Doubting the potential quality of a live Constantines performance is fairly uncommon. Those who have witnessed the band live can attest to this. However, it was difficult not to be sceptical about a daytime matinee that would be the first of two shows within one day. Would they give it their all? Would they satisfy both the sober all-ages audience and the likely "rowdier" nighttime crew?
Read on to find out÷
From the minute the funky drum and bass assault of "Poison" started, any remaining doubts were eliminated. It no longer mattered if it was five in evening, 11 at night or seven in the morning. Time did not exist. The entire audience was in the stranglehold of their straight up, honest, rock-and-roll tractor beam.
Visually, The Constantines achieved the difficult task of putting their hearts and bodies into the music without looking like they were trying too hard. Not resorting to any in-sync guitar jumps or power rock stances, they made you believe that they bleed rock, piss punk, and spit soul. They roared through favourites off of Shine A Light like "Young Lions" and the genius "Tank Commander".
Lead vocalist/guitarist Bry Webb shared front man status with vocalist/guitarist Steve Lambke who provided lead vocals on "Scoundrel Babes" as always. He also sang lead on a new unreleased track in which Webb showcased his saxophone skills. The audience was treated to several new tunes, which was an indication that the new Constantines album is well on its way.
Omitting some of their better-known tracks such as "Insectivoria", "Nighttime/Anytime (It's Alright)", and "Arizona" to make room for the newer tracks proved to be worthwhile. The hometown audience was receptive to the new material, which indicated a very impressive album in process.
Bassist Dallas Wehrle and drummer Doug MacGregor are perhaps the most entertaining rhythm section in rock today. MacGregor's drumming is ruthless. He showed no mercy on the drums as he flipped his sticks and batted the skins. Wehrle clad in a hilarious sleeveless jean jacket and sweatband combo put more effort into playing a single note than other bassists put into an entire set.
Whil Kidman, the organist/keyboardist, added even more charisma. He went from playing madly on the keys to sitting cross-legged on the ground providing handclaps and backing vocals.
"Shine a Light", obviously a favourite of many, had the audience supplying the handclaps that appear on the recorded version, showing how dedicated Constantine fans are. Midway through the song the Constantines stopped abruptly, raised their arms, and Webb shouted "raise your hands in the air if you love your life." The entire audience joined in, testifying to the gods of rock-and-roll that the Constantines are the chosen ones (Pardon my hyperbole but I love the Constantines).
At the shows end around 6:15 p.m. the audience was surely divided. Undoubtedly half went home to sleep, worn out from the entire show especially the intense Constantine led "hour of power". The other half, the night still being young, probably found some outlet to unload the excess adrenaline piping through their bodies. Both halves would agree though, that anytime the Constantines plug in and take the stage they deliver a quality show.
Even if it's dinnertime.
Writer: Steve Hamelin