For a very long time I have wanted to see Luke Doucet in concert. For various reasons, mainly timing, I have never had the opportunity…until this week.
For those of you not familiar with Luke Doucet I will give you the Reader’s Digest version of his career. A native of Halifax, Luke joined Sarah McLaughlin’s band at the age of 19 and has played with her intermittently ever since. In the late ’90’s and early 2000’s Luke fronted the Vancouver rock band Veal before striking out on his own recording 5 albums and an EP for Toronto’s Six Shooter Records. He has also produced many albums including Melissa McClelland’s 2004 release “Stranded In Suburbia”. Coincidentally they would marry in 2006.
In 2011 both Luke and Melissa would put both their respectable solo careers on hold and join forces as Whitehorse. And thank you so much for doing that. I am a fan of each but this is one of those instances where product is greater than the sum of all the parts. They each make great records (see my December review of Luke’s “Blood’s Too Rich”) but what they have created together is magic! But I will save the album review for another day.
After years of bad timing I finally got to see Luke Doucet live when he and Melissa performed at the Starlight in Waterloo (great venue by the way). I am a guitar nut. I collect them, I play them, I build them and Luke is unquestionably my favorite guitar player in the world. He is often cited as one of the best guitarists in Canada. So this week my regular concert wingman, Bryan, and I took in one hell of a show.
It is one thing to listen to Whitehorse on CD or vinyl or whatever your preference but it is entirely another to see the magic created on stage live. It is just Luke and Melissa on stage. No one else. They play everything. They have an elaborate stage set-up utilizing a lot of looping. Not pre-recorded looping mind you, everything recorded live in front of your eyes. It is something to watch them construct a song by recording a couple drum hits, a tambourine, some pots & pans, a kettle, keyboards, a bass, guitars and a bunch of other shit I’m missing. Before you know it, this amazing cacophony of sound is emanating from these two musicians on stage. Simply wow! Bryan who is a performing musician could not believe the energy it took for them to run back and forth to play everything and it still sound seemless to the audience.
What did I like about the show? Pretty much everything. Aside from the obvious awe I had watching my idol play guitar not 10 feet in front of me, there were so many highlights. My favorite tune, “Devil’s Got A Gun” off their current album “The Fate of the World Depends On This Kiss” just blew me away. The crowd favorite was “Broken One” from their debut self-titled album. Luke’s guitar work blew the roof of the place with the live rendition of “Annie Lu”. “Killing Time Is Murder” and “Achilles Desire” the lead tracks of each album were the pinnacle of the sonic tapestry they created this evening. Both of those tracks, which to me feel sonically like part A and B, are some of the most complex of their creations and to hear them live was awe inspiring. The only song I was looking forward to hearing but didn’t was “Peterbilt Coalmine”. The encore closed with “Emerald Isle” and a crowd sing-a-long of the Springsteen cover “I’m On Fire” from the debut album.
We had the pleasure of meeting Luke and Melissa after the show. Although I probably sounded like a stupid fan I made sure to tell Luke that he was my guitar idol and that I’d wanted to meet him for quite some time. He thanked me and seemed touched. Then we talked about guitars for a while, especially the one’s I’ve built. Below are some photos from the evening.
Tonight as I write this, Whitehorse are playing their first headlining gig at the holiest of venues in Canada, Massey Hall. To commemorate the significance of this they recorded an EP “The Road to Massey Hall” which honours past artists that have graced that stage. Check out one track from that EP in the video below then head over to the Six Shooter on-line store and buy the EP and their albums. GO SEE WHITEHORSE LIVE!!!!