But that's not to say I've become a shut-in. Here are a few of my favorite nights out in 2012:
- The Avett Brothers at Corona (Some groups put out a great album but can't match the quality on stage. Others, like The Avetts, sound even better live. Considering the quality of their recorded work, that's saying something)
- John Hiatt at Club Soda (So bizarre we had to wait 15 years for a Hiatt concert in Montreal)
- Kinky Friedman at Petit Campus (Waited 40 years to see Kinky in Montreal, though I did head down to The Lone Star in NYC in the early 90s. Wonderful to see and hear Kinky tell his life story on stage through stories & songs as part of his Bipolar Tour. Also great to see a good Saturday night crowd for him. Has the makings of a one man show)
- Billy Bragg at Metropolis (It's not easy to hold a crowd of 500+ for two hours while alone on stage with just a guitar. Bragg always pulls it off.)
-Steve Earle & The Dukes at Corona (Mostly politics - free Earle and the boys delivered an old fashioned ass-kicking full of spirit and passion)
- Alan Doyle at Hurley's Irish Pub. On U.S. election night, Alan was performing at a private charity event in Old Montreal but let Hurley's GM Rod Applebee know that he'd like to do a late set with local stalwarts Jonathan Morman & Dave Gossage, not an unusual move whenever Great Big Sea hits town. Promising to keep it quiet (except to close friends and co-workers) until Doyle hit the stage it made for another organic made in Montreal moment.
- The Who at Bell Centre (Had no intention of going but changed my mind a week before, deciding to accompany Knuckles Nilan who had never seen his favourite group live. Sure glad I went. Pete Townshend was shockingly great)
- Sadies/Patti Smith/ Neil Young & Crazy Horse at Bell Centre (Missed the early Sadies set but saw them at Pop Montreal. Patti Smith and her Band couldn't recapture the intimacy of her Pop Montreal gig at Eglise St. Jean Baptiste in '07 but they did their best. Neil & Crazy Horse - arriving on stage to a recorded version of Oh Canada hit blistering levels and long jams that left some of my friends realizing they missed the wrong Neil Young concert. But I loved it. Especially an incomparable version of Mr. Soul)
- Leonard Cohen at Bell Centre (Had to dig deep to make sure I was close enough after weeping through his memorable JazzFest appearance at Place Des Arts. Same kind of concert augmented by several songs from his new album. As Leonard himself says of his back up duo The Webb Sisters, "sublime")
- Tom Russell at Petit Campus (Productive career but should have been at least as big as Steve Earle. A truly great songwriter & story teller. Carrying on the old troubadour tradition. The Pugilist is now in his sixth decade but sounds and looks better than ever. Don't miss him next time!)
- Wide Mouth Mason & Shane Murphy In Studio on Melnick in the Afternoon (Ok not exactly a concert but a late September early evening mini set live on the air consisting of "Get A Hold Of You" & "Shut Up And Kiss Me" w/ Gordie Johnson on bass along with some lively banter. I've had a lot of musicians perform in studio but this was as enjoyable an appearance as I can remember)
- Shane Murphy Band at Club Soda (Great crowd at official release party for "The Good Years Dirty Work" which is still not available in stores - long story. If not for charity event down the street at Metropolis which featured Doors' guitarist Robbie Krieger, Club Soda would have been packed to beyond capacity. Already working on two more albums for 2013)
- Andre Williams & The Sadies at Cabaret Mile End (Best single music set I saw all year. The 76 year old Williams sang for barely 40 minutes but what a presence. And as he sang/spit several times, one bad motherfucker)
One other bright music note. Leave it to a Torontonian and sad sack Leafs fan to perfectly capture the spirit of Montreal in song. Nobody had a better 2012 than Dave Bidini:
Happy New Year.