Philosopher Kings play outdoor gig at city hall



The Philosopher Kings play a free outdoor concert at Nathan Phillips Square this Friday night at 8 p.m. The show is part of Toronto’s WinterCity Festival.


Tomorrow night, swing by Nathan Phillips Square to help keep The Philosopher Kings warm.

They might need it. Forecasted temperatures are hovering around -9 C, and might even dip to 20 below for the Kings’ free outdoor concert at Nathan Phillips Square. The show’s part of Toronto’s WinterCity Festival — an attempt to keep the heart of the city beating during the cold winter months — and the Juno award-winning group kick off a series of live concerts at Toronto’s iconic centrepiece for skating, lights and shows.

But, as guitarist James Bryan explains, numbing hands and strings constantly falling out of tune are merely an inconvenience for a thrilling live show.

“We did a great show at Nathan Phillips Square years ago, playing on New Years,” he says. “You could see a sea of people — you just let the adrenaline build up and feed off the energy of the crowd and the band, and forget where you are.”

And, he adds as something he’s done there “millions of times” before, “There will be skating.”

As a group that’s toured the world and just wrapped up a coast-to-coast series of shows promoting 2006’s reunion release Castles, The Philosopher Kings have been repeatedly touted as Canada’s favourite live band. It’s a title Bryan calls flattering, but hard-earned.

“Before a tour, we’ll hit rehearsals very hard for a couple of weeks,” he says. “It’s like boot camp — get back in shape and come up with a good stage show. We’ve always — even from day one — put a lot of importance on the chemistry we have together as a band. That’s why we’re able to record live off the floor (in the studio,) which I hardly ever do with the other projects I’m recording.”

An arduous training session won’t be necessary for this show, Bryan says, having been “primed” from their latest Canadian tour. “This one is just like: It’s the middle of winter so let’s see how much fun we can have on the coldest day of the year,” he says. “It’s the first gig of the new year.”

At the same time, both fans and passersby might see something a little unexpected from lead singer Gerald Eaton, a.k.a. Jarvis Church — a moniker he lifted from the streets of Toronto.

“For this show in particular,” Bryan says, “I think Jarvis is working on some acrobatics or something.”

Is Bryan joking?

“You’re going to have to go there to find out.”