Lou Barlow has had a storied career in indie music, first with Dinosaur Jr., then with Sebadoh/Sentridoh and the Folk Implosion. He came to Ottawa on tour in support of his new solo album 'Emoh'.

He was supported by a pair of very capable and entertaining local acts. First the Soft Disaster, aided by a newly acquired rhythm section, wowed the audience with their dual vocals and sophisticated pop buttressed by some uncommonly muscular guitar playing.

Then Flecton and the Dreamcatchers took the stage. Flecton (a.k.a. Miche Jette) is something of a local character, and his major chord rock has a seriously off-kilter aspect to it, but the sudden stops and starts, weird lyrics (and odder banter) and use of facepaint provide only paper-thin coverage to the talented songwriter underneath. Along with guitarist Scott Terry and drummer Tom Werbowetski he put on a vigorous performance.

In comparison, Barlow performed solo: It was just him, a couple of classical guitars, a looping pedal (don't start your one-man/woman show without one!) and a trio of microphones on a Tuesday evening at Babylon.

The whole show had a pleasantly spontaneous feel and lots of Barlow-audience interplay.

He played a few requests (early in the show he advised the crowd "I don't make a set list ... sometimes that works well ..." prompting one audience member to yell out 'Soul and Fire!' "Okay," he replied, and away he went.

The Barlow-crowd conversation was worth the price of admission itself, with a host of amusing asides about what caused the reformation of Dinosaur Jr. (“My mother and J. Mascis’ went to see Cat Power together … that’s how we roll now”) and of course his new status as a dad. His wife was back at the Travelodge on 'Rue Carling Street' with the child and a bottle of wine "so I imagine she's pretty buzzed by now."

This led to an amusing bit of banter where he emulated a few pathetic individuals asking if they would make suitable fathers. In one microphone, normally used to give his voice a crackly, cheap radio reverb sound he’d say things like “I’ve smoked a lot of marijuana and I’ve heard it can lower your sperm count … can I be a dad?”, He’d then reply – using the regular microphone and a cheery, avuncular boom of the sort usually used for public announcements: "Of course you can!"

Of course, the heart of his performance was a lengthy trawl through his extensive back catalogue, including his big hit 'Natural One'.It was a low-key but sublime show.

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Commenting On: Babylon, Ottawa, 4/10/2005 - Lou Barlow

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