Al Spx of Cold Specks in an undated photo from Britain (?), courtesy of guardian.co.uk
Before getting into Part III, here is a True North query from JBNBlog . . . aside from gracing #ldnont on a fine weekend for music, what else do Adrianne Pieczonka, Blackie and The Rodeo Kings and Cold Specks have in common? It didn’t occur to me until later, but they are all (you fill in the blank) though BARK”s Stephen Fearing was born in Ireland, but still qualifies as CanCon no doubt. As he should.
On to Part III with Cold Specks, a future star.
Date: Sunday, Dec. 2, 7:30 p.m. (missed opening act)
Venue: A pretty full Aeolian Hall . . . fans love their Spx
In a few words: The photograph doesn’t do justice to her minimalist (dark gown, one mic) stage magic . . . but it does have Cold Specks with her electric guitar. She made a lot of murmurs to arpeggios to roars with it. As for her voice . . . well, she has the power. Cold Specks opened with maybe a traditional blues or field holler (everything I have is in pawn) & then sang some of I Expect A Graceful Expulsion & some new ones, one about all flesh being grass or another about sex with the Devil.
She occasionally moved away from the mic & still hit the back wall (where JBNBlog was sitting) like ArethaMuddyRosettaWolf . . . she apologized for not talking a lot because she finds it difficult to communicate with human beings. She encored with another field hollering no guitar, vox alone ox song.
Cover song of the night: Somewhere mid-sit she wondered if Fresh Prince of Bel Air had made it to London. Encouraged by fans, she went on to her own take on the the TV sitcom’s theme . . . alienation device or, as she said, one of the few non-gloomy moments in the set which lasted an hour-plus.
Noteworthy: Cold Specks said this would be her last solo show ever . . . not sure if it’s so because she told us she had made the same vow in Halifax on Oct. 18 before a band joined her for much of the tour. (JBNBlog assumes that is what she meant) . . . here is a review of Cold Specks at Chicago (just before London) from massfrequency.org
The true star of the show was powerhouse vocalist Al Spx of Canadian Doom Soul band Cold Specks. Gracing the stage in a dress that would make Ida B. Wells herself proud Al set the tone for her performance. Cold Specks could be described as an amazing indie folk rock band at first glance but there’s something much deeper to the sounds they produce. The band is performing modern-day spirituals paying homage to an oral tradition passed down from slavery. It’s almost as if Chris Cundy is raising the dead when he hits bone rattling low notes on the Bass Clarinet. Together the band create seamless wall of sound centered around Al’s poetic lyricism. Watching them makes you feel as though you’re being let into something private an intimate shared moment. After seeing Cold Specks live you feel it in your soul.
*A few brief reports on a weekend when soprano Adrianne Pieczonka, roots music supergroup Blackie and The Rodeo Kings and songwriter/singer/rising star Cold Specks headlined in London. Other Canadian content on the weekend included The Sheepdogs and London’s The McCartney Years. JBNBlog missed those Friday, Nov. 30, events . . . but was delighted by The London Singers/Beal Singers/orchestra event with guests on Sunday, Dec. 2, at Dundas St. Centre United Church. David Weaver directed & Rachel Snow & Ross McDonald were guests.