Date of show: July 12, 2012
Written by: Chiara DiAngelo
While Dan Griffin put out his solo effort Leave Your Love last September, this was an album release show of sorts as it was his first opportunity to play in Toronto to promote it (not counting his solo NXNE set) since he has been busy at school this past year. Griffin went on hiatus from his keyboarding duties with the Arkells to attend law school, somehow first finding time to finally finish this beauty of a record that was years in the making. Judging from the fact that he packed The Dakota to capacity and left a line-up of people down the street trying to get in, it was pretty obvious that Toronto had been greatly anticipating this show.
Griffin first came out on stage with just his guitar for “Stars and Satellites” before The Regrets – The Rev Aaron Goldstein (guitar, pedal steel), Adam Melnick (keys, mandolin), Mike Atcheson (bass) and Rich Knox (drums) – joined him for “She’s A Drug.” While I’d previously seen Griffin a few times solo, this was the first I’d seen him backed by his band. The additional instruments added so much depth to the songs I’ve come to adore. For example “Dear Serena,” the song I’d requested he play via Twitter earlier in the day, has since been reworked and the addition of the pedal steel gave it such an interesting twang that it actually took me until the chorus to recognize it.
His set was filled with tunes from Leave Your Love as well as older tracks from his EP Stars And Satellites, and even his dreamy cover of Wolf Parade’s “Yulia.” He dedicated “Lorne Park” to his parents Marilyn and Mike and the rest of his family in attendance. About his hometown, this one got the largest reception from the audience, many of whom were likely hometown friends. He finished his set by sending out title track “Leave Your Love” to Howie Beck who not only produced the record but also pushed him to finish it, and then launched into the catchy “Age of Empires,” a great choice to close with.
Making us wait a year for this performance, Griffin thankfully came back out for an encore, performing a new song on his own before the band rejoined him, bringing his brother Dave – who looks just like him! – out with them for a final jam. Dave took over guitar duties so that Dan could just rock out, belting into the microphone like the superb performer that he is.
If you haven’t yet, the album is available for free download. Filled with folk gems and moving, well-crafted lyrics, to call it beautiful is a drastic understatement. Next up, Griffin and Co. will be at Hillside Festival in Guelph on Friday July 27th – the Arkells are playing that night as well!
Toronto’s Lou Canon opened the night. With a band behind her, Canon alternated between the keys and guitar, even plinking away on the xylophone on one song. Her cute child-like voice and simple yet sweet pop-folk songs from her self-titled album (produced by Hayden) made for a charming opening set and an excellent complement to the man who would take the stage after her.
Unfortunately her voice was on the quiet side, and it was often difficult to hear her, especially her between-song banter, over the din of the already large crowd. I think she realized this as well as towards the end she commented that they were going to “try and compete with all the talking” and subsequently cranked the sound up a notch. She appeared to grab the attention of the audience and, at the very least, she managed to get a couple of them dancing.