Volbeat, Danko Jones, Spoken: Winnipeg, Canada – live review

Volbeat, Danko Jones, Spoken
MTS Center, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Winnipeg’s MTS Center played host to a night of international rock and roll as Copenhagen’s Volbeat rolled into town. Louder Than War’s guy in Winnipeg, Chris Hearn, was at the show in body, if not in spirit.

Well, how should I approach this review? I think it is safe to say that I was in a bad mood at this show, so I’m sure that it will taint my opinion on it. But I’ll attempt to be as fair as possible. To start with, this was at the MTS Center, which is a giant hockey arena. It’s not my favourite place to begin with. It’s very sterile, and there are so many rules, and so many people. I don’t mind a lot of people when I’m at an outdoor festival, but inside a dark hockey arena it’s not so great. Of course, when you see a show at the MTS Center it costs big bucks, food and beverages are expensive, and band souvenirs are at ridiculous prices. But I will go to an arena if there are bands that I really want to see, and I did want to see Danko Jones and Volbeat.

First off, opening band Spoken: Cookie cutter, bland, standard modern rock with forays into melodicore or whatever. They weren’t the worst band I have ever seen, but they are far from the best. They were tight, together, the lead singer had a decent voice, came across as a nice guy and had a good deal of energy. But, they were nothing to write home about. And, instead of bringing anyone extra on tour with them, they decided to have additional parts of their songs added in via tape or digital or whatever you want to call it. In other words, there was music going on that they weren’t playing. I felt this took away a great deal from the band. It was like they were trying too hard to be polished and perfect. It just didn’t work for me. They should have ditched those extras and just played.


Okay, now we get to the point of this review where I do a bit of ranting (as if I haven’t been doing that already). So, Spoken exits, the crews go to work getting things ready for Danko Jones, and the rock radio station that was presenting the concert sent three of their DJs up on stage. And, they were, to keep it clean, idiots. I shouldn’t say THEY were idiots, just the one guy in particular was. He was trying to do some lame joke that I didn’t get that basically was him wanting to get girls in the crowd to bare their breasts to him. It was just plain misogynistic stupidity I felt. The other guy wasn’t too bad, and there was a girl on stage with them and I have no clue what she was doing there. No one bothered to give her a microphone. She might have been nice, I don’t know.

But here is the thing. They get off, thankfully, and on comes Danko Jones not long after. Now, I really like Danko Jones, but there is no denying, his songs are pretty much all sex based songs. So, how can I feel rather disgusted by a radio DJ who is trying to get girls in the audience to bare their breasts and yet not be disgusted by Danko Jones? I’ve been trying to figure this out too. I guess I find that Danko is more like erotica, while the DJ was more like bad, alpha male oriented porn. Make sense? Danko sings about sex, having sex, craving sex, loving sex, loving women, loving sexy women….you get the point. But, I never feel like he does it in a degrading way, where women are below him – everyone is equal, and sex is fun for everyone. At the end of his show he gave a rather inspirational speech about self-esteem, and loving yourself, and knowing who you are….looking in the mirror and accepting the person you see. And that meant everyone there: Men, women and Neanderthal DJs alike. I liked this, and it helped to illustrate the difference between Danko and the DJ.


Okay, back to the show. Now, I haven’t seen Danko Jones play in maybe 15 years. That’s a long time. A lot changed in 15 years. He is older. I am older. He’s a little lower on energy. I am a LOT lower on energy. He didn’t come across with the same in your face BANG as he once did. The last time I saw him, he blew me away with his youthful vibrance, which has faded some. Still, he’s taken care of himself, there is no doubt. He looks good. And he plays good. And he talks good. He’s just a fun guy to watch perform. He has charisma. He has personality. And it was all on display. And he’s Canadian, so you gotta love him. And he showed his love for and to Winnipeg, basically declaring himself an honourary citizen. So, Danko Jones was a highlight.


Last up were headliners Volbeat. By this time, I think I was just tired and not really into it. I like Volbeat’s music. It’s hard, crunchy, very Metallica sounding, mixed with old country and rockabilly. How can I not like that? The problem is, they looked so out of place on the massive stage they were on. They aren’t an overly dynamic band. They basically just…play. Their sound is a big, arena filling sound. But, as a band, they would probably be far better in a smaller venue. This was kind of a common issue I found all night with all of the bands. They all looked out of place on such a huge stage, though they’ve all played massive festivals and are used to the big stages. I just think a smaller venue would have been better for all the bands. But, that’s more of a side note. Volbeat were good, definitely. They play good. They sounded fantastic, despite the fact they were in a cavernous hockey arena. Everything was good about them, I just wasn’t too into the show I guess, and the fact that they aren’t terribly interesting on stage didn’t exactly drag me back into the show. But the crowd loved them and seemed to have left happy.

And that, boys and girls, is the good, the bad and the ugly of it. That was what I experienced when Spoken, Danko Jones and Volbeat came to Winnipeg, Manitoba. Despite anything I have said, it was a worthwhile show to check out, and am glad that I went.

Check out the bands online at their official websites: Volbeat, Danko Jones and Spoken.

Ranting and Raving by Chris Hearn. More writing by Chris on Louder Than War can be found here.

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Deep in the heart of Canada, on the north shore of frigid Lake Superior, is a town called Thunder Bay. That\'s where I am from. That\'s where I started to write. And that is where I started to discover music. Now, I\'m a married man with two boys. I still love music. I still go to shows. And I still visit Thunder Bay, even though I haven\'t lived there for many years. What will you find on my iPod? You\'ll find lot of Americana, classic country, heavy stuff, punk and plenty of “guilty pleasures”.


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