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Originally published by Queen's Journal on Friday, October 25, 2002. All rights reserved.

Homegrown Talents

Friday, October 25, 2002 - Issue 17, Volume 130

By Renée Taylor, Queen's Journal, a Queen's University student newspaper

You know those nights when you can just feel something in the air? And that something tells you it's going to be a great night? That was the case with the packed crowd at AJ's Wednesday evening - we were all in store for something special. Three special somethings, in fact, as Dayna Manning, Holly McNarland and Wide Mouth Mason proved they were definitely the best show in town.

Stratford-born Manning took the stage first and warmed the crowd with half an hour of her emotive, folky, country-rock tunes.

She's a talented Ani-DiFranco-meets-Emm-Gryner hybrid, well on her way up the Can-rock ladder, as the overwhelming response to her parting number - the contagious radio-favourite "Addiction," off her debut CD Volume I - indicated. Backed by a band for the first time ever on tour, she and her three-piece effortlessly flowed through many new pieces from her latest album, Shades, including the current single "Miracle." The show clearly belonged to Dayna - the band was a mere backdrop for her commanding stage presence and unrestrained voice.

Armed with an oversized bottle of Jagërmeister, birthday girl and anti-diva McNarland took over the microphone to a "Happy Birthday" serenade from the crowd, joking, "the people I'm touring with claim [at 29] I'm almost a cougar." Proving them dead wrong, she and her band, including a long-haired Dave Genn on lead guitar, broke into a much-too-short set of old favourites from the pissed-off raging days of Stuff, released in 1997, as well as the finest features off the softer and gentler Home Is Where My Feet Are, released in June 2002.

Holly's best instrument has always been her trademark belting voice and new songs "Dallas" and "Beautiful Blue" brilliantly show off her oral talents. Still livened with animated gestures and teasing banter, but having lost the angst of younger days, Holly's show and material have clearly diversified and matured. As encore "Elmo" removed any evidence she's gone soft, the riot girl inside me who used to scream to Sour Pie in my bedroom was still secretly yearning for a little "Cry or Cum."

On to the indisputable headliners of the night, Wide Mouth Mason. Their performance brings the phrase "rock you like a hurricane" to mind. They took the stage and immediately launched into new material from their recently released Rained Out Parade, somehow sounding like they've played the material live for the better part of the last century.

Love them or hate them, there's no question the stylish trio from Saskatoon were born to perform. Shaun Verreault, Safwan Javed and Earl Pereira collectively assaulted the stage and beat it down. Simultaneously making love to instrument and audience, the group dazzled the fan-based crowd with a brilliantly devised set of old favourites and new soon- to-be hits including the current single and stunner of a title track "Rained Out Parade" which has that damn catchy chorus I can't seem to get out of my head.

"It's anarchy!" Verreault declared, and amidst the whiskey shots, mostly naked guitar techs, improvisation and jam sessions, the onstage party was comfortably and energetically out of control. Signing off with an encore of Prince's "Darling Nikki" that included Holly and Dave back on stage, a birthday cake and another serenade, it was a formidable end to the best entertainment Kingston's seen since the Mango Kid. If you missed it, you'd best cross your fingers that any one of these three bands will return soon.

Copyright © Queen's Journal

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