I was superbly lucky to witness one of the farewell “Home For A Rest” shows of Spirit of the West at the Commodore earlier this month. Despite them playing plenty of shows over plenty of years, I had never seen them before. It seems utterly ludicrous to me now, as, like any good Canadian, I knew about them and had a handful of their songs firmly intertwined with my formative years. That said, I never paid them an exceeding amount of mind through the last couple of decades since music has lit up my life on a more meaningful level, but I knew of the upsetting reasons for these guys to be stepping back now, and found myself absolutely engaged in their stories lately. The show I was at was a mess of big emotions for everyone (as I’m sure all three were!).
Anyhow, I will link to galleries of Spirit of the West as I get through photos, but first up, Odds opened these shows. It was a fitting combo. The bands are old friends (like, seriously back to school days! Odds singer Craig Northey gave an anecdote about throwing up at Spirit drummer Vince Ditrich’s house back in the day), and make a fine musical match. My own history with them was mostly through music media, as they went on what turns out to be a hiatus by the time I started photographing bands (though I did catch some members on films as Colin James’ backing band during an A & B Sound in-store while I was working there, and at a darkly-lit set as their alter-ego Sharkskin at The Rage in 2000 or so). Then they re-emerged, right as I had gone on a bit of a music photo hiatus, so only in the last year or so have I managed to catch up with them on stage a couple of times. Finally! Their set was a journey through Odds hits over the years, bringing back fond memories of watching MuchMusic as a teen where those songs were a staple. They ended the set with a rousing cover version of “With A Little Help From My Friends,” a really appropriate song to showcase the tight bonds weaving the Vancouver music scene together. A host of guests came out to lend voices to the song, including Andy Maize from The Skydiggers, John Mann and Tobin Frank from Spirit of the West, local songwriting minstrel and leather-goods-maker Dustin Bentall, long-standing cut-up and musician Bob Kemmis, musician and journalist Paul Myers, and John Mann’s son Harlan Daumann – all this in addition to earlier appearances by SOTW’s Hugh McMillan and Tobin Frank’s son Ellis. Good cheer + love in abundance here tonight to offset the pain of reality. It was masses of fun to watch and sing along with, and was a great start to getting the audience really in tune for the headlining set (not that they needed much help! Enthusiastic is an understatement).
Galleries I have will be huge and broken up a bit, but I also want to stick on a disclaimer that not all these photos are exactly what I would call my top technical work. There are plenty of great shots, but mostly, I wanted to post these for the moment captured, even if it was a little dark or the shutter speed was a little slow or there was a mic stand in the way or whatever. These were landmark gigs, and I think the people involved will be cherishing every moment of them, so I wanted to get those moments along to those who they truly matter to. Feel free to share these around and enjoy. And if you like, check out the full article and a “Cliff’s Notes” of photos at Concert Addicts.