Concert Review: Karen Kosowski @ The Central, Toronto 1/6/08

The first of three Sundays found the audience bearing witness to the strong community vibe of the Toronto indie scene when scheduled opener Sunshine State was unable to step up and open as planned.  With Aleza’s voice AWOL courtesy of the latest circulating cold, the Lost-esque connections between several local musicians provided the eager crowd with an enjoyable opener all the same.  With James Bryan on guitar, ‘channeling Aleza’s spirit’, and Marc Rogers stepping up last minute to play bass, the duo jammed through several instrumentals, including Sunshine State staple covers Nothing Compares 2U and Mas Que Nada, a James original from his solo work, and a rendition of Coldplay’s The Scientist.

(Very random note:  if you have not yet heard the eerie mash-up of The Scientist and Pieces by Sum 41, please follow this link, where the creepy is creatively presented….)

Karen is employing a duo set-up for these intimate gigs at The Central (an amazing little place with fantastic staff and food;  visit them online at thecentral.ca), but it isn’t her usual dynamic of she on piano and guitar with Marc Rogers on bass;  instead, it’s a piano/guitar and drum combo, with her brother Mike Kosowski accompanying her.  For the new album material, it lends a strong, energetic feel to songs that are predominantly uplifting and driving in nature;  for older, moodier songs like set opener We’ll Find You, it makes them somehow darker and demanding.  I like the dynamic;  it certainly puts a new spin on the live classics.  Bridging between the old duo set-up and a full-band show, it works better than it might sound on paper.  I have to say, the trio of Marc, Mike and Karen is even stronger, as the impromptu summoning of Marc onstage for Optimist Party staple song Crazy Little Game was thoroughly enjoyable (even if it did interrupt his dinner!).

I’m looking forward to weeks two and three, particularly because Karen has a rather large variety of songs to play with when creating sets now, which makes for less predictability and therefore more anticipation.  I poked and prodded her post-show over some of the old songs, but I’ll believe Planet happening live when I see it. :p

Karen plays The Central January 13th and 20th.  For more updates, take a wander over to Karen’s site and get on the mailing list.

SETLIST – KAREN KOSOWSKI TORONTO 1/6/08

We’ll Find You
Land On Your Feet
Meeting The Future At Full Speed
Love & Bandaids
Important
Monday
Crazy Little Game
Tragic
Your Day Will Come
Can’t Fail Anymore
More Than A Sign
Stars In Our Eyes

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