Theo Massop

Theo Massop Trio lets music do the talking

PORT HARDY - Nanaimo roots-rockers show deft touch with songwriting, performing in North Island Concert Society event.

PORT HARDY — Once you filter out the neon glare of superstars’ names on arena marquees and unplug the glossy marketing of hitmaking machinery, rock and roll comes down to the simple matter of making music.

And that’s just what the Theo Massop Trio delivered Saturday at Port Hardy Civic Centre in the fourth event on the North Island Concert Society’s 2010-11 schedule.

Massop, a Nanaimo-based singer-songwriter, was joined by longtime collaborator Blaise Zhiam on bass and Pat Hetu on drums in an intimate performance stripped of gimickry and hi-tech hijinx.

Massop’s music has been described as roots, rock, country, Americana, folk, blues and various admixtures of those wide-ranging genres.

When a group requires that many modifiers the best course of action is to show up with an open ear and toes ready for tapping. Those who did so Saturday were treated to a show of intricate yet accessible songcraft by performers comfortable in their musical skins.

At the heart of Massop’s songwriting is, well, heart. He pens songs of life experiences that can be as personal as the loss of a loved one, as on Massop’s spare, plaintive rendition of the ballad Goodbye, and as universal as the human condition, as on the up-tempo rocker Start a Revolution from his 2006 CD Choices.

Massop, who played electric-acoustic guitar and harmonica, has performed solo and in groups in venues ranging from pubs to festivals, and has a varied catalogue he tries to suit to each audience. In Saturday’s case, that meant heavy doses of original compositions with just a couple of cover tunes — a folk/country version of Bob Dylan’s Forever Young and an encore performance of Leonard Cohen’s Tower of Song that started as an alt-country tune and wrapped up as a blistering blues rocker.

While it seemed the audience at times was reservedly waiting to hear something familiar, a careful listen revealed hints of familiar artists, such as on the Neil Young-infused Canada 1952, Gordon Lightfoot’s influence on Hummingbird, the Tom Petty-esque rocker I Need Somebody and even the reggae stylings of Truth from Massop’s debut album Voyager, which contain darker, more brooding echoes of 10cc’s Dreadlock Holiday.

Massop’s low and occasionally growling vocals were offset by Zhiam’s high-register harmonies and occasional vocal input by Hetu, who stepped in front of the drum kit to take a turn on the South American Cajon drum on a pair of songs. Zhiam proved particularly capable of filling potential voids in the three-instrument lineup, applying his bass as a rhythm, percussion and even lead instrument with his high-note plucking opposite Massop’s harmonica work on the intro to the driving blues-rocker Not For Me.

Late in the show, Massop expressed his appreciation to the audience and Zhiam even pulled out a camera to take a picture of the roughly 150 patrons. For its part, the NICS crowd responded not with screaming, glowing lighters or head-banging, but with polite and earnest applause.

This was not a transcendent concert. But it was never about transcendence — it was about the music.

 

Just Posted

People’s Party of Canada plan to have a candidate in the North Island-Powell River riding

Elections Canada formally recognized the North Island—Powell River PPC Association

NVIATS takes over NIEFS space in Thunderbird Mall

“We were approached by NIEFS, they’re going to be downsizing”

Port Hardy Reigns compete in Nanaimo at Island Championships

“We are very fortunate to have this opportunity for our youth in Port Hardy”

Derina Harvey Band – Heartfelt, Energetic, Celtic rock comes to Port Hardy

Front-woman Derina Harvey leads this Celtic-rock act, who offer an authentic east-coast experience.

OPINION: Urgent care room will cost lives

“Seniors, of any demographic, are the most vulnerable to the loss of emergency care.”

What’s age got to do with it? B.C. couple with 45-year gap talks happy marriage

An Armstrong couple that has 45-year age gap began turning heads after being featured on show Extreme Love.

Should B.C. parents receive money if they make sure their kids are vaccinated?

New survey looks at public opinion around government’s role in forcing immunizations

Many teens unaware if they’re vaping nicotine or not

Health Canada survey finds many youth are unaware of the risks of using nicotine products

Defence accuses officer of ‘incompetence’ in trial for B.C. man accused in daughters’ murder

Double murder trial for the Victoria father accused of killing his two young daughters continues

‘Cutthroat’ sport of wine tasting happening in B.C.

BC Tasting Games are underway with competitions in three Okanagan communities.

Early data suggests no post-legalization spike in drug-impaired driving charges

Many police departments are prioritizing investigations related to drugs like fentanyl and methamphetamine

WATCH: South Vancouver Island shooting an ‘isolated and targeted’ incident, say police

One person in custody, another fled following shooting and crash on West Shore

Woe, Canada: Bruins down Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7

No Canadian teams left in Stanley Cup playoffs

B.C. men challenge constitutionality of Canada’s secret no-fly list

Parvkar Singh Dulai says he received a “denial of boarding” notification under the no-fly program last May 17

Most Read