The Undesirables
Concert review: September 4, 2003 @ Hugh’s Room, Toronto
By: Rachel Jagt

Sean Cotton and Corin Raymond are The Undesirables. Together, they have the most riveting stage presence I’ve seen in a long time. Their live show is a perfect blend of Cotton’s skilled guitar work, Raymond’s unusually musical movement, and the tight vocal harmonies they share. Together and on their own, they have been around and writing songs for years. They formed the band 10 years ago and have recently come back together after a two-year break. I for one am ecstatic that they did. I was relatively new to their sound, having seen and heard only a short set of theirs prior to this show. What I was presented with, after local singer songwriter Scott B. Sympathy’s short but satisfying opening set, were energy and passion and really original songwriting. It was a joy to experience, from beginning to end. With songs that ranged in style from blues/funk to folk to pop and beyond, The Undesirables presented something original and oh so sweet.

What struck me most about vocalist Corin Raymond is that he moves like music, as if he’s plugged in to the guitar and the harmonies and feels every note from head to toe. His expressive voice soared through songs like “Summer’s Gone,” “Fill Me Up With Sound,” “Where Else Can You Go?” and “Up Above the Clouds It’s a Sunny Day.” “The Butcher Song” revealed, with a quirky sense of humour, what happens when songwriters have day jobs. A standout in this set was “Travelling Show,” a metaphorical portrait of the weather as a vagabond and a wanderer. “Live With You” and “The Dog You Forgot to Let In” told tales of new love and love a year later. On “Singing Bones,” they put a northern Ontario spin on an old folk tale.

Cotton and Raymond were joined on stage by Joe Phillips and his double bass for the second set, adding fullness to the sound on “Round Trip Love Song,” the bluesy cautionary tale “Night Train,” “Asking Me to Give You the Blues,” and two of my favourites, “Overwhelmed” and “Dancing on the Faultline.” Raymond entertained with stories throughout, including one about the night they were kicked out of two different establishments, memorialized in “Bars and Billiard Rooms.”

When the enthusiastic crowd demanded an encore, they obliged with “California Wine,” inspired by the Rolling Stones’ “Sweet Virginia”; Leon Russell’s “Out in the Woods,” and “Thursday and Friday and Saturday Night,” bringing a triumphant end to a triumphant night of music. I left after the show with all kinds of lyrics swimming around in my head, a smile on my face, and one question on my mind: “When’s the next show?”