James & Northey. Unplugged, except for all the plugs.

Carole and I caught Colin James and Craig Northey at the Arts Centre last night. There's no real point in a review of the show -- you either attended last night or already have tickets for tonight -- but we both enjoyed it.

The real surprise for me was this Northey fellow. I'm not party to the music scene and had never heard of the guy, yet I knew all of his songs (including, of course, the theme from Corner Gas). He's a true song writer, and I would have liked to have heard more. He also produced a very clean tone from his amped acoustic.

James was less of a surprise; I've been listening to him since Voodoo Thing appeared on the Friday night video show in my high-school days. He sure has pipes though, and fingers to match. I did find his guitar playing a little more cluttered. Nimble digits aside, sometimes there are too many notes. But you can excuse a lot when you see how much fun he's having playing -- judging by his Happy Feet. I especially appreciated his deviations from standard blues riffs, veering away from dominant seventh chords at unexpected moments.

Although not advertised as an "unplugged" concert, it was more amplified than I anticipated. And, while I completely understand the rationale, I still find it amusing to see a Marshall valve amplifier with microphones stationed fore and aft.

As mentioned in the Yukon News article, James doesn't have an outgoing stage presence; Northey was visibly more comfortable bantering between songs. That, and the occasional audio glitches -- including a memorable "Whoa" -- made for an intimate event.

I briefly met Colin James in 2000 when he came up to play at the Thunder on Ice race. He was just hanging around the Westmark convention room chatting with anyone. I couldn't muster the courage to ask him about a long-past David Letterman appearance that featured a horribly out-of-tune guitar. Poor guy soldiered on, bending every single note into pitch.

Archived Comments

  1. James King on 20071125.Sunday:
    Hi...I Googled for james concert, but found your page about Northey. Unplugged, except for all the plugs....and have to say thanks. nice read.