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The Tea Party and I Mother Earth prove Big Shiny 90's are alive and well at TCU Place (Nov. 10/2023)

by Scott Roos

photos by Deanna Roos/Contingent Colours Photography

Singer Edwin encouraged the crowd to rise to their feet during the I Mother Earth set. Many came to the front turning the soft seater TCU Place into something that resembled a small club party rock atmosphere. (photo by Deanna Roos)

It was a 90’s CanRock dream double billing this past Friday, November 10th when I Mother Earth and The Tea Party played at Saskatoon’s TCU Place. Fans were treated to the stunning musicality of I Mother Earth and the mystical, charismatic allure of The Tea Party.

Taking the stage first for a 75 minute set was I Mother Earth. With their Latin inspired, jam band grooves, the band was in top form on this night. With guitarist Jag Tanna's talent on full display, the IME crew opened with the instrumental “Fuego De Madre” which transitioned seamlessly into “Pisser”. With drummer Christian Tanna at the helm of a fully stocked percussion section, the crew wore their love of Santana on their sleeves. Newly minted bass player Rico Browne filled things out in that all too crucial low end of the spectrum and did an admirable job.

“We're huge fans of Santana. I think it just starts there,” drummer Christian Tanna told NSMZ in an interview in the days leading up to the show, “As kids growing up Santana was always being played in the house and it was just something that we kinda had an affinity for and I have no idea of when we, in our later years formed a rock band, why that stuff started coming out."

I Mother Earth drummer Christian Tanna did an admirable job steering the ship of a fully stocked percussion section (photo by Deanna Roos)

Christian credits former percussionist Armando Borg, who passed away this past August, as having shown them the way when it comes to the grooves that have so effortlessly worked their way into the bands sonic appeal these past 30 years.

“(Armando) taught us a lot - all the rhythms and how they fit together. So all the Santana stuff started making sense to us and then you branch out into listening to other latin artists and all that. But it really kinda started there. That's where we got our jammin' vibes from for lack of a better word. Go watch Santana in concert. Those guys just play and play and it's amazing. So now it's just part of the way we think when writing.”

Of course, I Mother Earth isn’t just about the Santana-esque, free wheeling, Haight-Ashbury vibes. There’s also the undeniable influence of bread and butter 90's grunge that creeps its way in. For their performance in Saskatoon, classic alt-rock anthems “Another Sunday”, “Raspberry”, "Used To Be Alright" “Rain Will Fall” and of course, smash hit “One More Astronaut” played prominent roles in the band’s set and the crowd, for their part, lapped up every second of it. Of note was also the band adding “Not Quite Sonic” to the setlist for the first time this tour. All in all, I Mother Earth, with singer Edwin out front, were on point making a powerful statement that they can, in fact, still put on a first rate show. They have also been working in the studio and hope to release new music at some point in 2024 which is very exciting for their rabid and loyal fanbase.

“We were hoping (new music) would be out and released before this tour but it just didn't work out that way. So there was a point where we just kinda had to stop and switch gears into live mode. So basically we're gonna finish this tour, kind of recuperate and get back to finishing it off,” Christian Tanna told NSMZ.

Following the raucous set by I Mother Earth, The Tea Party took the stage. Fronted by nefarious ringmaster Jeff Martin, the trio opened with “The River” , a song off their 1993 album Splendor Solace. The group fully leaned into their mystical eastern vibes for the majority of their set. Bassist/keyboardist Stuart Chatwood and drummer Jeff Burrows aptly supported Martin. They proved to be a tight trio to be sure, without losing their collective sense of musical spontaneity.

Between songs, Martin pontificated and postulated about the legacy of The Tea Party among other things. He was equal parts humorous and mysterious, much to the delight of the crowd. Martin’s Morrison inspired baritone was captivating as ever, his iconic guitar chops stunning, which made for an inspiring show that was borderline evil AF. Songs “The Bazaar”, “Save Me”, “Temptation” and “Sister Awake” were standouts but, realistically, the whole set is worth highlighting. It was that damn good. Martin's charisma makes him a legit rockstar. That's a fact.

While, in its entirety, the show was for many hardcore fans in the audience, a walk down memory lane, for the casual fans, both groups had a lot to offer. Dare it be said, sonically, this show was the pinnacle of entertainment and one not to be missed. Hopefully, at the conclusion of this tour, both acts will consider doing this together again.

Martin took a seat on the drum riser to pic his twelve string to the sweet Zeppeliny tones of "Winter Solstice"

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