This is the very first Coney Hatch album I have purchased. DeKe over at Thunder Bay Arena Rock got me hooked on them after he posted a few writeups. I gave their debut a stream, then their next two albums… before I knew it I was already into Andy Curran’s solo work. It was all good. Coney Hatch is a strong 4/4 rock band. No ballads, no heavy metal BS*. They are like Foreigner but with a beefy AC/DC edge. This might be Canada’s most underrated band.
My plan was to hit up some record stores early this year to hunt for their albums but Covid restrictions refused to be lifted before The Hatch released this live album. Limited to 300 copies, EXCLUSIVE to vinyl (at least for now), signed by all of the band members, AND a free Coney Hatch “Can Cooler”! Ah, what the heck? So, I bought it. Zero regrets.
The packaging for the double album has a strong bootleg vibe as the labels are blank and the insert is a piece of paper. This was probably done out of necessity to cut costs, but with it coming directly from the band, it is as if they put together a little homemade project just for me. It oozes charm.
The setlist of 15 tracks is a solid mix of the band’s singles and deeper album tracks. Right from the start, they let you know how they will be hitting tunes from all four of their studio albums. The big hits such as Hey Operator, She’s Gone, and, of course, Monkey Bars are here and supported by some choice album tracks, like the growl of We Got The Night to open the show, and the driving rock of Fallen Angel.
If I was to get picky… and I’m a critic, so I naturally will be picky, I might have swapped Boy’s Club with one of their underrated singles such as Fantasy or Girl From Last Night’s Dream, but this is a perfect set otherwise.
Way more important to me than the setlist is how the band performed, and they were excellent. The sound these four guys were pulling from their gear is what rock is all about. The current band is practically the “classic line-up” with Andy Curran, Carl Dixon, and Dave “Thumper” Ketchum here. Veteran axe-slinger Sean Kelly steps in for lead guitar work and his style is an ideal fit. The tone they struck for the penultimate song, Marseilles gave me the strongest AC/DC energy I have heard from any Canadian band. Give it a listen:
Coney Hatch Live At the El Mocambo is hands down my favourite (and most played) live recording from 2021. Not only was the band truly rockin’ that night, but this is the most personable rock concert I have ever heard. Recorded in the pre-Covid era of 2019, Toronto’s El Mocambo holds just under 500 people, so the setting is already ideal for a fairly intimate show. While the tunes rock hard, the banter between songs gave the entire album this chill vibe that made a strong connection with me, like I was hanging with friends with the stereo turned up loud.
PS: I was able to score two more Coney Hatch albums during the glory days of the pandemic when only two doses of the vaccine were enough to give you maximum protection. Reviews are incoming… eventually!
*Thanks, Uncle Meat