The Vaselines Lee's Palace, Toronto ON May 15
Published May 20, 2009After nearly 20 years of inactivity, Glaswegian indie darlings the Vaselines resurfaced with a new career-spanning compilation and their first proper North American tour. Though only seven dates, Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee landed in Toronto obviously without expectations of meeting such a fervent reaction. But the crowd appeared very emotional upon witnessing the duo with their backing band. Constant applause and cheers, even for new material, which McKee said was a first, proved that most people had been waiting ages for this moment. Just now getting the credit they deserve in their second life, the Vaselines, though short on presence, provided ample banter to keep everyone appeased.
Especially McKee, who promoted their merch by admitting they "impregnated the T-shirts with body odour" and constantly kidded using R-rated sexual connotations — one involving Kelly's multiple orifices. But they also had songs, yeah, those beautifully simple pop songs that Kurt Cobain and everyone in attendance have fallen in love with. Opening with "Son of A Gun," they ploughed through their set dropping should-be classics with more proficiency than their decades-old recordings suggest. And some of them were deafeningly loud; "Dying For It" and "Oliver Twisted" shattered any sort of decibel allowance bylaw. But "Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam" was as gentle as you'd expect, evoking the biggest response all night both through the constant hoorays and moving bodies.
Kelly teased the "love song" as Bette Midler's "The Rose," and then launched into the adorable "Slushy" — though it would have been nice to hear what they could do with either Bette or Mudhoney's version of the schmaltz classic. They pushed "You Think You're A Man" to its near-six-minute length, and it sure felt like it, as the night was wrapping up. But as they bid farewell with garage stomper "Dum-Dum," Cobain's love for the Vaselines made more sense than ever before and no one person left without understanding why he chose the name Frances for his daughter.