THE GAZETTE, Tuesday, Jan. 13,1981
Blue Peter showcases motivated talent
by Brendan Wycks
Blue Peter, that band from Toronto whose talent, if recognized, should promise a future of international renown, was in town last weekend for a three night stint at the Cedar Lounge. From the initial chord of the opening set Saturday night, the dance floor was overflowing.
Lead singer Paul Humphrey's natural aura of confident abandon won over people immediately; the usual routine of waiting for an inebriated introvert to break the ice was dispensed with on this occasion. Humphrey is both visually and vocally comparable to rock's brilliant chameleon, David Bowie. The beginning bars of 'Cloak and Dagger' saw Humphrey twisting, bending & gyrating and thrusting to the pulse of his musical support.
Collectively the band was incredibly tight. The sound was crystal clear and unmarred by any technical foul-ups. It was loud but not offensive.
Gear McOuat's bass work provides ample indication to the dancers as to what their next motion should be. But his clues are subtle and not insulting (they don't take the fun and spontaneity out of it) like the droning bass that Sister Disco insists on continuing to assert even as she dies a slow death. Mlke Bambrick's sense of timing in his drumming is at consistent and incessant as the clock on the wall or better yet a metronome.
Blue Peter seemed obligated to pay homage to their next to divine sources of inspiration. 'Let's Stick Together' (a slightly altered version of a George Harrison song) was their first encore number; it is from the Bryan Ferry album of the same title to which, incidentally, Chris Spedding contributed his axe services. Humphrey discarded his sparkly, sequinned jacket in order to be unencumbered during a rousing rendition of Spedding's own 'Stay Dumb' from his Hurt LP. Chris Wardman's mesmerizing lead would have made the English guitar demigod himself do a double lake.
It became evident early Paul Humphrey doesn't need studio aids to accomplish momentary vocal gymnastics. His gesticulations, ad libbing and generally positive approach to his art permeate the audience: he's inspired and attuned to the message the words, fused with the music, mean to convey.
Humphrey opened the second set by inviting patrons onto the dance floor with the added incentive of being filmed. A cameraman from a cable TV station had been filming the group earlier on and some impromptu footage was mandatory. There' was no need. however, to beckon for audience participation.
Shortly, the dancers were invading the sacred reserve of the sedentary spectators. Soon, during 'Take Me To War' specifically, it became obvious one had to acknowledge Chris Wardman is a writer of gifted pi-rock medium; he possesses an uncanny knack for the construction of crafty musical phraseology the sum of which is the inclusion of several potential underground pop-rock classics in Blue Peter's arsenal.
In fact, all the solos Wardman picked for posterity Saturday night on his Gibson Junior were of a much sweeter grade than those milked from the Fender Tele he used formerly. Blue Peter's repertoire is captivating enough; but one awaits in eager anticipation Wardman's every taking to the spotlight. His liberal use the entire neck of his axe seems almost second nature.
'All Quiet on the Western Front' is a new tunethat the group showcased. The deflating impression aroused was that here was mediocrity that had all been heard before. But. ah! A spirited staccato lead from Wardman redeems a lost cause.
In a cover of 'Hearbreak Hotel', more indebted to John Cale's version than Elvis's, Humphrey's eerie keyboard seeped thorugh Wardman's porous but compelling guitar tine. Wardman proved his familiarity with the proper (opportune) use of feedback. His tendency to use chromatic structures as fills and bridges between a chorus and ensuing verses tingles the ear and soothes the mind. 'Factory Living' opened with a free-form jam; Wardman's improvisation verifified that he's a soloist of singular ability.