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Everyone’s Dancing at the Plaskett Ball

By François Levesque on May 21, 2009

Photo courtesy of blurasis on Flickr.

Photo courtesy of blurasis on Flickr.

This post is by Amanda Putz, CBC Radio host and new contributor to It is reproduced with permission under a Creative Commons license agreement. Make sure to check North by East West, it’s an awesome Canadian music blog.

It’s hard to say anything that hasn’t already been said about Canadian indie sweetheart Joel Plaskett and his live show. Sure his voice sometimes cracks when he’s gymnastically vaulting the parallel bars of his falsetto and natural mid-range.

Fine, he’s no matinee idol but his boyish cuteness causes women, girls, and even the straight boys to don silly smiles and sway as they hang on his every lyric.

Ok, he looks like he’d break if he busted any real moves but his awkward disco-shuffle is charming beyond belief.

Plaskett’s an entertainer. With a repertoire to draw from that lists longer than his own lanky leg, he’s got enough material to refresh the set-list in every city he returns to. Last night in Ottawa he combined, for the first time, his old stalwarts The Emergency with his latest touring band consisting of his dad Bill, Rose Cousins, and Ana Egge. You can read a review of the acoustic show in Vancouver here.The first 45 minutes of the show at the Joel-dubbed “Charles Bronson Centre for the Arts” was the acoustic foursome with Rose and Ana each getting a turn at playing one of their own tunes. Both were lovely, but my bias as a huge Rose fan wooed me further with her sweet voice accompanied by Joel on electric guitar for Lost in the Valley.

The first set was sparsely beautiful and special with the addition of the girls’ perfect voices. The only real black spot (besides the Bronson Centre’s notoriously unreliable sound) was that two of the tenderest songs were marred by some inappropriate clap-alongs by a group of audience members. Both Rose’s song and Joel’s virtually rhythmless slow stunner Heartless, Heartless, Heartless were punctuated by people that probably meant well but should have clued-in when the rest of the house didn’t clap along; the timing just wasn’t right.

The sweetness of Set #1 was followed by the show really putting on its party dress with the arrival of Peter Elkas, Dave Marsh, and Chris Pennell. Joel began to sweat, the girls were almost dancing when they weren’t playing instruments, and about 100 people left their seats to fill the wide berth between the stage and the front row (much to those in the first 10 rows chagrin).

By the time Joel took his seat at the drum kit for Fashionable People during the encore we were all standing and dancing along. Check out Emily Chen’s video of F.P. on her blog.