Weakerthans stronger after 4-year break

Openers Jenn Grant, Christine Fellows join celebration

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

The Weakerthans

Photos courtesy of Michelle Drew

Of all the bands so far this year at Call the Office, the Weakerthans is the biggest to hit the stage.

The band filled the small bar until movement was almost impossible. John K. Samson and company made their claim to fame as Canadian indie rock legends.

Nearing the end of a Canadian tour, the band and its tourmates refused to mail in the final show. Nothing is ever perfect though â€" especially when a quarter of the audience is getting elbowed in the face.

The show started off well with folk singer Christine Fellows. Playing new material from her recent Nevertheless release along with some older songs, Fellows offered a pleasant stage demeanour to accompany her keyboard and ukulele-driven songs, which focused on death and spinsters.

Even her husband, “little John Samson” as she called him, provided backup vocals for one song. Although initially skeptical of the Winnipeg songstress, the crowd warmed to her by the end of the set.

Following Fellows was the P.E.I.-born Jenn Grant, who provided a much-needed adrenaline boost. Along with her four-piece band, Grant made her way through newer songs about dogs and fireflies. She made her presence known with awkwardly off-kilter, but humourous, stage banter that seemed to confuse the audience â€" a welcome change of pace. Grant’s unique brand of folk-based pop still needs some work to obtain perfection.

The Weakerthans

When the Weakerthans finally took to the stage, the band dove directly into the latter half of its catalogue, milking the hits from Reconstruction Site and Reunion Tour. The earnest audience accompanied Samson’s every word with its own sing-along, albeit with more awkward voice cracks and stutters.

However, the arrival of the Weakerthans also saw the audience’s good spirit ruined by one drunk soul. Once he was finally reined in, order was restored, and the hit parade continued with “Reconstruction Site” and “A Plea From A Cat Named Virtute.”

The band’s initial set seemed rather short, but the audience was in for a welcome treat with an encore that soon resembled a second set. Reaching further back into the catalogue, Samson pulled out well-worn songs like “My Favourite Chords,” “Confessions of a Futon Revolutionist” and “Pamphleteer” to the audience that by now was under his control.

The band also invited its tourmates up to make some noise with tambourines as the show came to a close, proving that releasing one album every four years can still bring the audience back in droves.

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