Raffaella Berry's ProgDay review
Feverish Thoughts Nuance review
Mark Keill's Rainbow review
Nick Smith's Kaffe 1870 review
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Though the weather certainly did no favours to The Rebel Wheel, the Ottawa-based quartet, led by guitarist David Campbell and featuring a highly awaited guest appearance by keyboardist Guy LeBlanc (of Nathan Mahl and Camel fame) delivered a stunning (though somewhat short) set, featuring a slightly modified version of the 30-minute epic “The Discovery of Witchcraft”, the centrepiece of their 2010 album We Are in the Time of Evil Clocks. Being familiar with the album, undoubtedly one of the standout releases of last year, I was looking forward to the band’s set, which was a delight to start to finish – even if, by the time they got on stage, I was feeling somewhat faint, and lay half-slumped in my chair. The music, however, was so riveting that it was impossible not to listen intently.
Like a well-oiled machine, the band churned out flawless tune after flawless tune, their choppy, jazzy Crimsonian vibe well complemented by Campbell’s powerful, expressive vocals and LeBlanc’s masterful keyboard sweeps and rumbling organ flurries, while relentlessly driven forward by the splendidly pneumatic rhythm section of Andrew Burns and Aaron Clark. The dark, angular “Death at Sea”, from a 2005 Gentle Giant tribute album, was a particular highlight, with echoes of King Crimson’s “The Great Deceiver”. Though the epic was adapted to the absence of vocalist/saxophonist Angie McIvor (on leave following the birth of her first child), it lost none of its punchy, gutsy effectiveness. An impressively professional outfit, oozing confidence and flair, The Rebel Wheel manage to sound thoroughly modern while paying homage to the great Seventies tradition. I really hope to see them again in the very near future, and will be looking forward to their new album.
This Ottawa band played with so much feel and expression that night. Their sound was great and their approach to music showed a level of writing that I have not seen in many years. If they keep this up, then this will not be the last that we see/hear from these guys! Watch out for them.
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Their on stage presence is that of a bunch of fun loving friends that are just jammin’ in a hall, and you just happen to be there at that point in time! They first gave me the impression of a Bare Naked Lady that meets a Jazz fusion band. I think that the BNL’s are the most entertaining band to see live!After a short period of time, I soon realized that there was much more to them then meets the ears. It honestly looked like Rebel Wheel was having a blast!
The true leader of the band is David Campbell. I loved some of the Steve Howe
influences that he used in Tempra, but more on that stuff later! His approach to the guitar is wild! It was enthusiastic and intriguing to watch him jam.
Aaron Clark, the drummer of
the band and the guy I bought a shot of
t hat black ouzo for, was funny ... but he certainly is the back bone of the sound.
Gary Lauzon is the bass player of the band. He also had the best playing stance of anyone that played there that night ... he was sitting down in a chair the whole show. Ah, Leon Redbone, I get it! Don’t get me wrong, the man was re-inventing how the direction of bass playing maybe going towards! His technique with his hammer on’s where something to behold. Very neat way to play the bass!
Now last but not least, there is Angie MacIvor. Who wouldn’t want a player like her in your band. Her sax, voice and keys were nice touches everywhere she put them into a tune. Not over powering at times, but intense when you really needed it! She added that Shuffle Demons feel to them, that night, LOVED IT!!!
So I have to give the Rebel Wheel band a 2 thumbs up! Now, go and check out their site for dates in your area and see for yourself ... they are worth the drive.
Rebel Wheel, Keep on Jammin’
The Rebel Wheel - - Rainbow Bistro, Ottawa
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I was at the Rainbow tonight for the new "power trio" version of The Rebel Wheel. It was apparent immediately that this is a leaner, meaner, harder Rebel Wheel than the previous incarnation. The power trio arrangements were quite focused and many played even darker than the original CD versions (yay). At times I was reminded of the King Crimson power trio. The playing was top-notch by all three. There was some great spaces between the notes, excellent bass work and David's guitar tone was right on. OMG, Threads and Tempra kicked so much ass.
The next opportunity to see The Rebel Wheel will be in Toronto on Oct 22 at Clinton's, 693 Bloor Street.
Line up :
Aaron Clark: Drums
David Campbell: Guitars, Vocals Guy Dagenais: Bass, Vocals
No Free Ride
We Are In the Time of Evil Clocks
Hiding in Waiting
The Discovery of Witchcraft
The Rebel Wheel played last night in Wakefield's Kaffe 1870 and it was simply amazing. I had heard about these guys from various friends who had seen them at Progtoberfest and again at Rosfest. They told me the band was tight and hard-rocking live. I had heard their CD Diagramma and thought it was great, but it in no way prepared me for the sheer auaral punch they have as a live act.
The album has synthesizer textures galore. Last night they showed up as a three piece and there wasn't a keyboard in sight. Instead the band played material from their three past 10T albums and their brand new self-released one as a stripped down three piece unit and my god, did they tear the place apart.
David Campbell, the leader, is one of the area's finest guitarists. I thought he looked familiar and as the night wore on I realized he was the guitarist for The PepTides who had blown away the Black Sheep a few years ago when they did a concert with CBC's Stuart Maclean. At that show he was far more sedate, last night he tore up the frets with a burning virtuosity and some of the fastest licks I have ever heard. He is like a jazz player on acid (which according to some of the very amusing stories he told through-out the night is probably close to the truth), with long strung out jazz lines played with hi-gain distortion and saturated tone. He deftly lead the band through songs from Diagramma and Evil Clocks (their 10T two label releases) but the high-lights for me were the selections from their new CD Whore's Breakfast. Those songs were muscular and taut with a strong sense of jazz fusion (more jazz-rock) and dissonance. Even still they rocked with an intensity that was amazing.
The bassist Andrew Burns, is also a PepTide draftee and his low slung bass and rock god stance worked especially well against Campbell's almost frenetic pacing around. Virtuoso bass figures largely in their material and with his emminant musicianship he was equal to the task.
He worked especially well with drummer Alex Wickham who seemed unfazed by the procedings and all their odd-metered passages. He has chops in reserve and is certainly a player to watch around Ottawa.
The trio worked remarkably well together and were very well rehearsed. Campbell turned out to be a very engaging front man, introducing some of the Whore's Breakfast material with amusing stories of his past indiscretions. The theme of Whore's Breakfast is substance abuse and his stories were related to that but not in any way confessional nor sympathy seeking, rather they were amusing anecdotes of obsession and weakness. He mentioned he was straight for 13 years at one point, and indeed he looks healthy, energetic and lean. He could dress the part more though, as he seems like he had been farming before the show (work boots, jeans and a t-shirt) which stood in contrast to the other two, both of whom were younger and VERY fashionably dressed. It is a small point but I like when bands take their apperance as seriously as their music...and these guys are SERIOUS musicians.
The high-light of the night was the set ender, No Free Ride, which thundered along in a weird meter but was so intricate and tight, the small (very small) crowd erupted in applause several times through-out the song.
This is definitely one of Ottawa's best bands; one who sets the bar so high very few can reach it. It is a shame that players of this calibre aren't world-reknowned but thankfully for us, they still continue to play small bars as well as some of the larger venues internationally.
Nick Smith for Ottawa Live (10/10 amazing).