Dancing with the Jesters – Harlequin

Harlequin has been a rock radio mainstay with a string of hits that play in near continual rotation since they arrived on the scene in 1979. And so, tonight’s show brought out those hits, including “Thinking of You”, “I Did it for Love”, and “Superstitious Feeling”. The crowd responded with great gusto to the hits, but were lukewarm to new tracks from “Waking the Jester”.

Belanger, as the grand jester, gathers his band mates near as they play, tapping guitar necks, banging cymbals, and holding shoulders in an effort to unify them physically. He is the catalyst, the focal point of the band. Belanger isn’t large, but he performs like a giant, gesturing and singing with his whole body; like Paul Bunyan wielding his axe in a forest of redwoods.

Deerfoot Casino, Calgary | November 3, 2012
Photography by: Charles Hope

At one point, drummer AJ Chabidon developed a nose bleed near the end of a song only to return and play the next song with a bloody towel, which was quickly brought to his nose whenever a hand had a free moment. When the song ended, Belanger began to speculate on the reason for the blood but never completed his thought. Suffice it to say it has been very dry in these parts for the past weeks.

Original guitarist Glen Willows stood in this night and one would have though he should have attracted more attention from the fans, but it was Belanger who was the guiding force. His voice is showing the fate of long, long years on the road, but he has adjusted, allowing it to be what it is and not force it to recapture what it once was. Though some of his between song banter bordered on the juvenile, he was working hard to connect with the audience and keep them engaged. Nik Rivers and Darren Moore played hard and helped keep the songs grounded and strong.

As with most of the hits, “Innocence” held new weight since Belanger’s voice has lost the pop timbre only to have been replaced with a sound weathered and wise. Where the original recording held a narrative thread of naïveté, the sound tonight was full of knowledge and lost expectations.

Harlequin played their hearts out and when they played the hits, they really connected; it’s just too bad that the audience wasn’t more receptive to the lesser known pieces.

Related posts