Tanya Donelly touched down in Toronto on the 24th, missing out on the scheduled date in Pontiac, MI to take a day off in light of her nasty bout with pneumonia. The next day, Saturday the 25th, found Tanya still rather under the weather but she decided to go ahead with her show at the Horseshoe Tavern - what a trooper!
I met up with a remarkably dedicated TD fan from Rochester, NY (across the lake from Toronto). Despite her having to work early Sunday and all she made sure to attend the Toronto show. We took in the Tower in-store appearance at 4pm, which was a blast! There was a small line of TD fans waiting which was disappointing and probably due to the in-store only being announced Thursday afternoon in one of our local weekly music rags. Sadly, it seemed many local TD fans weren't aware of the in-store until it was too late. Tanya chatted with us briefly and signed our CD booklets; we were definitely happy campers!
At the show itself, I was relieved to see such a packed venue. My friend and I made our way to the stage and enjoyed the show close up and intimate-like in a venue already renowned for it's intimacy. I don't think the setlist hasn't changed too much from the past couple shows...
Restless (acoustic w/lapsteel by Rich) Acrobat Breathe Around You Low Red Moon Lantern (w/accordian by Elizabeth) Swoon Pretty Deep The Bright Light Dusted Human Mysteries Of The Unknown Clipped Time Of The Seasons (let this be a B-side!!)
Encore: Feed The Tree (acoustic and corny) Manna
Tanya described the Belly songs as "old ones" and referred to "Pretty Deep" as a song about finding a dead body (despite really only finding a tire). "The Bright Light" is described by Tanya as "being about E.T." (could be the cuddly alien OR the entertainment TV show, I suppose).
Overall, it was an amazing show, the capacity crowd singing along with Tanya throughout. Her pneumonia didn't hamper her ability to give a killer kick-ass concert at all. At times, Tanya would stand several feet from the mic as she sang and she still sang as powerful as if she was right in front of the mic. Such a HUGE voice from such a tiny woman!! Tanya is simply amazing!!
Someone in the audience grilled Tanya on her shoes, "are they Gucci's?", but Tanya would only say she'd never wear Gucci products and wouldn't disclose where she aquired her nifty platform sandals, not wanting to give away her hometown shoe emporium's location.
The affection Tanya and Dean have for each other is incredible. If you watch closely you can see subtle little glances and shirt tugs as they move about the stage. As Tanya sang and coughed the bandmates did seem concerned about the wisdom of going through with the show. Dean looked especially watchful of his wife throughout.
There are two sets of Tanya T-shirts for sale. One is white and has a circular pic of a blurred Tanya w/album title on the front and a big TD logo on the back with a blurred TD. The other is light yellow/beige with a blurred TD on the front and a big TD logo on the back.
Tanya - electric/acoustic guitars Dean Fisher - bass, moog Rich Gilbert - lap steel, guitar Elizabeth Steen - keyboards, accordian David Narcizo - drums (used to be in one of Tanya's old bands, right?)
It looks like Monday's (27th) show in Cleveland has been axed but this is a rundown of shows remaining (scammed off someone's web site - check all dates to confirm of course):
Tuesday 28th October - Supper Club - New York City, NY - 21+ Wednesday 29th October - Theatre of Living Arts - Philadelphia, PA Thursday 30th October - 9:30 Club II - Washington D.C. Monday 3rd November - Starfish Room - Vancouver, B.C., Canada Tuesday 4th November - Crocodile Cafe - Seattle, WA Wednesday 5th November - Berbati's Pan - Portland, OR - 21+ Friday 7th November - Slim's - San Francisco, CA Saturday 8th November - El Dorado - Sacramento, CA Sunday 9th November - Hollywood Athletic Club - Los Angeles, CA Monday 10th November - Gibson's - Tempe, AZ Wednesday 12th November - Satellite Lounge - Houston, TX Friday 21st November - ULU - London, England Monday 24th November - Luxor - Cologne, Germany Tuesday 25th November - Logo - Hamburg, Germany Wednesday 26th November - Ancienne Belgique - Brussels, Belgium Thursday 27th November - Divan Du Monde - Paris, France Saturday 29th November - Bikini - Barcelona, Spain Sunday 30th November - Melkweg - Amsterdam, The Netherlands early '98 - possible dates in Japan and Australia
Also of note, "Pretty Deep" was used during last week's episode of "Party Of Five" - with the show's characters talking about that the song is too loud and had to lower the volume!! Can you say Neve?? Yaa! Also, don't forget single number two, "The Bright Light", is out on November 24th via 4AD on two CD's and a 7", all with exclusive B-sides!! The Reprise dude I spoke with at Tower wasn't sure if there'd be a domestic US version of "The Bright Light"...
Here is an egg-cert from the local music rag called Eye:
By Cindy McGlynn: One of the niftier things I've discovered since growing up is that life doesn't stop at 25. I've never had a five-year plan, but always imagined that at 25 or so, you'd basically be who you are, live your life accordingly, breed, I suppose, and eventually kick the bucket peacefully in your sleep. The 'be who you are' part is what we're focusing on here, even though it's not true.
It turns out, as I discussed with Tanya Donelly recently, over Perrier and hotel-lounge spicy nut mix (soooo 80's!), that you just keep right on changing.
Which is not news to the woman who started playing with half-sister Kristin Hersh in the Throwing Muses when she was only 16 and has since been in The Breeders and Belly. For those keeping score, recent changes for Donelly include getting married, amicably ditching her band Belly and releasing her first solo record. "I was talking to a friend of mine today about how people expect and even aspire to reach this static state or something," she says. "This static state of adulthood or of having reached your goals -- that to me just seems like death, you know? It's relieving to know that doesn't really happen. I'm sure some people are crushed to know that it doesn't."
Out of Donelly's list of recent changes, it's the 'solo' stuff that might most strike fans since she has always been one to sing the praises of bands. "There are different perks," she explains. "It's nice to be in a band because there's a familial sort of feeling. When a song really comes together in a band's context, it feels like nothing else in the world. Having said that, I also feel that music is something that needs to live and breathe and move and change. And within the constraints of a band that eventually stops happening... in my experience anyway."
Donelly calls her CD Lovesongs For Underdogs (she and her husband came up with it while tipsy) a transitional record. For those familiar with her easy way with a melody and deceptively simple girl-woman lyrics, there are few surprises on Underdogs -- just lots of what she's good at. It's all melancholy, hopeful, searching and confused. "That's pretty much it," she says. "Actually, that's pretty much me in a nutshell."
Donelly adds that with this record she tips her hat to her influences, and bids the past adieu making ready to really move on. "There's a direction that I'm sort of going in that's only hinted at on the record. It starts with ground I've covered before and moves into my new shtick. The stuff that I've been writing more recently is very ambient. Not guitars strumming through the whole thing. More using noises that aren't instrument-specific. You can't really tell what they are."
Donelly's demeanor is laid back, though there's a quickness to her conversation that hints at an inner-disciplinarian. Anyhow, it doesn't seem surprising that she's as comfortable listening to her ambient muses as she is taking control. Apparently being the boss can be a lot easier than being in a band, which is sometimes a "weird pseudo-democratic situation, where you are the leader but you're not the leader."
How does it all feel? "There's always certain amount of introspection and suffering, I hate to say that because it sounds so melodramatic, but it has to happen to make music interesting to a certain extent. I am very grateful for my life. I'm very happy. Well, I'm not happy with a capital-H -- nobody is, really. But the conditions of your life can be completely separate from your internal landscape sometimes. I don't know...
"It doesn't mean that I'm tortured, by any means."
Just rolling with the punches, so to speak. Mellow and tanned, with feet dangling what I swear are the same red Gucci platform sandals Meg Ryan wore recently in Vanity Fair... from where I sit, whether Donelly is Happy or not, change looks pretty good.
Photo of Tanya by Andrew Caitlin and visible briefly at this addy: http://www.eye.net/eye/issue/issue_10.23.97/music/photos/donnelly23.jpg
JEFF "we missed ya, Damion" KEIBEL SCARBOROUGH, ONTARIO CANADA