Lynchpin of Canada's sprawling Broken Social Scene, described as indie's wu tang clan, Kevin Drew is a man who evidently has an aversion to pressure. In many ways this mindset has been the essence of the groups burgeoning reputation; but also perhaps provides an explanation as to why BSS have, thus far, failed to progress from a committed cult following and into the mainstream. The reluctance of Drew and co-founder Brendan Canning to seek the limelight is at the root of the collective's organic and diverse sound that invites contribution from a variety of Scene associates and members. BSS are a democracy of stars not a dictatorship or an autocracy. Shorn of the girls (Feist, Emily Haines and Amy Millan) and the brass 'blasters', tonight was very much the Drew show and initially suspicions were that he might not be able to step up to the plate.
Arriving on stage with one hand in his pocket and the other gripping a beer Drew made a little speech which reeked of 'getting excuses in early'. "Stop apologising" he was told by a particularly vocal heckler when observing that 'life is full of pressure. You get out of bed you feel pressure. You cook a meal you feel pressure. There's pressure to get the girl. There's pressure at work. So how about tonight we play free of pressure". Politely requesting the crowd's indulgence he explained the point of tonight's gig was to showcase and trial songs from the forthcoming album 'Broken Social Scene present's Kevin Drew's... Spirit if'. It wasn't the most auspicious start; akin to turning up to see your favourite footy team only to find out that some of the star names had been left on the bench and the rest would actually be playing rugby.
For a man with such a passionate fan base Drew's insecurity was surprising and as it turns out completely unfounded. As promised we were served up songs penned by Drew but interupted by seven of the Scene's stalwarts. Eschewing some of their tendencies towards ambience, balladry or electronica; opener 'Lucky Ones', with three guitars variously take the lead, was a statement of intent. Tonight was about rock. Continuing the earlier theme 'Farewell to the Pressure Kids' cranked up the volume before synth was finally allowed to rear it's head on 'Safety Grip'. Reviving previous obsessions with songs from love's outsiders the gig really kicked in with 'Too Beautiful to Fuck'; a tale of listening to people through hotel walls. Singalong for the fans came in the form of 'Backed Out on the Cocks' which the crowd enthusiastically embraced. Good as his word Drew continued to deliver more new tunes all of which showed potential. Much as it would be marvelous if it were otherwise it just can't be denied that nothing hits the spot in the same way as songs that have already been taken to the heart. After an hour or so the crowd were becoming slightly restless.
Buoyed by the mainly positive reception given to the new material the pressure now seemed to be off so that Drew and the boys began to relax. Rewarding the followers for their patience they stomped through 'Super-Connected'; just one of the winners the crowd had come in hope of hearing. Now on a roll 'Major Label Debut' was rattled through giving a delicate tune a new bouncy feel. Such was the reaction of the congregation to hearing the sermon that they'd yearned for from the cult leader there was still a nagging feeling that this was what the Broken Social scene can really deliver. There was a prevailing sense that tonight's show could have been something really special. Closing the set Drew was reconciled with his most fervent heckler inviting him onto the stage to waltz through the closing of 'Lover's Spit' a song so lush it could have filled the Royal Albert Hall several times over let alone a sweaty Scala. Revitalised by the crowd's enthusiasm for old favourites and now well and truly warmed up the Scene didn't want to vacate the stage but had to confess they had nothing more rehearsed. A quick conference was held to find out who knew how to play what while Brendan Canning stepped forward to point out; 'we're not going to cure any diseases tonight but we'll try to play you a song'. And what a song it was with 'Cause=Time' elevated to a tour de force.
All bode's well for the 'Spirit If' project and in fairness the Scala performance was a success but ultimately the sense was that this was a taster of what could have been. My own regret at illness forcing me to miss out on a performance last year of the whole BSS ensemble was only deepened. To slightly miss-paraphrase Smokey Robinson, sometimes a taste of honey can be worse than none at all.
10th Sep 2007 - Tumblr3.5
Knives Don't Have Your Back
Oceans Will Rise
Camber Sands Holiday Centre, Sussex
Thoughtful, stylish drama with a zen central performance.
17th Oct 2020Read more 4 star reviews
Stiff, poorly paced innovative film that hasn’t aged well.
11th Oct 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Inspiring, tightly scripted gem - overlooked by lockdown.
4th Oct 2020Read more 4 star reviews
Standard-issue airplane movie, with Joel Kinnaman standing in for Vin Diesel.
3rd Oct 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Sub LA Confidential gumshoe thriller - with an underplayed USP. Ed Norton misses again.
27th Sep 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Over explained threequel, that undermines a low key original.
18th Sep 2020Read more 2.5 star reviews
Intriguing, but generally incomprehensible sci-fi gobbledegook.
31st Aug 2020Read more 3 star reviews
The Next Level
Marginally less fun sequel, but still plenty of laughs.
16th Aug 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Beautifully imagined and lovingly restored, but it still alternates between a snail’… https://t.co/6bZj694rnx.
12th Aug 2020Read more star reviews
Surprisingly enjoyable plane movie, though it owes a lot to the magnificent Copland.
8th Aug 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Tension-free Bateman rom com. Lacking rom and com.
8th Aug 2020Read more 2 star reviews
Incredibly stylish and wannabe cerebral sci-fi, that’s ultimately a little thin.
19th Jul 2020Read more 3.5 star reviews
Underwhelming space drama that’s a bit too intimate and not very epic.
5th Jul 2020Read more 3.5 star reviews
Dire, tension-free postcode gang drama. Just add drama.
21st Jun 2020Read more 1 star reviews
Magnificent documentary, re-assembling the moon landing from beautifully remastered footage.
14th Jun 2020Read more 4 star reviews
The 8th slow-paced Tarantino pic. Literally half entertaining / boring.
24th May 2020Read more 2.5 star reviews
Entertaining Brit-com, though it’s a bit on-the-beaten-path for Danny Boyle.
13th Apr 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Mildly enjoyable, thoroughly forgettable Nick Hornby pic ...once you get past the contrived set up.
4th Apr 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Kid-friendly(ish), super fun superhero movie.
23rd Mar 2020Read more 3.5 star reviews
Impeccably realised remake, but it’s emotionally flat.
15th Mar 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Standard festival thriller, with some style and decent moments - but it’s all a bit thin.
10th Mar 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Surprisingly enjoyable, Guy Ritchie-fied Disney remake.
10th Mar 2020Read more 3.5 star reviews
Cookie cutter biography that could literally have been written from his Wikipedia page.
7th Mar 2020Read more 1.5 star reviews
Text book indie, literally days out of Sundance. Interesting until it gets a bit too wacky.
9th Feb 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Strong slice of 90s skate nostalgia. Slow and subtle.
8th Feb 2020Read more 3.5 star reviews
Considered character study that strays into pretentiousness here and there.
25th Jan 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Enthusiasticly directed sequence of unrelated musical set pieces.
31st Dec 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Yet another biggest-battle-yet, with more than a passing nod to BTTF2.
30th Dec 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Thoughtfully assembled montage doc.
30th Dec 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Decent origin story, with charm and some 90s nostalgia.
27th Dec 2019Read more 3 star reviews
The Rise of Skywalker
Freestyle bouillabaisse with all the ingredients, but no chef.
27th Dec 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Quintessential indie movie ...funded by Netflix. Great perfs, lovely camera work and solid direction.
22nd Dec 2019Read more 4 star reviews
Superior modern thriller. Smart script and accomplished direction.
15th Dec 2019Read more 4 star reviews
Long, slow, thoroughly enjoyable loose jam through Scorsese/DeNiro/Pacino/Pesci/Keitel’s greatest hits.
2nd Dec 2019Read more 4 star reviews
Batman via Scorsese, in impeccably art directed, neatly packaged origin story.
28th Nov 2019Read more 4 star reviews
Surprisingly strong sequel that gets going after a convoluted start.
24th Nov 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Casual drama from Clint Eastwood, with the man himself anchoring things through a charming turn.
16th Nov 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Luscious period drama. Beautifully put together - like Wolf Hall+.
3rd Nov 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Throw away Breaking Bad expansion piece with little tension or jeopardy.
13th Oct 2019Read more 2.5 star reviews
Stylish but incoherent Cheney biopic, hampered by another one-note turn from Bale.
5th Oct 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Mind numbingingly basic biopic, saved by the nostalgia for the music and moments.
5th Oct 2019Read more 2 star reviews
Interesting doc following the lives of 3 teens becoming adults, tied together by skateboarding.
28th Sep 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Painful, occasionally uplifting viewing with a grief stricken central performance.
28th Sep 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Into the Spider-Verse
Stylish, trippy concept animated superhero flick with some great moments.
21st Sep 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Young adult upgrade, with just enough Conchords humour to keep it enjoyable.
22nd Aug 2019Read more 2.5 star reviews
Decent Aussie surf drama, that nostalgically investigates the soul of surfing before losing its way a little.
14th Aug 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Somewhat unremarkable, but enjoyable music drama. Bit long.
13th Jul 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Predictably grim seaside coming-of-age indie. Decent enough, but you’ve seen it before
13th Jul 2019Read more 3 star reviews