LeE HARVeY OsMOND – Venue (Vancouver, BC – Oct. 25, 2013)
Tom Wilson’s LeE HARVeY OsMOND project received no shortage of praise last year. Doug Heselgrave wrote about The Folk Sinner here last year. After touring pretty steadily since it’s release, Wilson finally brought the band and the album to Vancouver’s Venue.
Wilson was in a fine mood at the start of the show, joking that “It’s the end of a tour, and I’m both puffy and sweaty.” It didn’t look it from the audience, but hey: I’m told life always feels different from a stage. What do I know?
Over the next hour and half Wilson and his band delivered a steady stream of some of Wilson’s best tunes. Playing as a threesome—unless you include the man’s hair, the role of which should not be underestimated—the band puts out a bass heavy style of folk that’s hard to precisely pin down to a single genre. This, of course, is what makes it so great: cute, neat labels are overrated anyway.
Highlights of the set included a nice rendition of Devil’s Load from the Folk Sinner album and a version of Wilson’s classic Junkhouse song Shine, introduced with a cautionary tale of the perils of sudden success.
Big Chief, written by Wilson’s song in support of the Idle no More movement for Native rights in Canada, saw the night’s most political moment. Thomson Wilson was 16 when he wrote the song and told his father “Why don’t you vote for people who have love in their hears, instead of other people’s money in their pockets.” It’s a nice sentiment as our current government suffers the slings and arrows of yet another spending scandal.
A killer, bluesy cover of Gordon Lightfoot’s Oh, Linda! followed and did a nice job of showing Wilson’s ability to handle just about any musical style you’d like to see and saw the man buried in that prominent mane of hair while singing.
The hour and a half of tightly played did a fine job of showcasing the band’s talent: they’ve been playing together on the road, so that’s to be expected I suppose. It also did a nice of job of showing off the diversity of the LeE HARVeY OsMOND material: from full blown rocking to spare and reserved, this is a band that knows itself well and is playing fantastic music.
One of the night’s lighter more spontaneous moments did a nice job of showing how much fun these guys were having. Referring to the light panel across the back of the stage that spelled out the band’s name, Wilson started laughing and said, “I feel like I’m on the midnight special with Wolfman Jack.” The legendary DJ’s spirit was apparent as the band quickly launched into a quick witty cover of Captain and Tennille’s Love Will Keep Us Together. This is classic Wilson: you have to know your past before you cast it aside. Oh the 70s, what a musical wasteland.
Let’s face facts: when a band is willing to cover Captain and Tennille for you, isn’t it worth heading out for a show? After all, when the others turn you off, LeE HARVeY OsMOND will still be turning you on–and it’s going to sound pretty unique.
LeE HARVeY OsMOND will be playing a few dates around Ontario through November. You can get complete details on the web site here. Wilson’s other band is the Canadian country super-group Blackie and the Rodeo Kings and you can expect new materials from them in the new year. Thomson Wilson–Wilson’s son and occasional collaborator–is a member of Harlan Pepper, and that young band shows some fantastic promise. Check them out–I last caught them at the Harvest Picnic in their hometown.