The Pursuit Of Happiness Lee's Palace, Toronto ON - December 29, 2005

There was a brief shining moment back in the late '80s when it looked like an unassuming and proudly geeky Edmonton songwriter named Moe Berg was poised to turn Can-rock on its head. His band, the Pursuit of Happiness, had scored a massive indie hit with what remains their best-known (although certainly not their best) song, "I'm an Adult Now." At the time, Canada was represented by the likes of Honeymoon Suite and any number of other hair rock bands. But TPOH were different; their witty lyrics, creative use of female backing vocals and anti-image added up to an organic sound that revealed true musical talent. Then the industry got a hold of them and developed expectations they never quite met despite making some great music. Fast forward almost 20 years and the band that got its start in the bars of Toronto came full circle with this one-off gig intended to promote a "greatest hits" package. Featuring mainstays Berg and drummer Dave Gilby, guitarist/vocalist Kris Abbott and bassist Brad Barker (who joined at various points after their initial indie breakthrough) and vocalist Renee Suchy, this version of TPOH was no less impressive than any in the past (and I've seen a few). After all, the band is really Berg's vehicle and he guides it with the precision of a Greyhound driver on an icy Rocky Mountain pass, only heavy on the rock part. The once shy, awkward front-man was relaxed and comfortable as he engaged the audience with witty banter and reminisced about early shows at the venue. The set list was predictably, if not smartly, heavy on the hits included on the disc they were promoting, with the songs form 1988's Love Junk sounding as fresh as they did 17 years ago. Performance-wise, the band was tight as a drum but whether that's because they were just stoked to be playing the material again and had time to rehearse it or if was just natural chemistry was unclear. Whatever the reason, the show worked and there's little doubt that anyone who went in hoping to recapture a bit of their youth and see a good, high energy, entertaining rock show left feeling fulfilled.