by Bob Remington, Edmonton Journal, August 13, 1995
After hitting the big time you'd think Moe Berg would have developed a bit of a rock'n'roll ego by now. Isn't that what rock singers are supposed to do? Swagger? Throw tantrums? Demand a favourite beverage moments before going on stage?
Not so for the St. Albert native and lead singer for The Pursuit of Happiness. At the start of his 45- minute solo concert at the Edmonton Folk Festival Saturday, there was Berg professing to be ultra- nervous and making apologies for what was to come.
"How many of you heard Elvis Costello the other night? Well, you won't be hearing any singing like that."
The great thing about the gentle, self-depreciating Berg, other than those clever, funny lyrics, is that he continues to be so darn nice. How can you not like a guy who begins a rare acoustic set by saying "This isn't my usual thing" and then proceeds to charm his audience as if he's been doing the quiet thing for years?
Berg drew a substantial crowd to stage Five at the folk fest site Saturday afternoon for the Moe Berg Unplugged session featuring the TPOH singer, his guitar and little else. Finally, here was a chance for Berg to live up to what he professed in his signature song I'm An Adult Now, when he lamented that he can't take too much loud music anymore with "some guy in a black leather jacket screaming, screaming."
Berg opened his set with Gretzky Rocks, a tune from the latest TPOH album Where's the Bone? In it, Berg professes divided loyalties ("Actually, I like the Hawks, but boy oh boy Wayne Gretzky rocks"). Personally, I think we should adopt it as the City of Edmonton theme song for the lyric: "When I lived in Edmonton, he made us the City of Champions. With Jari and Semenko by his side, he filled our frigid city with pride. Then he moved out to LA to help bring hockey to the USA. Everyone hated Peter and Janet for trading the best player on the planet."
Failing that, maybe we could just name a street after him. Edmonton doesn't have enough named streets, and I think Moe Berg Way would be really cool.
Berg songs are whimsical, touching, clever. In Pressing Lips, he sings "I knew a dancer once, she kissed all right I guess." And what ex-geek (admit it, you were one once) can't identify with "I don't want to go back to the way the world treated me. boys used to pick on me, call me names. Girls used to shun me."
And then there's The Vodka song, extolling the wonders of Absolut:
"The pleasure of a vodka-soggy brain cannot be overstated. It makes lovers and confidants of people you previously hated."
As one passerby commented during Berg's set: "This guy has strong lyrics."
Copyright © 1995 Edmonton Journal