The question of the night for the people in attendance of the double bill of Like a Motorcycle and Danko Jones was undoubtedly “Do You Wanna Rock?”. For those answering no, then the Marquee was absolutely the wrong place to be on Saturday Night. Like A Motorcycle has been honing their craft as they prep their full length debut (dropping this fall), which proves to be a hard hitting blast of unrelenting punk rock. The headliner Danko Jones are a potent trio, melting faces worldwide with their brand of blues-influenced hard-rock (if you need further proof, just check out Danko’s recent release Live at Grona Lund).
My first Danko Jones experience dates all the way back to April 14th, 2001 when a little known band from Ontario came to town in support of their 6 song EP entitled My Love is Bold. The band’s lead single “Bounce” was generating airplay, but aside from that I was largely unfamiliar when I walked into the Marquee that evening. I don’t recall there being an opening act, but Danko Jones hit the stage and proceeded to claim it as their own, and front-man Danko’s banter was better than most seasoned vets. It was a show that left an indelible brand on my soul and would beckon me back when Danko was in town, so when this show was announced I marked it on my calendar; but the moment that Like A Motorcycle was added to the bill, the show instantly became a must-see.
When the clock struck 9, KT, Michelle, Jillian and Kim took to the stage with their Schooners in tow to a somewhat scant crowd, but nonetheless proceeded to rip into a fierce set. It may have only been a little more than 30 minutes long but did not disappoint, as the number of folks on the dance floor had grown considerably. The LAM ladies proved to be the perfect band to open for Danko Jones as they primed the crowd with their hard-hitting punk rock tunes. They closed out the set with their most recent single “Hands” which had the crowd moving, and ready for the night’s headliners.
It was an interesting demographic on hand for the band’s most recent visit to Halifax, as it had grown substantially younger than I would have expected. It was great to overhear the pair of younger guys next to me pumped for Danko and hoping to hear “Lovercall”; they reminded me a lot of myself when I first caught the band in 2001. They were both considerably pumped to see Rich Knox, JC (John Calabrese) and the band’s namesake himself Danko Jones hit the stage. The band apologized to a somewhat puzzled crowd for the decade long drought since they’ve last headlined a show in Halifax, and invited the audience to boo the band for the inexcusable absence (I think the crowd was more pumped to have the band back on stage again – as was I). Let’s not forget that the band was here to open for Axl Rose’s Guns N’ Roses, and last year headlined one of the nights of the New Glasgow Jubilee, so the band has been around, just not headlining their own show.
Considering earlier in the evening the WWE was putting on their own house show, one has to wonder if Danko stopped by to offer the sports entertainers some tips on how to cut a promo and banter with the audience. Mr. Jones has been one of the best talkers in the rock n’ roll game and has always felt polished and well honed when he’s addressing the crowd and any unruly attendants. It was a skill that was on display when things got a bit awkward with one overzealous fan who wanted to horde the attention of the front-man for himself. It was only exacerbated by the fact that Danko’s sarcastic response went completely unregistered by this guy (who also awkwardly hyped talented local singer/songwriter Mike Trask during this encounter). Aside from the awkward fan, the unwanted air conditioning and an oddly placed stage post, this show echoed the same hunger and electricity as the band displayed during that show back in 2001.
The set-list for the night stretched over the band’s entire catalog and featured fan favourites “Lovercall”, “Legs”, “Cadillac” and the earlier allusion “Do You Wanna Rock?”. It was a night that left both the band and crowd sweaty and panting when all was said and done. The unrequited air conditioning was “Cheating” as per Danko, as his philosophy was to show the crowd how hard they were working to put on the best live show possible, so he wanted us to sweat right along with the band. It was a great night of quality rock n roll from the moment Like A Motorcycle hit the stage to the departure of Danko, JC and Rich, and the house lights came up. Every single expectation I had was exceeded, and this show was every bit as memorable as that first show back in 2001. I just hope the band doesn’t impose another decade-long drought and they get back to Halifax sooner than later (the opening acts for Moncton’s AC/DC show haven’t been revealed yet, and Danko Jones would be a great addition to the bill).