College radio plays an outsized role in the spread of independent music in Canada (as it does in the U.S.), and CKCU, which broadcasts from Ottawa’s Carleton University, is one of the best known and most highly regarded.

In honour of its 30th anniversary, the station’s staff, alumni and admirers decided it would be a good idea to get together, drink a lot and listen to rock’n’roll. Granted, they do a lot of this anyway, but on this special occasion they roped in Akron, Ohio, blues rock duo the Black Keys to top the birthday cake.

The first act of the evening was rough-hewn folk rockers the Golden Famile. They were just concluding their set as I reached the top of the stairs that leads into Barrymore’s gilded and mirrored ballroom, but sounded in fine fettle.

Next up were the Weapons of Mass Seduction. With a caveman stomping drummer in Bill Bombshell, and two guitarists- the Duke and Jake Heartbreak – the trio sounds something like the Cheater Slicks on a steady diet of Bo Diddley. Frontman Jake was in particularly antic form, not only showing off his trademark kicks, but leaping from Bill’s drum, pursuing a photographer around the edge of the stage and cavorting with the Duke. For a finale, the band set instruments aside and delivered an a cappella version of 'Up Jumped the Devil'.

The next act was Detroit soul singer Nathaniel Mayer. Mayer made his name with singles like 'I Want Love And Affection (Not The House Of Correction)' and 'Village of Love', then dropped out of sight, only resurfacing in the wake of the success of Andre Williams.

While waiting for Mayer to take the stage I couldn’t help but notice Detroit notables Matthew Smith (Outrageous Cherry, Volebeats, THX) and Troy Gregory (Dirtbombs, Witches, Flotsam and Jetsam) and correctly divined they were in town to support “Nay Dog”. Joined by Dave Shetler (The Sights, Mood for Moderns), they provided a more psychedelic background for Mayer.

Mayer took the stage in a powder blue tux, leather studded collar, sunglasses, a set of bling-encrusted dollar sign knuckledusters and a white shirt with a five-inch collar. He quickly launched into 'Tell Me Your Name', a naked entreaty to a woman to get it on with him. He pointed out a number of the crowd’s more shapely ladies during the song, and never wasted an opportunity throughout the set to demonstrate that he’s as horny a geezer as ever. Songs like 'Satisfied Fool', which were more rock-and-soul on his Fat Possum album 'I Just Want to Be Held', were pulled out into funk odysseys as he riffed on the choruses at length.

He also ordered the audience to answer all his questions by going “Hell, yeah!” and entreated it “To get me a damn drink, because I’m going to get motherfucking drunk tonight!”

As the show came to a close, he invited young women up on stage to “Shake what their mamma gave them!” – so they did. Unfortunately, one young woman gave the sexagenarian performer such a shove with her bum they toppled over on stage together. Fortunately, nothing was broken – one suspects it’s not the first time Mayer has been knocked over by a woman’s ass.

It was a sweaty and ribald performance from an old pro and a crack backing band.

After the show Mayer went down on the dance floor to mingle with the crowd and take photographs with various people – his rapport with the audience doesn’t end when he puts down the microphone.

The Black Keys also gave a very professional performance,replicating an hour’s worth of tunes from their three albums, including their well known covers of 'She Said, She Said' (a repeated request by the audience) and Captain Beefheart’s 'Grown So Ugly'.

The duo of Dan Auerbach and Pat Carney are energetic performers, but after the wild performance by Mayer, it seemed a little more practiced than it would otherwise. As powerful as it was, one could easily imagine them giving the same performance anywhere on their tour, which robbed it of some of its fun.

Despite that caveat, it was a very full night of entertainment.















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