By: Grant Walker
The Weakerthans :: 11.26.07 :: Melkweg :: Amsterdam, NL
When one thinks of Canadian indie rock icons The Weakerthans they are reminded of the band's soft-spoken frontman John K. Samson's ever so beautifully written lyrics. His songs speak of small towns past their heyday, loves past their prime and lives far past their expiration date. Reflection is the key - looking back on what was, and being thankful for what you have as a consequence of what you have given up.
| John K. Samson - The Weakerthans|
By Jess Baumung
Ten years ago, Samson left fledgling political punk band Propagandhi, and along with bassist John P. Sutton and drummer Jason Tait formed The Weakerthans. And we should all be grateful for his choice. Since then, the lineup has changed, with Greg Smith taking over from Sutton on bass and a fourth member coming into the fold, Stephen Carroll (second guitar, keys), adding to a fuller sound.
After four albums and years of critical praise, The Weakerthans are back on the road promoting their newest opus, Reunion Tour (released 9/25/07 on Epitaph). The band has stated their influences range from punk to folk, country to show tunes. On their previous albums, they have run the musical gamut, from out and out rock songs like "Uncorrected Proofs" to softer ballads like "None of the Above." However, with their latest effort the band seem to have edged out the heavier, punk influenced tunes and opted for a more commercially viable, agreeably agreeable selection. Songs such as "Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure" and "Bigfoot!" confirm this move but Samson's poetic tongue and warm heart shine through the music, and the lyrics still speak of alienation in a society packed to the rafters with corruption and injustice. More importantly, Samson tunnels out the lingering hope in all of us that survival in this world would not be possible without each other.
Live, the band definitely does not disappoint. With at least 150 people cramped into the Melkweg Oude Zaal in Amsterdam, we were witness to the band's highly varied material - new and old, heavy and soft. They opened with "Psalm for the Elks Lodge Last Call" from 2003's Reconstruction Site, and closed with a sentimental encore of "Pamphleteer" and a beautiful ode to the not-so-beautiful city of Winnipeg, "One Great City!"
On form as always, the band was full of passion, by turns funny, depressing, concise, poetic and more. Upfront, Samson's trademark grin (as if he is reminded of some private joke from long ago) left everyone with a feeling of serenity, while the opening musician for the evening, Jim Bryson, who since September has been helping the band out on the road, took residence so masterfully on keyboards. The band's poppy, thought provoking songs were enough to leave any person there, whether a long-time fan or not, completely enamored.
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