By Graeme Wiggins
June 12, 2014
VANCOUVER — Sage Francis was back in Vancouver with a stripped-down tour in support of Copper Gone, his new album that brings him back to his rap roots and has garnered some notable Billboard buzz.
Local rap group Friends With the Help opened with lighthearted set full of Vancouver references, weed influence, and a joie de vivre that made them hard to not like. Sage Francis protégé B. Dolan moved things to a more hard-edged, old school rap vibe. Entering the stage clad in an American flag-printed balaclava, he was an imposing presence. Performing mostly new material from House of Bees Vol. 2, he punctuated his with a more straight-up rap version of his “Joan of Arc” (off The Failure) and a complex spoken word piece about Rick Ross.
Sage Francis got off to a fuller throwback rap angle than he did on his last visit (when he performed with a full live band supporting Li(f)e). He played a populist mix of songs that captured the bulk of his career. Highlights of older material included the one-two political combo of “Slow Down Ghandi” and “Makeshift Patriot,” a captivating version of “Crack Pipes,” and a crowd participatory version of “Sea Lions.” His penetrating gaze and command of the stage made his performances of the slower melancholic songs off the new record a compelling watch.
Sage Francis closed out the set with B. Dolan by performing a floor-filling version of “Damage” mashed up with MOP classic “Ante Up” that got the crowd moving more than they had been all night. The encore, “Jah Didn’t Kill Johnny” and “Best of Times,” ended things on a mellow but warmer feeling.B. Dolan, BC, British Columbia, Fortune Sound Club, Friends With the Help, Sage Francis