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ART BERGMANN - Commodore Ballroom - tiina liimu photo
ART BERGMANN - Commodore Ballroom - tiina liimu photo

Commodore Ballroom - September 6, 2014 

After a lengthy “retirement” Canada's punk rock poet laureate Art Bergmann seems to have reclaimed his muse. Driven by his own anger, passion, exile, and bitterness, Bergmann is packing enough vitriol and vengeance to lay waste to pretty much any current artist who dare cross his path. On the heels of a killer batch of new tunes featured on his 2014 EP release Songs for the Underclass, his recent Commodore Ballroom performance found Bergmann fronting a crack band featuring guitarists Steven Drake & Alex Varty, bassist Kevin Lucks, drummer Jon Card and - for my money the evening's secret weapon – Paul Rigby on “Sleepy Pete Kleinow” steel guitar and occasional mandolin.

Bergmann added his own brand of emotional, penetrating noise guitar on top of a tight and intricately wound base where Varty played Robert Quine/Richard Lloyd to Drake's sinewy Mick Ronsonisms and Lucks and Card kept the train a rollin’ with a solid, heavy meat and potatoes rhythm that recalled Crazy Horse when needed and, a more finesse/groove Sadies-like mode when the band was not heading into the outer limits on an emotional foray into epic guitar fest heaven.

Bergmann was not holding back any punches as he drilled his band like a man possessed. Like a mutant genius juggernaut enveloped in the mental pain of his “lost years” as much as the physical pain of a back mangled beyond repair Bergmann spent the evening contorting like some sort of insane circus freak. He took it to the audience as hard as himself or his band – storming through a set peppered with both his greatest hits (that never were but should have been) and new tracks that either held their own or, as Company Store, blazed past the history lessons to present a 2014 vintage Bergmann that appeared ready to reclaim his post on the Mount Rushmore of Canadian songwriters along with Cohen, Young and Mitchell.

The Courtneys, a Vancouver all-female three-piece band held their own on the big stage. Singer/drummer Jen Twynn Payne has a voice that perfectly compliments the band's 4AD/dreamy post-punk sound. Shimmery guitars and solid upper register basslines recalled Adrian Boreland's classic neo-pop band The Sound.

- Boy Howdy