Keith Richards’ other great band kicks out all the jams in Vancouver



By Steve Newton

The Rolling Stones have owned the Granville Mall of late. A couple of months back Ronnie Wood played the Commodore; now Keith Richards has ripped things up a few doors down at the Orpheum. Maybe Mick Jagger will continue the trend and drop by the Yale for a blues jam.

Until that happens, Richards/Stones fans lucky enough to nab tickets to the sold-out Orpheum show last Tuesday (January 19) will just have to bask in the glory of a fine gig, which kicked off with Eddie Cochran’s “Something Else” and clocked in with the Stones’ “Happy”.

In between, the craggy-faced rocker and his hand-picked band, the X-Pensive Winos, concentrated on tunes from his two Virgin albums (the most recent, Main Offender, may be the best thing he’s done in 20 years).

“I can’t wait to hear him do ‘Gimme Shelter’,” enthused label-mate Colin James in the lobby before the show, and Richards didn’t disappoint James or anybody else with that song and its timely message of war that’s “just a shot away”.

As the tunes rolled by I kept waiting for one particular number to incite former tobacco fiend Richards to light up, but he never did. Maybe the skeletal fellow has finally realized that, with the big Five-O in sight, there’s only so many nails left to drive in the coffin.

Instead, Richards kept his skull-ringed fingers busy slashing out those classic rhythm/lead chops that Chuck Berry wishes he could steal back. When the substantial two-hour show drew to a close the overall impression was that, as long as Richards can still bend his knees, toss his shoulders, and fling his head back, he’ll be rockin’.

From the looks of things, premature rigor mortis will not set in.

Local warm-up act Copyright—also known as Circle C and just plain ©—did a commendable job covering for original openers Soul Asylum. It was the first time I’d seen the band, even though there’s been a sizeable buzz surrounding it for some time (the Straight’s own Alex “King of Feedback” Varty has been praising it from day one). The guitar-heavy group has a subtle instrumental intensity and simmering fury which—when combined with charismatic vocalist Tom Anselmi’s raw delivery—cuts straight to the bone.


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