Canada’s best kept secret take a giant step out of the shadows
Come as You Are is something of an oddity as this professionally filmed concert was made in 2011 as part of a European Tour and lain dormant; presumably waiting for finance before being released now; in the final quarter of 2013.
As a fan of the duo I was also puzzled as to why someone would feel the need to actually film a Madison Violet concert for public consumption; it’s not as if there are dancing girls, amazing light-shows or pyrotechnic displays. What Madison Violet do they do exceptionally well, but Lisa MacIsaac and Brenley MacEachern hardly move three steps away from their respective microphones all night and bass player Adrian Lawryshyn doesn’t even make that second step.
So; what are we left with? Two very attractive singer-songwriters who harmonise as one and can play their guitars, fiddle and mandolin better than just about anyone this side of Texas and the songs….(swoon)….the songs are just enchanting and they appear to have included a couple of new ones; or at least ones I don’t recognise.
The DVD gets off to a great start with The Ransom which is followed by Come As You Are which has a false start when an audience member joins in; much to Brennan’s delight and the band have to start again; which is exactly why I love live music; you just never know what you are going to get. Or do you?
The concert DVD is pretty much the concert from beginning to end with 20 songs; only a couple of which are introduced; with the ones introducing Never Saw The Ending, Cindy Cindy and Christy Ellen Francis being well told stalwarts of all three Madison Violet concerts that I’ve seen; but, just as I was getting a little bored (Concert DVD’s always struggle to hold my attention) Brenley lets the applause die down from Small of my Heart and introduces; what is a new song to me, but actually comes from a 2004 Canadian release; The Woodshop by telling us that her father was a craftsman who made things from wood in their cellar; so far so ordinary; then she adds that one day a friend gave him a big chunk of oak that he didn’t know what to do with for many years; so what you ask?
Brenley later receives a phone call saying that her brother has been murdered. Still in shock, she turns on the TV news to hear, as an aside from the presenter that a young man was the 52nd victim of homicide that year in their district. Her father raised himself from his chair and went to his workshop to work on that piece of oak and Brenley got to write a song that most people can only dream of writing.
The song is included on the CD; but like 3 songs and all of the other introductions; is missing on that package and it’s such a shame, as with Christy Ellen Francis; it puts the song into context.
With no stage act to speak of; the film director appears to get bored and we constantly get arty shots where the camera zooms in (mid pathos) and blurred shots through candles and glass and; far too often wide angle shots of the magnificent church that the concert is filmed in; leaving the poor viewer dizzy more often than not.
Apart from the concert there are also a couple of added goodies, including a short ‘on the road’ video that shows the band and Road Manager Rebecca Kemp looking bored and eating a variety of Germanic food (sausages feature quite heavily) and a behind the scenes look at setting up a gig; plus a short interview with Lisa and Brenley.
Have I enjoyed this package? Yes/no/sort of. I wish I’d been there because the setting looks wonderful and at least six songs are new to me; including their Bluegrass adaptation of Nirvana’s All Apologies and don’t appear on a Bootleg of a British concert earlier in the tour; and seeing and hearing Lisa and Brenley is always a pleasure; but will I ever watch the DVD or listen to the heavily edited CD again? I doubt it.
Released UK September 2nd 2013
True North Records TND571