Of all the shows that Bucketlist have attended, I think an LGBTQ bookstore is the most unorthadox “venue” we’ve been to. Vietnamese restaurant/karaoke bar is a very close second, but I digress. On July 27th, I saw Mike Nagoda and the Spectrum Blues Band play an intimate set at Glad Day Bookshop, a little place in the heart of Toronto’s Church-Wellesley village, and it was a great change of pace from what I’m used to.
Mike Nagoda used an interesting approach to his guitar playing, resting it on his lap and using it as a slide guitar to play his bluesy solos and fills. Mike covered many LGBTQ lyrical themes in his music, singing about lighthearted subjects such as gay Romans, to more serious issues like personal struggles. Between songs, Mike would often to a good job of introducing his next song, whether it be using a story on why it was written, or what the lyrics were about. A lot of the set’s entertainment value came from getting to know Mike’s backstory through his musical compositions, and they made his interesting lyrics a little more meaningful to the audience.
The blues three piece was solid. Comprising of bassist D’arcy Cain, and drummer Jeremy Ronson backing Nagoda’s leads on guitar, the three of them did an effective job of creating a familiar and enjoyable blues sound. They weren’t the tightest band, sometimes briefly getting lost in certain sections, but they did an effective job. Those iconic blues endings were a bit sloppy too, but, to be fair, it’s tough to stick the landing when the guitarist guiding the tempo is sitting with his back turned to the drummer.
In such an intimate setting like this one, Nagoda could have interacted with his audience much more effectively. Rarely looking up from his instrument, it was hard to get truly immersed in his set. Even when he would take time to explain the history behind each song, or what his perspective on writing it was, a bit of eye contact would have made his anecdotes a lot more effective. Those brief moments of eye contact were appreciated, like when Nagoda overlooked the audience as he told the story of how an album of his got pulled off the Canadian Amazon store. Those moments were pretty entertaining, and served as the perfect way to fill space between two songs.
His almost 90 minute set flew by, and was a great fit for the evening. Even people walking down the street stopped for a few minutes to check out the performance, including an unexpected visit from a dog that found its way into the shop. The band could hardly keep it together as Nagoda and company were chuckling mid-song at the situation. The show ended before the sun went down. All in all, it was a fun atmosphere, and Mike Nagoda and the Spectrum Blues Band were the perfect soundtrack.
Written by Mathieu Perrier
*edited by Lia Davis