We saw Spirit of the West at the Commodore Ballroom last night. The last time I saw the band perform was in the early 1990s at the University of Calgary cabaret. While certain members of the band have changed, the soul of the group John Mann and Hugh MacMillan remain strong. In fact, I have never seen anyone perform with as much energy as John Mann. He never stops bouncing!

Spirit of the West has such a huge back catalogue it must be a daunting task to pick songs for a live show. They played crowd favourite ‘Home for a Rest’ which had the entire crowd on the floor matching John Mann bounce for bounce singing loudly ‘take me home.’ As a nod to us old timers they played ‘Political’ and ‘Venice is Sinking.’ I probably knew about 75% of the content. I was surprised they did not perform their new single ‘Bulembu.’ We left before the encore so they may have played it then. The outstanding performance of the night goes to their current fiddle player. I can’t remember her name unfortunately. She is young and fabulously talented!

Fish+Bird opened for Spirit of the West. They were ok but seemed to lack some personality. Of course, pretty much any band will seem to lack personality when put up against Spirit of the West.

I liked the Commodore as a venue. We were able to make reservations so we did not have to stand. They kept it quite cool which is a challenge with that many people. My only real complaint is that it is just far too loud. Even when they were playing music before the show started I needed to put earplugs in because it hurt my ears. I can’t imagine how the staff there survives that onslaught.


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