Tasty Jackson-Triggs wine, a moonlit summer Niagara on the Lake night and the hypnotic, foot-stomping charm of Spirit of the West
Lead guitarist, vocalist, head shaven, broad smiling, volcanic erupting vegetarian, John Mann, exudes kinetic energy at the Jackson-Triggs amphitheatre on an appropriately full-mooned summer evening, much to the delight of another sell-out audience as he imitates Rudolf Nureyev performing grand jetés or famed NFL wide receiver, Jerry Rice, launching himself into the air, it seems for the pure
joy of it, landing sprightly, bouncing and not missing a beat.
Beside him, a less animated Geoffrey Kelly, flute, whistles, bodhran, and guitar player extraordinaire, alternates with the pre-song banter, warming in one protracted monologue to his Scottish roots. One of Canada's finest Celtic musicians, he wears a farmer's straw hat and performs well-received solos while Vince Ditrich bangs away at the drums lamenting that "they
always forget me" when it comes to the credits as he ably assists with his pounding percussion and vehement vocals.
Geeky-looking Tobin Frank, even less animated than Kelly is terrific on piano, organ, and accordion while lanky Hugh McMillan remains the coolest of all, Zen-like content tonight with his brand new bass guitar.
Put them all together on stage and you have the vibrant Spirit of the West, yet another superb music attraction presented by Marquis Entertainment here in Niagara on the Lake for the wine-sipping crowd, enthralled for a solid two hours, an evening of foot-stomping tunes that has fans frenetically dancing on the grass sidelines and waving arms in glee.
At the band's finale,
Home For A Rest the entire crowd collectively jumps to its feet and bounces to the contagious beat. Earlier, SOTW played many of their all-time hits such as
And If Venice Is Sinking , and crowd favourite,
Geoffrey Kelly explains the origin of
Goodbye Grace written in honour of his 3-month old premature son, Ben, born at only two pounds, four ounces in weight and forced to remain in Vancouver's Grace Hospital for three months. Mann, in turn, explains that
The Rites of Man concerns the loss of a parent and child. and their lyrics thereby acquire deeper meaning particularly when they play a tune in memory of
Sue Rodriguez, the BC woman who ended her own quickly eroding life.
They are generous in their offerings, singing
Save This House ,
Five Free Minutes ,
Tell Me What I Think ,
Another Happy New Year ,
Throw Your Arms ,
July and many more.
SOTW began as a folk trio in Vancouver 30 years ago. Thirteen albums later, this Canadian folk rock band, popular on the Canadian folk music scene in the 1980s before evolving a blend of hard rock, Britpop, and Celtic folk influences, were one of Canada's most successful alternative rock acts in the 1990s. They have achieved status as one of the most beloved 'Legacy Artists' in Canadian history, having proven themselves to be road-worthy and durable, having toured Canada, the US, UK and Europe consistently, building a dedicated following of fans from all over the world.