Monday, April 7, 2014

WIL w/ Shaun Verreault @ Railway -- 04/06/14

Two of my favourite guitar players, especially to watch live, are William Mimnaugh and Shaun Verreault. And some of my favourite shows over the last ten years have been when those two shared the stage.
In fact, I first discovered WIL when he opened for Wide Mouth Mason at the Commodore many moons ago, and I've seen the pair do solo acoustic shows together a few times.
They wrapped up a very short, four date mini-tour at the Railway Club, where I've seen both play before, individually.

The Wide Mouth Mason frontman Shaun Verreault started the show going straight from his line check right into the set. He had a little bit of technical issues during the first song, his distortion pedal deciding it didn't feel like working ("that just goes to show, where there's a will, there's a won't") but it hardly phased him as he finished the song, even with electric guitar unamplified at one point. But it was a hurdle that was somewhat fitting with Shaun's "motto" for the brief tour, to try out the new and untested. Relying just on his electric guitar -- no acoustic -- Shaun included a brand new song he had never played before, one written for David Gogo, and he revamped a newer WMM song "The Night Fell", with some help from his looping pedal.
And of course, throughout the entire set he melted faces off with his phenomenal guitar work. Playing slide with his pinky, hands moving over the strings almost faster than you can follow, he is mesmerising to watch. One of the best showcases of his skills was "Catch My Death", a song from his Two Steel Strings solo album, recorded on a train speeding across the country. After a short while he wrapped up the set with a cover of Sam Cooke's oft-covered "Bring It On Home to Me", looking a little sad to be done such a short tour with his friend.

After a bit of a break, WIL took the stage joined only by his drummer Keith Gallant. His acoustic guitar looked like it had taken a beating for fifty years, but was likely not nearly that old, just showing the signs of WIL's intense guitar playing. But even though WIL may be known for his frantic, blurry-handed guitar playing, he's also got an amazing, soulful voice. And not only does he blend those two aspects together perfectly, sometimes it's even on the same song.
Started the set with "Long Kiss Goodnight", he played songs ranging from the brand new "El Paseo" to "Dance With The Devil" from his first album. Highlights included "Hey Now", which gradually built before exploding into chaos at the end, nearly silencing the Railway Club (no easy feat) and the first songs he ever wrote, and still a crowd favourite, "Both Hands". And after about an hour, he wrapped up with "Wedding Dress", but not before promising he would be back for more after a brief intermission, for people to grab a beer (or a cranberry juice and soda).
The second half of the set was a little shorter, taking a request for the incendiary "Honey Pie" and a couple songs he wrote for Alberta, where he grew up; "Ride" written for the Calgary Stampede, and "Roam" written for Travel Alberta.
And of course, it wouldn't be a WIL show without some broken strings. He snapped one during the final song of the set, "Tell You Twice", and after some prompting from the crowd, hopped back on stage for one last one, an incredible instrumental appropriately titled "4 String Song".

I could watch either of these gentlemen play guitar all night, so it's always great seeing the two of them together. And even though they didn't join one another, as they have in past shows, they always seem to bring out the best of each other. In fact, my only complaint of the night wasn't even anything to do with on stage, but rather the overly-excited guy in the crowd who thought he was part of WIL's band, playing the shrill-whistle and the off-beat-clap.

setlist
Long Kiss Goodnight, El Paseo, Hold Me On, Dance With The Devil, Hey Now, Oak Tree, Both Hands, Wedding Dress.
Baby Baby, Honey Pie, Ride, Roam, Tell You Twice.
(encore) 4 String Song.

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