Who the frig are The Imponderables? They came on the stage last night at 11 when we were expecting The Rheostatics. I can’t really describe what happened other than that it involved Celine Dion, an altered version of Roch Carrier’s “The Sweater”, table hockey, cross-dressing, and a naughty version of one of those old CBC vignettes involving lumberjacks or some such.
Then, on came The Rheostatics, all set to do #12 in a 13-night stand at the Horseshoe (in what’s become an annual event, dubbed the “Fall Nationals”) and with 8 of us trying to establish space near the front of a nearly-packed room. They kicked things off with a song I didn’t know. In fact, I didn’t know the first three songs. Happily, I finally recognized the beginning of a song, but then quickly realized they were playing the Guided By Voices song “Teenage FBI”. Then they played another song I didn’t know. Luckily, though, they were good songs, probably from Melville or The Blue Hysteria; I was beginning to realize that my knowledge of the Rheos is limited to Whale Music and Double Live. So I can’t comment on every song.
I do know they played the following: “PIN”, “Saskatchewan”, “Rain Rain Rain”, “Song Of Flight”, “Dope Fiends”, “Christopher” and, to close the set, “Queer”, which was fucking amazing. Somehow some “Taking Care Of Business” snuck in there too (after which Martin mumbled, “I guess that was bound to happen eventually…”). They then came out for an encore, during which I recognized…umm, no songs at all. Well, actually, in the middle of “Four Little Songs” they played parts of songs by Neil Young and The Ramones and others that I can’t remember.
It was good, but it didn’t compare at all to the first two times I saw them. I feel bad about that too; am I disappointed because they didn’t play the songs I know? I hope not; they can’t be faulted for wanting to stretch the set list a little after 12 straight nights. But the flow of the concert seemed to go from fast and exciting to slow and intense, which meant we lost our energy about halfway through and then lost our friends soon after. It picked up here and there, especially during “Queer” and “Blitzkrieg Bop”, but never held. Even Martin’s theatrics and Tim’s hatred of the outgoing Ontario Tory government couldn’t prop us up. Once the first encore was finished, so were we.
Was it a good show? Absolutely. Was it as good as the first two times I saw them? No. The first time I saw them I didn’t recognize any songs and it still blew me away; I guess next year I should go earlier in the run at the ‘Shoe, when their hearts — or mine — are more in it.