Show Review - Phil Flowers CD Release @ The Paramount (Moncton) Nov. 25th 2010

Review by Mario Gautreau
Photography by Christine Lund
Video by Pat Rousselle and Jonah Haché

Phil Flowers might be strange, but he’s no stranger to the music scene. A veteran of post-punk projects that have leaked from Moncton over the last several years, Mr. Flowers has spent the last little while carving his craft as something I could only term as post-folk. The release of his first full length, People People, culminates a period through which his job left him in Oromocto hotels rooms in the evenings. Little did his employer know, an acoustic guitar, a typewriter and some whiskey also inhabited his room. The eveningstarted early – for Moncton’s standards – and saw Phil open for himself in a solo performance that included a few numbers from his album. The crowd was well-numbered when the guitar started strumming and his voice began reciting its poetic footwork. The man has ravaged through Kerouac, Ginsberg, Dylan, Thompson and has made a point that he likes to play with words. His short opening set was a great tease for the rest of the evening.

Without missing a beat, special guests John Jerome & The Great 88 graced the stage for a two-piece performance of guitar and piano (hence the number). Their sound is loose and free, and flows into neatly structured songs and suave harmonies that highlight both John’s and pianist Julie Doucette’s voices. Their art-rock sound and do-it-yourself approach adds a delicate ruggedness to something between a classic 60’s sound and alternative rock. The band is reputed for its unorthodox merchandise: this occasion saw them hand out little bottles of soap bubbles personalized with the group’s name and child-like drawn faces.

When Phil Flowers returned to the stage, four musicians accompanied him. It was the first time his group had numbered so high – the surprise musician was Julie Doucette accompanying Flowers on piano and back-up vocals. The first songs I saw from a black and white screen the Paramount has over the bar which projects a camera feed angled overhead from the stage. Phil’s dashing good hooks and the band’s tight dynamic showing on the screen almost felt like a broadcast of the Ed Sullivan Show. His sound is reminiscent of influences as timeless as Bob Dylan and as local as The Nuclear, with a gamma of others in between. The show-goers were carried through a set that rocked, swayed, caressed and punched through the songs. All the while, Phil’s double-entendre lyrics – what I feel is one of his best strengths -- permeated through the speakers. His wit was matched only by the cast of musicians who knew the subtleties of their craft. Everything felt in its right place.

Here’s hoping Phil Flowers makes a mark for himself around the Maritimes, as the substance of his music and its urgent universality would do good between any pair of ears.

Jonah Hache

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