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Patrick Watson at the Cedar Cultural Center

4 Dec

Patrick Watson is hardly a household name in America, and for that matter, even in Canada, despite having won (in a rather surprising upset) the Polaris Prize in 2007, over such albums as Arcade Fire‘s ‘Neon Bible‘ and Feist‘s ‘The Reminder‘. Watson’s brand of lush instrumentation and personal lyrics have been compared to Rufus Wainwright, Andrew Bird and Jeff Buckley just to name a few, but on the surface his music is a bit more obtuse and less pop oriented than those others.┬áSeeing Watson live however, he is every bit as engaging of a performer as those in that list of other great artists.

Playing the Cedar Cultural Center for his second time in six months supporting his latest album ‘Adventures In Your Own Backyard‘, his stage setup was a bit more fleshed out, with dual circular screens on both sides of the stage where random imagery and videos were projected onto at times throughout the show. This gig was also more electric and heavier than the previous Cedar show, which featured numerous hushed moments that would give even the most jaded music fan chills. That’s not to say that there weren’t a handful of the more stripped down a capella moments as well, but they were often overshadowed (and rightfully so) by the slow building numbers which ended in a heavy cacophony of noise. At one point towards the end of the main set, Patrick was joined by two of the Twin Cities premiere drummers, J.T. Bates (who played drums in the opening act, Guitar Party), and Martin Dosh, whom Patrick explained he had met (along with Guitar Party’s Jeremy Ylvisaker) while touring with Andrew Bird.

If I had to make one (rather minor) complaint, it would be that sometimes Patrick’s often goofy and silly nature on stage, while quite endearing, can sometimes come off as distracting, especially when he stops a fairly serious and hushed song on piano right in the middle to laugh out loud and mumble something to himself. I’m all for artists having fun on stage, but sometimes it sort of ruins the moment for me. That aside, both of Patrick’s Cedar shows are among the best shows I saw all year (and trust me, I’ve seen a few). Considering that he went from having the venue about 1/2 full to over 3/4 full in the span of six months, I can only hope that by the time Patrick returns, he not only sells out the Cedar in advance, but possibly even graduates up to a slightly (and more than deserved) larger venue, as he is truly a special artist.

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