Once again The Big and Wide Tour played to packed Ale House. Just when I thought it was going to be a once in a lifetime concert the first time it seemed that it didn’t take too long at all before They hit the stage once again. With both bands Wide Mouth Mason and Big Sugar releasing albums earlier on this year we got to here a selected few off of each album but they didn’t stop with just playing the new albums Wide Mouth Mason and Big Sugar still played all the songs that are and will ever be recognizable.
Wide Mouth Mason started the night off, even though this was my fourth time watching Wide Mouth Mason play live with Gordie Johnson and I am still amazed every time. They started their set off with one of their older songs “Why”. What I have always found about watching a Wide Mouth Mason set is the fact that each time you don’t know how each song is going to sound, due to the improvisations which Shaun can do to each song, and that is not even touching on the fact that they can make a three minute song stretch out into a seven minute without harming the songs integrity. Every time that I see Gordie play with WMM I am always surprised that he plays in a laid back fashion mostly due to the fact that I can only imagine what he can play on the bass yet he just lays back and goes with the flow of the songs. Shaun’s guitar skills will always astound me and tonight was no different, I am always amazed that during so many of his leads how he is able to keep his eyes closed as he plays I do not know of too many people who would be able to pull off anything even close to the same as Shaun plays.
The set was nicely mixed up with songs which covered most of their releases there were a couple of songs that I wanted and was looking forward in hearing and a couple that didn’t make the cut. “Why”, “Companion”, ”Waterfall”, “Smile” were a couple that made it to the set (There are more from the set). Just to name a couple. I was surprised that Safwan didn’t get a chance to do the usual vocal interlude that he normally does each set. I would like to find out how often Gordie has to change his Bass Strings, I don’t think I have ever seen a Bass guitar go through the punishment each night than what Gordie delivers.
The sound from the Bass was a definite strong element during their set or it might be due to the fact that I was pretty much standing right in front of the amp for the set, but the funk groove just so easily passed right through my body all set long. They didn’t really use the entire stage as I thought they would have, Shaun and Gordie did meet in the middle a couple of times but I was surprised that Shaun only ventured over to the other side of the stage a couple of times but only for a quick moment each time. At the end of their set they did end up playing five songs from No Bad Days.
After a quick break and only a slight change to the gear onstage, and the smell of incense rising from the basement, Big Sugar came out onto the stage with Friendlyness leading the way leaving a trail of smoke on the stage from his small incense burner, the smoke covered the entire stage and pretty much most of the Alehouse, Friendlyness light it up a couple more times throughout the first couple of songs, it was about five songs in before the smoke finally dissipated.
Going with the same idea as Wide Mouth Mason’s set list Big Sugar mixed it up between the old and the new. It didn’t take too long before one of the classic Big Sugar songs came on in fact “Diggin A Hole” was the second song on the set list. I was really looking forward in hearing once again, my all time favourite song “All Hell For A Basement” but it didn’t come until near the end of the set. As I had an interview with Gordie earlier on in the week he explained why the songs have changed a little live and that was due to the fact that each player ha
s their own ideas and ways of playing each song so that is why the songs are not the same as they were.
Gordie was also sporting one of his new double neck guitars as well. He seems to be favouring the new guitar a little more than his older guitars because he played the few songs on the double neck, even “Diggin A Hole”. I was actually surprised to see him play the same guitar for so long without opting for a different one. One of my favourite guitars which he does have in his Big Sugar arsenal is his white double neck Gibson, which always makes an appearance at some point in time, this is the guitar with the Canadian flag on the back of it as well. I actually got to hear two different versions of “Roads Ahead” with an acoustic one earlier on in the day at studio K-Rock and the live version of the song as well, This is one of my favourite songs off of the new album as well, I find this song really reflects and really mixes both the classic Big Sugar rock sound and the Reggae sound. “If Santa Don’t Bring You No Funk” even made it onto the set list tonight as well, which turned out to be a crowd pleaser by the time the song finished, this was also the second time that I got to hear the song being played live today.
Meredith Shaw got to come out from behind the amps and sing a few lines with Gordie and Friendlyness just as she did the last time they played the Ale House. I noticed Shaun had the guitar in hands and was playing quite a bit more than he did the last time they played. The decibel level was also kept down a little bit as well tonight, although I still only could manage to take out my earplugs for just one song “All Hell For A Basement” I still found the music quite tolerable without them in. One interesting songs which they did play was “Wild Ox Moan”, I don’t believe I have ever heard them play that song live before so it was a great change to their set, I was surprised that they slowed down the set so much to play the song as well, as the song was pretty much Gordie lightly playing his guitar and singing solo front and centre of the stage.
When “Ride Like Hell” was just about to start I was wondering if they were going to play the Grady Version of the song this time as they did the last time they were in Kingston as an encore song, but this time they played the Big Sugar version instead. To finish of the first set “All Hell For A Basement” was second last with Gordie blending in O Canada to finish the set off. After a quick break they were back out on stage and played two more songs to finish the night off.