Spirit Of The West Perform In Vancouver Without Geoff Kelly

Spirit of The West
SOTW's John Mann
photos by Andew Chin

Spirit Of The West
Commodore Ballroom
Vancouver, BC
March 17, 2012

I don’t think there was a disappointed soul at the recent Spirit of The West concert at the Commodore Ballroom this weekend, despite the band not having founding member Geoffrey Kelly there with them. Kelly was “home for a rest” after he became seriously ill in January 2012 and required major emergency surgery. Kelly is feeling better, but was unable to perform at both this and a Winnipeg show this week. SOTW was joined by guest performers Matthew Harder (House of Doc) and Kendel Carson(Paperboys) to help fill the void.

To Spirit of the West, any St. Patrick’s Day concert is a grand tradition, especially when it’s in Vancouver – so even without Kelly, the show had to go on. And the band, with its special guests, did as good as they could, without Kelly's important flutes and whistles. It was an odd sight without Kelly and the sound wasn't quite the same (which made the occasional miss-step a bit more obvious), but when any band performs without one of its core members, things always sound a bit different.
Kendel Carson is a wonderful fiddler and singer who you may know from the Paperboys or as one of the trio Belle Star.  She wore a slick green jacket in honour of the Irish celebration. Harder, on the other hand, is a seasoned professional with a remarkable ear for music. The combination of SOTW with Harder and Carson is something worth investing your ears in and when Kelly returns to the fold, it would be great to see them continue with the band.
For the most part the crowd bopped and hopped to the band’s catchy tunes, but it was obvious that Kelly’s flute and whistles were missing in action. It was most notably absent in the band’s trademark tune Home For A Rest, which despite everyone’s best efforts, sounded more like a SOTW cover band then it did the real deal.
The band plowed through their standards, performing such concert staples as "D" for Democracy, Canadian Skye, Unplugged, Sadness Grows, And If Venice is Sinking. The Old Sod and Doin' Quite Alright were obviously missing Kelly’s vocals, but sounded admirable. 
Watching Spirit of The West is a thrill at any time, and tonight – despite a missing spirit – it was still a St. Patrick’s Day joyride.
Spirit of the West
Kendel Carson and John Mann
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