Shad knocked it out of the park and was received with a hometown hero welcome at The Great Hall.
He may have grown up in London, ON but Shad’s a close neighbour of Toronto; and the crowd treat him like a returning son. As the show opens, Shad asks for a favour; it’s his “wise and talented wife’s birthday” this Friday night and he’d like us to wish her a happy birthday. This sets the tone for Shad’s big friendly, inclusive show.
Lead single Get it Got it Good from new album A Short Story About a War receives a welcome cheer from the crowd like it’s an old classic. As Shad introduces his new album, he’s quick to let us know that it won’t be all new stuff tonight: he’s “not a dick” – garnering an appreciative chuckle. Compromise has the crowd literally bouncing, and Rose Garden is practically a huge sing along. Magic gets a special intro; describing it as a metaphor for evil and recognising legendary Canadian collaborators and fellow Polaris Prize alumni Lido Pimienta and A Tribe Called Red. The bass vibrates through my chest. The camaraderie of the crowd has been amplified by Shad’s talents in verse as well as his friendly openness – he’s the perfect host.
The great hall is a wonderful venue; surrounded by spacious balconies even on a sold out night. Shad has boundless energy – bouncing and jumping around the small stage at a relentless pace for a solid hour. He hardly pauses; charging through tracks old and new. Wanting to, in his words; keep the party going. Shad’s flow is spellbinding – particularly when he goes A capella; it feels like freestyle, and all you can do is stand and listen open-mouthed to the skills on display. You feel like you’ve gone back in time as his rhymes take you on an inspiring socio-political journey. Less than half the set features material from the new album, but the album doesn’t suffer being released from it’s concept moorings – the commentary on war still hits acutely.
Shad finishes with a track debuted at Strombo’s house; a reworked version of De La Soul’s Stakes is High…which leaves the crowd on a high of their own.