Friday, November 12, 2010

Concert Review: Grinderman, Armen Ra - The Phoenix Concert Theatre - Toronto, ON - November 11, 2010

Grinderman kicked of their North American tour last night in Toronto to a packed house at The Phoenix.  The supporting act was Armen Ra, a Theremin player who looked like Pee Wee Herman and played what I can only describe as music to play while levitating.  This was, without doubt, the most out-of-place opening act I have ever seen.  It would be the equivalent of having Zamphir open for Slayer.  Ra did his thing, whatever the hell it was, and went on his merry way.  I have never seen a crowd so angry and confused at the same time... truly bizarre.  The only question I have is, why?

After a quick sound-check, Nick Cave and the rest of Grinderman took to the stage and turned it up to 11, well, more like 14 actually.  I could feel the bass in my chest as the band opened up with "Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man".  In true Cave fashion, it was aggressive and powerful.  Throughout the set, Grinderman delivered a healthy selection of tunes from their new album including "Kitchenette", "Heathen Child", "Worm Tamer" and "Palaces of Montezuma". 

They also played material from their debut album, including an inspired version of "No Pussy Blues", "Get It On" and "Honey Bee (Let's Fly to Mars)".  For those who are familiar with Nick Cave, you know he is a showman.  He always puts it all on the table and leaves nothing behind - and last night was no different.  Overall it was a great show. I will look forward to the next time Cave comes to town.


Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man
Worm Tamer
Get It On
Heathen Child
When My Baby Comes
What I Know
Honey Bee (Let's Fly to Mars)
No Pussy Blues
Bell Ringer Blues


Palaces Of Montezuma
When My Love Comes Down
Man in the Moon
Love Bomb


  1. Anonymous12.11.10

    Armen Ra is a phoenominal artist. if Nick Cave is comfortable with this set then there's no need for you to ask why.

  2. I'm not questioning the talent at all, it's not my cup of tea, but certainly respectable. I stand behind my question though... this was not the proper audience for his talent, in my opinion. Looking around and listening to the comments of others in the crowd would lead me to believe I'm not alone.

  3. An amazing show and I was blown away by the sounds that Warren put out there... Killer tones!

    And opening up the encore set with "Palaces of Montezuma"... brilliant!

  4. snagglepuss12.11.10

    I'm with Jrazy as regards Armen Ra - the guy played the theme from 'The Godfather' without a trace of irony. Discussion of his performance of Ave Maria is prohibited.

    More to the point, Grinderman provided a fearsome spectacle last night - 'Heathen Child' was a particular standout for me. The man's voice often strays from the song but he remains one of our greatest musicians and a splendid showman to boot.

  5. Sister Sue12.11.10

    As a long time Nick Cave fan I am certainly looking forward to seeing him on this tour. While I don't usually research an opening act very much, in this case, I made an exception. I think the choice of Armen Ra is inspired. I had never even heard of a Theremin before, nor had I heard of Ra. But now that I know what to expect I am thrilled that I'll be seeing him! I encourage other Cave fans to check out Ra and his music a bit before the show so that they can truly appreciate what they are seeing and hearing.

  6. Certainly one of the best shows I've ever seen. And I was confused by Armen initially, but appreciated his art regardless. He & Grinderman together were like the yin and yang of sonic experience.

  7. Dokta Owange15.11.10

    Grinderman put on a very powerful show - Cave was in mint form.
    Armen Ra...while I watched that I experienced a first - I felt mezmorized and angered all at the same time.
    I am not knocking the guy's talent - it just made me want to go out and buy a bunch of flyswaters, and UFO posters.

  8. Anonymous16.11.10

    Hey I have a bunch of videos from the show posted on my youtube page

  9. Anonymous29.5.11

    Just wanted to add here as I lately discovered Armen Ra's music. That's an incredible talent if you can appreciate the Theremin its an instrument played without touch and comes from 1928 Russian Professor Léon Theremin. Nick Cave himself has the ear for the unique talent so he probably asked him to open for them. Shame you didn't feel the beauty in the resonance.