He is a Wild Party: Kim Mitchell at The Commodore
written by Rob Fillo
Granville street is packed with dolled up dames, dashing dudes and the local destitute, all striving for a little escape from the day-to-day. The entire downtown core of Vancouver echoes with buskers exploiting their talents in hopes of a little crowd retention. There are a few ‘ladies of the evening’ also hoping to exploit some talents of their own, but I have no time to delve into the anthropomorphic lives of the Bonobo apes in the Congo in hopes of explaining the sociological throws of downtown on a Friday night. I’m off to see Kim Mitchell.
There’s an ominous roar as I enter the Commodore Ballroom. Kim Mitchell is here and Vancouver know’s it. The AC is on full blast and it’s a good thing too. The place is packed and there is standing-room only. The demographic is varied and I find it hard to put the crowd into a type-box. Goates, Gandalfs and bodacious beauties mix and mingle tirelessly and with boisterous fervour. Whomever they are, they are pumped! The crowd chants along to a recording of Thunderstruck as we wait for the show to begin and I can’t help but notice the entire building quivering in anticipation of the main event.
I stride through the crowd in false bravado (as I am ME, Rob Fillo, the music reviewer…this evening at least.) Then I, ever so gracefully, cower in my favourite corner, stage left, in absolute awe of the plebs waiting for the gladiators to enter the Coliseum. I imagine being a Christian in Roman times, the Lions waiting to be fed.
In the stroke of epiphany (or maybe just a stroke,) I briefly use my time-travel phone and call up Oppenheimer. He’s puzzled by a certain problem and I feel I have found some information to help him out…Then IT happened. Fission!
The reaction travels quickly through the crowd with little sense of discrimination. The fans, young and old, begin to scream as Kimosabe kicks into high gear right away and takes everyone to wild world of Rockland. Paradise Skys, Rock and Roll Duty, then an amazing beautiful and touching rendition of Easy to Tame leap from the stage and into our respective sensory holes. The night goes on and the gaggle of crazed apes are cheering and screaming with delirious excitement. I see smoke signals arising from the crowd as the lights flutter over emphasizing the ecstatic faces. These flares, however, bring the attention of the diligent Commodore security staff who scurry throughout the crowd to put out the herbal-musical-enhancment. As soon as one joint goes out three more find light; there will be no success for the fire patrol tonight and the brushfire is now raging out of control…
Guitar licks are now becoming wanktacular and the solos are extending beyond space and time. Mitchell is burning up his fretboard in true 80’s fashion. His band sounds invincible and tighter than your best corset. Each beat is timed to perfection with the clockwork of Rush, but with a lot less of the prog in this rock show. Photographers line the front of the stage clicking away. I count 4 I think…or 6…There’s a mess of people down there grinding to Mitchell’s long, lazy, lizard licks, as he enters a ballad I don’t recognize. Strangely, he loses the crowd.
The place sound like a bar now. Everyone is talking and it’s taking away from the music. WTF happened? OK… I’m trying to make out the words. I think I just heard ‘love another man, [something ,something] love again.’ It sounds like a gay ballad. Literally, a ballad about man-love, brotherly love perhaps? Either way, I’m diggin’ it, but the crowd is totally off the wagon. It’s a beautiful song, whatever it is. Quite heartfelt. Then snap!
“I AM A WILD PARTY!” The crowd has, yet again, split the atom. Pandemonium ensues. Doctor Kim whips the crowd into a continuos frenzy as he rifles off track after track from his extensive (add emphasis) catalogue of super hits. At this point I notice how lovely the lights look as they fan over the massive sea of perspiring flesh. When the yellow gels are on the crowd looks like a lovely field of Canola as noticed when I last drove through the prairies that Summer when…Then I notice that I am unusually hungry and my mouth feels remarkably dry. Between the music and the skunky breeze I have managed to become near-paralytically intoxicated. I sip my drink to replenish some form of oral moisture only to have a fair amount of the beverage weasel it’s way out of the corner of my lips as drool…Mitchell tells an anecdote my short term memory just can’t hold on to, but I giggle as he punctuates his words with “shitballs.” I unwittingly do my best Beavis and Butthead impression.
The rest of the night is a haze of sensory overload. And just before the world started spinning uncontrollably, Kim Mitchell went out of his way to remind me to go for a soda…and I did…and it was good. And at that point it was clear that Kim Mitchell isn’t a Canadian rockstar, he’s a Canadian God.
all rights reserved
written by Rob Fillo
photo by Commodore Ballroom