Them three boys sure make a lot of dark, progressive-rock noise.
That was my sophomoric takeaway after spending the last Monday in March watching The Tea Party perform at Kelowna Community Theatre. The Tea Party (TTP), comprised of Jeff Martin, (lead vocals and guitar), Stuart Chatwood (bass guitar and keyboard), and Jeff Burrows (percussion), are a long-standing Canadian rock band with blues, Celtic, and Middle Eastern influences sprinkled in. Some in the media have dubbed their sound as “Moroccan roll.”
The Tea Party’s current 28-city swing is an anniversary celebration entitled the “20 Years of Transmission Tour.” In 1997, the enigmatic trio released their most-successful album called Transmission. For this innovative chart-topper, they added electronic instruments to their beats which resulted in a distinctive industrial edge.
Transmission achieved tremendous success by earning double-platinum status in Canada, reaching #3 on the Canadian music charts, and receiving a Juno nomination for “Blockbuster Rock Album of the Year.” Being such a clutch performer for them, it’s no wonder why TTP is on the road dusting off their old Transmission and blowing out their greatest hits.
To me, TTP’s music was loud, dark, and borderline ominous. After arriving on stage 30 minutes late to start the first set, their first screamer was Army Ants. Whoa. Army ants are nature’s foraging hordes that kill and eat anything in their way. What a pleasant visual. Martin’s vocals were equally as foraging and relentless as he attacked the lyrics.
The rest of the long set included favorites such as Babylon, Psychopomp, Gyroscope, Emerald, Alarum, and Release. How dark were these shady singles? Some of the words/phrases that I could understand were: salvation, redemption, pleasure of pain, nothing’s for real, black magic, sea of rage, and lost all control. That’s a lot of aggression and angst wrapped up in a lead singer whose stage presence reminded me a lot of a combo Eddie Vedder and Jim Morrison. That’s a compliment.
When Transmission and Temptation were played to rousing ovations from the almost-sold-out crowd, you could definitely hear the Middle Eastern inspiration. I almost expected belly dancers to appear and shake things up.
Because wife Elaine and I had early-morning appointments, we ducked out at intermission. Lame, I know. What revelations did we miss in the second set? According to the playlist provided by the production manager, TTP blasted through Writings, Bazaar, Ocean, Heaven Coming Down, and Save Me. Sister Awake was the only encore listed. Someone write me if there were more.
Big Finish – amongst all the darkness, Martin did shine a bright light on TTP’s involvement with The White Ribbon Campaign. WRC is a global movement of men and boys working to end male violence against women and girls. Maybe they could write a song about this uplifting global message on Transmission 2?