DJ from Boston introduced her and while this was the first time I saw her, I’ve listened to countless hours of live recordings over the years and he captured my situation perfectly:
“Good evening. My name is Oedipus, and I come from the other side of the border. Boston to be exact. I first fell in love with Tara, the last Millennium. She was helping out a fellow musician and when I first heard her voice I was completely and totally smitten. Now I know many of you in this room probably have similar experiences and for the rest of you who have never experienced her live, prepare yourself for a very long love affair. It is my great honor and my great privilege to present to you, the exquisite, after 8 years, Tara MacLean.”

After the show she was at the merch table and Greg, Terence and I waited for most of the crowd to clear before venturing over. On the way we got to talk to Dahmnait Doyle (who was in the trio Shaye with Tara and Kim Stockwood) and Bill Bell (Tara’s ex-husband who co-produced this new record as well as her previous. He used to tour with her 1997-2000, and now he’s touring with Jason Mraz, producing Justin Nozuka, and also back in the mid-90s worked with Rush’s Alex Lifeson on his solo project, Victor).

At the merch table Greg finished having his set list signed – and she told him that doing some of the old songs, since it had been so long, she was seeing flashbacks and to see him in the audience it was that much more so, “you are a part of my musical history” she told him. When I put the Silence poster in front of her and she started to show it to her sister Bridie, showing both “the dark, and the bright” sides and commenting “that was a looong time ago.” She asked who it was for and I said “Brad.” She looked back up and said:
“Are you THE Brad?”
Me: “If by THE Brad you mean the ‘Child’ request, that would be me.”
Tara: “Brad Par[insert attempt at last name here]! Thank you so much for coming! I want you to know that I played that for you. And I wanted to play it for you. Thank you so much. And ‘Over and Out’ too, that was your request.”

She signed the Silence poster: “To Brad, Thank you for traveling so far to hear me! Just keep the requests coming! Lots of Love, Tara”

A couple hugs and a photo later and it was time to leave Hugh’s Room. I waited 9 years to finally see Tara perform live – after thinking that I never would - and that is what the goal was, to see her live. All of the other moments and happenings were just icing, and there was so much icing it was amazing. She was so nice and lived up to everything I’d heard of both her performances and as a super sweet person. Thanks so much for a wonderful day Tara! Regarding Oedipus’ words, the musical love affair has just started all over again.

There were a couple more hours at the hotel listening to old Tara footage and hearing stories with Greg and then back on a plane at 6:30 the next morning, tired and blissfully happy.

Dry Land
If I Fall
La Tempete
Things Outstanding
Over and Out
Higher (w/ Rob Korb)
Here & Now
Courage My Love (John Levine cover – w/ Naomi Costain)
Natural Beauty (Neil Young cover – w/ Melanie Doane)
Generation Z (w/ Melanie & Naomi)
Bad (U2 cover)

More Tara MacLean:
“Child” (live)
“If I Fall” (live)
“Let Her Feel the Rain” (live)