Preamble or preramble: It’s been a while since we have written some words on this side of Midnight Matinee. It’s been busy busy busy with Paint and Mittenz and Shanks and the lovely Spitfist and NXNE 2011 and the other side has been Derby Derby Derby. Coming along the way will be another story or two on Paint and Mittenz and oh yes – U2 – we did see U2 – but we are fresh from the salt mines of Skordalia. So on to Shanks from last night.
It was a dark and rainy night… the chill of autumn had dissipated all the heat of summer. This did not stop the young ladies from wearing the short of mini-skirts in the accompaniment of their beau as they tripped lightly over the wet sidewalks. We were dashing off the streetcar – the Spadina car à la Shuffle Demons – with a dare and a hope against hope that as of 10 o’clock in the night the Shanks would still be there. We have come to learn that set times are only a cognitive theory and hiking it up the stairs of Rancho Relaxo for the first time – la voilà! The mammoth Paint setup crammed onto the tiniest of stages [in terms of width that is because there is depth to that stage]. And with the grungiest of chords, The Shanks launched into the first song of Skordalia, the new CD which was being performed once again in all its continuous glory from start to finish. The eleven songs of Skordalia were delivered with searing sentimentality by the Shanks duosome of bassist Pistolwhip van Shankenstein and “the fabulous” Colonel Crankshaft on the drumming. Yep, just the two delivering a monstrous rock with a touch of ballad. Skordalia is a bombastic assault on Hell itself, with plenty of verve and vim yet tuneful melody and melancholia.
We had been introduced to Shanks at the old New Hamburg Arena outside Kitchener performing within the Derby festivities of the Tri-City Thunder taking on Lake Effect Furies. Handed a copy of The Dark Richard Show, a CD that tripped inside a psychotic mental landscape. Skordalia, the Shanks newest release of this year is another dark adventure. The surprising aspect is the melodic singing amidst an angry angst on the record and the stage performance is another translation of this vocal aspect. Skordalia had been launched at its CD Release party at Lee’s Palace not that long ago in a darkened haze and foggy night. Inside the more intimate Rancho Relaxo, Shanks did not let up on the staging or sound. Before a hardy bunch of attendees, the Skordalia live performance is not a note for note replication of the CD – Shanks have a natural flair for showmanship – note the stage attire and the stage decor. Along with the mammoth helmet of Thor. The set conjures the Pantheon of Greece or a distortion of Pink Floyd. Pistolwhip enjoys spreading the music of his imagination to the masses. For the little more than half hour verging on maybe forty minutes, Shanks assailed the crowd with a mighty bass and rock drums and the clean sound system abetted the telling of the tale. Tenderizer is a lead-off single, Summer Thighs should be next. The romance is ignited as I Light Stars soars on its own plane. Kingdom is full of blast and majesty. Ordinary Ways has that plush sound. The night for Shanks ended as they Waltzed into the night and disappeared into the misty night.
Shanks’ American tour of five cities venturing as far as Cincinnati, Ohio commences in October. Video works for tenderizer perhaps on their way.
/… more to come from Rancho Relaxo – and look to the next Shanks fest at Orangeville in October.