As a kid of the 90s, the 80s and before then if I am being honest, I have always felt the urge to go back in time when it comes to music as this is closely tied to collective as well as personal memories. Although, I am always open to discovering new musical talent through my streaming platform of choice, Spotify, I am prone to revivals of music that I listened to in my teens and late teens because those are the ones that feel timeless and hold a special place in my heart.
With that in mind, I could not miss the soulful performance of The Philosopher Kings at the Mod Club in Toronto on December 20.
After a break of two decades, The Philosopher Kings returned with their new album Return of the King. The Toronto-based group captivated their long-time fans with its unique combination of funk and pop sound. In a recent interview for ET Canada, to the question “At what point are you on a break and at what point don’t you exist anymore?” Gerald Eaton, lead vocalist answered, “We will always be making albums.” It sounds like a promise!
I love their music as much as I am drawn to their moniker. The Philosopher Kings evokes the best form of government according to Plato’s Republic, one in which philosophers rule with wisdom and intelligence, and forge a society to their image. In times where some of the rulers of the world, score low in the knowledge of philosophy, not as in abstract academic discipline but as in its original sense, as a way of thinking about the world, mankind, nature, existence, and the ability to make connections among all of the above. The name is certainly a timely reminder that we need more of such enlightened rulers in the world.
Juno Award winner in 1996 for Best New Group, climbing the charts with the hit single Charms the same year, The Philosopher Kings became one of the most popular bands in the country and worldwide during the 90s until they took a break in 2006 to pursue individual music careers. Gerald Eaton continued to sing as a solo artist under the pen name of Jarvis Church, and collaborated with Nelly Furtado, Esthero, and K’naan. He and fellow band member Brian West are part of the duo Track & Field.
Return Of The Kings is a medley of their most memorable pop and alternative rock songs, including I Am the Man, Cry, Hurts to Love You, and Castles in the Sand as well as brand new material that holds the sign of a natural musical evolution towards new and current elements of pop music. Nevertheless, “It sounds like the Philosopher Kings.”
The performance included a cover from another very popular 90s band: Linger by the Cranberries. It was also a tribute to the vocalist of the group, Dolores O’Riordan, who died last January at the age of 46. The performance turned into a sing-along when the audience joined the chorus of ‘Do you have to let it linger’. The whole performance felt timeless. Maybe a song that is 20 years old is not that old yet, if it still sounds fresh and current. Or maybe it is the timeless power of good music that stands the storm of the years that go by.
As I reflect on the music experience of last night, I can’t help but wonder, how lucky my generation is to have had so many outstanding bands which made memorable so many stages of our life.