Blue Alert in Toronto Review

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lightning
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Blue Alert in Toronto Review

Postby lightning » Sat Apr 28, 2007 3:14 am

Blue Alert
Brian D. Johnson | April 26, 2007 | 03:08:31 | Permalink
I caught singer Anjani Thomas at the Drake Underground last night, the first of two Toronto dates in a tour that kicked off at Joe's Pub in New York the previous evening. Backed by a jazz ensemble from L.A., Anjani showcased songs from her CD Blue Alert. On the record, her voice curls like a cat around the words of Leonard Cohen, who produced the album, and her performance reproduced that same mood of hushed beauty. It was one of the most delicate things I've ever heard. Her singing has the soft, purity of a reed instrument. It's a sound that feels like a far-off place, a pool of intimate intent shaded by silence. Anjani sings very quietly, working the kind of spell that requires a rapt audience, and the band behind her is even quieter. Later she told me they've only played together five times. It's lovely to see a band that's still so fresh they have to pay extra close attention, unwrapping each song as if defusing a bomb. The musicians were so careful, so restrained, which is the most difficult thing in the world to ask a musician to do. I remember Leonard once telling me, only half in jest, that you've got to "beat the band back" because its natural inclination is to engulf the song. And in that spirit, Anjani holds her musicians at a remove, treating the music an act of devotion to the source: do not trespass on the lyrics.
It's rare to hear a singer who doesn't try to "slay" the audience or "sell" the song. Anjani makes us listen, draws us in, and once the spell has been safely cast, she thanks us for being so quiet for so long and inhabiting these songs so full of space and silence.
We talked after the show. Anjani said that she and band were dazed and jet-lagged. Coming off the NYC gig in Joe's Pub—where they could hear the subway rumbling below the stage—they boarded a flight that sat on the tarmac at La Guardia for a couple of hours. Customs delays. No time to eat. A late sound check. Cohen, who attended the show in New York, went straight to Montreal, where they'll play April 29 at the Juste Pour Rire Theatre. Leonard, she said, has never worked harder. Aside from this tour, he's been collaborating with composer Philip Glass on a concert based on Cohen's recent poetry collection, Book of Longing, which will premiere at Toronto's inaugural Luminato festival on June 1. And Cohen is also preparing for his first exhibit of artworks Drawn To Words, at Toronto's Drabinsky Gallery, which premieres June 3.
Anjani plays again tonight at the Drake.
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lizzytysh
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Postby lizzytysh » Sat Apr 28, 2007 3:22 am

Exactly. Excellent description, Brian Johnson 8) .

I'm wondering whether it's a typo that they'll play on the April 29 at the Juste Pour Rire Theatre ~ or are they doing two gigs on one day. That's hard to imagine, as with sound checks and flights and meeting people, etc. that would be a very long and difficult day. I guess they could do something in the morning there?? Then, back to N.Y.C.?

Thanks for posting this, Lightning. I wish you would've experienced its truth in person.



~ Lizzy
"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."
~ Oscar Wilde
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dick
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Postby dick » Sat Apr 28, 2007 4:01 am

[quote="lizzytysh"]Exactly. Excellent description, Brian Johnson 8) .

I'm wondering whether it's a typo that they'll play on the April 29 at the Juste Pour Rire Theatre ~ or are they doing two gigs on one day.

yep
has to be an error

they (she) does Montreal tonight (27th)

back at joe's on sunday the 29th

Like Perla
Anjani noticed being over the lex subway at joe's
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lightning
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Postby lightning » Sat Apr 28, 2007 4:49 am

I was looking for reviews of the New York show on Google when I came across this piece and there were none outside of the few words from the Brooklyn Vegan . We will have to rely on our own Lizzytysh for a record of this event. I was discussing the controversy over Elizabeth's status as a journalist which went down on this forum today with someone who has had a life in the media, and he said that the internet is indeed blurring the distinction between amateur and professional as newspapers are firing journalists by the hundreds and people are coming to trust bloggers and independent voices more than writers- for- hire who have to answer to a boss, a boss who has to answer to advertisers,so they can rarely tell the truth. We are lucky to have Elizabeth, Dick and others reporting for us.
Also, what struck me was the difference between Toronto and New York in their treatment of Cohen/Anjani. Day and Night.

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