Rainbow Quartz artists seem to be fairly frequent visitors to Ottawa (the most recent being Israel’s Rockfour little more than two weeks earlier). Psyche-pop singer Denise James performed at Ottawa’s Bluesfest only a few months previous to her Dominion Tavern show.

Casey Comeau and the Half-Milers were short a member (one time Pennyblackmusic writer, banjoist and guitarist Darrell Angus was MIA) but still turned out a capable set of country rock. A solo turn by Comeau, where she made full use of her higher register, was particularly transcendent.

James took the stage in company with a pair of Volebeats (most notably Matthew Smith, also of Outrageous Cherry) and a new drummer.

This sophomore appearance was noteworthy for too reasons: For one, it was far superior to her outdoor appearance. In my Pennyblackmusic review of that show, I noted she seemed “… quite mild-mannered. Due to either her own lack of projection or some oversight by the soundman, her voice seemed quite low in the mix. … it was obvious from a slowly shrinking crowd that she wasn’t holding people’s attention. I would say her music obviously calls for a more intimate venue …”

Can I call ’em, or what? Her robust take on the Sandie Shaw school of girl pop and French ye ye was perfect for the Dom, and she seemed far more at ease. Although she isn’t the most outgoing of performers, at least she managed the odd quip, as when she introduced one song as being about “an old boyfriend … actually, I think most of them are about old boyfriends …” I’ve raved often enough on these web pages about Matthew Smith’s skill with the guitar, and he was sharp as ever.

The audience implored the band back for three encores (“We’ve played everything we know, so we’ll start from the beginning again”).

The audiences itself deserves some mention; it was the Saturday before Halloween, and after the cash closed for the evening, various costumed party-goers wandered in. Unfortunately, most of the zombies left before I could snap a picture of them grooving to a France Gall cover. (There was some confusion about whether the various members of the walking dead were based on the same movie, or were a sort of double-feature – later questioning revealed that in fact one group was the ill-fated Donner Party, the other 'Shaun of the Dead'.) Top marks to the chap dressed as laundry, complete with laundry line linked to a small tree on rollers he pulled behind him.

A very entertaining show.















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