Horsey Craze / The Highest Order / Cut Flowers Silver Dollar, Toronto ON, May 24

Horsey Craze / The Highest Order / Cut Flowers Silver Dollar, Toronto ON, May 24
Photo: Atsuko Kobasigawa
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"Check out our Myspace page," quipped Bry Webb before Horsey Craze, a collection of ex-Constantines, throttled through a rousing version of "Fuckin' Up." The whole evening certainly harkened back to a different time, when friends would perform the songs that originally inspired them with a communal approach. At the Silver Dollar, it was guitarist/vocalist Bry Webb, bassist Dallas Wehrle and Will Kidman, trading his keyboard for a guitar, who joined each other onstage for the first time in over two years to pay homage to Neil Young and Crazy Horse. Filled out with John Pinnington on drums, there were flashes of the graceful punk that established Constantines as one of Canada's most treasured (and subsequently, most missed) acts. Yet for the most part, it was an opportunity for the musicians to shed any preconceived notions and essentially, invite a few hundred friends into their smoky practice space.

Kidman did justice to Young's ragged solos throughout the night, most notably on an ecstatic "Powderfinger." That was about as radio-friendly as their set got, as they instead swayed towards playing deeper cuts from Crazy Horse's repertoire. "Walk Like A Giant" stretched for a good ten minutes, with each member trading off the whistling in perfect harmony.

Finding their swing midway through the set, the relaxed joy the band felt was palpable. Not much has been said in public about the demise of Constantines, though there were enough smiles being thrown back and forth that many likely wondering what could have even torn them apart.

"This has been a lot of fun. I don't get out of the house much in Guelph," said Webb later in the evening. Webb seems to have slipped comfortably into the wistful elder statesman role, but he hasn't lost any of his stomp or chops. He welcomed Andre Ethier, whose swaggering Cut Flowers opened the night and Paul Mortimer of the Highest Order onstage for a bluesy "On The Beach."

Mortimer and the Highest Order warmed up the skinny-jeaned and big-booted crowd with a loose, uncompromising set. Lead singer Simone Schmidt has established herself as a true performer, able to captivate with a surprisingly engaging stage persona and haunting pipes. She added a boozy touch to "Winterlong" during the encore. The band seemed ready to call it a night, but the esteemed crowd had other ideas.

Horsey Craze didn't oblige the pesky fan who kept calling for "Rockin' In the Free World," instead opting for a stretching "Cortez the Killer," which left us all stunned and sad that the whole thing had to come to an end. A round of hugs finishes the set, but there's a feeling that's echoed by more than a few audience members as they file down the stairs: we saw glimpses of Constantines in their glory, but we still miss them terribly.

For more photos from this show, flip through our Facebook gallery here.