Julie Doiron / Calvin Johnson West End Cultural Centre, Winnipeg MB June 27

"I am the appetiser for the sensual assault that is Julie,” commented indie luminary Calvin Johnson during his entertaining set. As the man behind Beat Happening and K Records, among numerous other projects, Johnson’s playfulness as a performer and his trademark rich baritone provided for comical and engaging moments. From slow blues and folk tunes to more pop-oriented material, he showed his wide musical skills, using only an acoustic guitar and his voice. Strolling across the stage and adding in the occasional exaggerated hand gesture or dance move, Johnson conveyed a keen stage presence. Near the end of his set, he called Doiron onto the stage for a wrenching duet before shifting gears into more upbeat material and concluding a compelling set. Backed only by drummer Dick Morello, formerly of Shotgun & Jaybird, Doiron opened her own performance with gentle guitar notes and hushed vocals on early songs before joking about the Roger Waters gig in town on the same night: "I hope you didn’t show up to the wrong venue.” At times, however, extended banter threatened to capsize the show’s momentum, ranging from rambling discussions of guitar tuners to the benefits of organic bedding. Doiron eventually got the evening back on track with a haunting version of "The Dark Horse” from her latest Woke Myself Up. Engaging renditions of "I Left Town” and "No More” followed, showing the stark beauty of Doiron’s songwriting talents. Later in the evening, Morello and Doiron switched spots, with Morello singing a couple of solid songs, before Doiron returned to the microphone to sing a poignant version of "Will You Still Love Me in December?” that closed out the laidback summer evening.