Joni Gives Royal Nod To Blue Peter

Jonathan Gross - The Toronto Sun

Joni Mitchell didn't say whether she had popped into the Head Space Saturday night just to put a little money on the Maple Leafs, but her presence lent the warm buzz of celebrity to Blue Peter's album release party.

"No pictures please. I'm trying to keep a low profile," pleaded Mitchell, in town taking advantage of her citizenship to act in a feature film. "I like the band, though!"

Unsolicited endorsements aside, Blue Peter has become a formidable dance band that has matured steadily since their humble beginning two years ago as openers for lame outfits like The Battered Newsmen. Talk about paying your dues!

Like most young rockers singer Paul Humphrey started out borrowing heavily from a favorite for style. In his case it was David Bowie, and Humphrey played the 'thin white youth' role for all it was worth, working on a clever visual contrast of genteel poise against the primitive backdrop of a a semi-competent three chord cover band.

And like most young rockers who have the guts to stick it out, the band learned how to play, wrote a few good party tunes, and as Humphrey's confidence grew, he added personal traits that partially clouded his Bowie illusion.

Clad in an old black tuxedo and two tone walker Saturday, Humphrey moved like an extra in High Society tangoing about, while guitarist Chris Wardman, bassist Geoff McOuat and drummer Mike Bambrick bashed out tight, raucous rhythms. Yet his voice remained cool, calm, and disaffected under the pressure, breaking nicely in high end, it did during a carbon copy of Lou Reed's Sweet Jane, a crowd favorite.

The original material is catchy if sometimes repetitive, sometimes trimmed by Humphrey's one-finger synthesizer work. Those modest adventures bode well for the future, but for the time being, Blue Peter is smart to realize that the best crowd is a dancing crowd.