January 2006

Priya Thomas and the Blast of 7
Presented by Gary Topp
January 19, 2006Lula LoungeToronto
A Whole Other Enchantment
by Andy Frank with photos by Roger Humbert

My Priya Thomas experience begins Sunday in Montreal at a blistering cold Esso under the Champlain Bridge. A radio station interview promoting her January 19th Lula Lounge show is postponed, but her management insists I enjoy a fresh copy of her unreleased CD You and Me Against the World, Baby on my way back down the 401.

Being handed a package by a total stranger at a gas station adds to the anticipation of hearing the recording. My curiosity is piqued to an almost laughable level by this audacious message about The CD on a postcard from Christine Estima of CMW Live Preview: "...Each song is literally the best two or three minutes of your life."

Priya Thomas
Just what kind of dope am I being handed? I spin the disc three times by Kingston, and let the loud music and razor-sharp lyrics filter into my awakened but exhausted brain all the way home.

Thursday, Priya Thomas headlines a bill that features, among others, The Brown Hornets of Durham County, with their magnificently charismatic, fruit-pitching lead singer Danny Walters. It is not going to be easy for Priya to follow a blend of Gord Downie and Robert Downey, with vocal qualities that span from Jim to Van Morrison. The ‘Hornets have ‘em dancing and cheering to their original, but familiar music.

Moments later, a delicate, platinum Priya dressed in red leggings, a sequined black skirt and seductively perfect yellow t-shirt appears on the stage, and the next forty-eight minutes are literally some of the best of my life. She performs music peeled right off of her new CD, a disc whose sound is (successfully) designed to capture the manic intensity of Priya’s musical stage presence. Her vocals dazzle, with occasional satisfying tannins of Dolores O'Riordan and Madonna.

But no disc — not even a DVD — can ever capture the bright, divine energy that she manifests in performance. Observing Priya Thomas writhing about the stage, staring and screaming harmoniously (and perfectly) into the stage monitors, ranting toward the lights, militarily marching across the platform with arms constantly in motion is mesmerizing. A guitar strapped around her frame contains her to an extent, but then a whole other enchantment happens; focused light streams out of her like a laser, and if she happens to catch your eye with one of her brown beams, you risk being fried on the spot.

Lyrically, the articulate, trilingual daughter of a physicist/Orthodox minister offers rich contributions toward discussions of environment, drugs, love, apathy, America, and existentialism.

I conclude that I am having my Time Magazine and Bruce Springsteen moment about the future of Rock n’ Roll. But questions remain. It’s been a decade since Brit band James first revealed a sixteen-year-old phenom to 3,000 seat theatres across North America. Four CDs and many tours later, Priya Thomas seems to still be fighting to find an audience in Toronto. Her new CD will go a long way to exposing her to new listeners, and like with any other truly original artist, sometimes an audience needs to be primed before it can accept genius.

That’s what happened to me on the way to Kingston, and I have no doubt that it will soon happen to thousands more like me.

Priya Thomas and the Blast of 7

Priya Thomas | vocals/guitar
Tod Cutler | guitar
Royal Nasager | bass/vocals
Rob Greenway | drums/vocals
Lindsay Fitzsimmons | back-up vocals


We welcome your comments and feedback
• • • • • •
Andy Frank
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Roger Humbert
The Live Music Report

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