Concert Review: Sunparlour Players, August 14, Theatre Centre

Sunparlour Players Photo

I realized the other day that while I’ve talked about the Sunparlour Players a lot, I’ve only written about a show of theirs once on this blog. Ricky reviewed their show at Pop Montreal a while back and I wrote about them as part of my Hillside Festival coverage, but that only had a couple of brief mentions. I’ve written reviews of a couple of plays lead singer/guitarist/banjoist Andrew Penner’s been a part of, The Book of Judith and Reesor, I’ve mentioned them in podcasts, I’ve written comments about them on other posts…but no full-on show review.

But at the same time…I really don’t know what I can say about these guys I haven’t said before. So I guess I’ll say this: Sunparlour Players are fantastic, and if you haven’t seen them play live you’re doing yourself a disservice. Especially if you live in Toronto, because that’s where they’re from too and they play around here a lot.

And their new album, Wave North, which came out in May and I picked up last month, is great, with at least as many really well-done songs as their first one, Hymns for the Happy.

And their live cover of AC/DC’s Thunderstruck must be seen to be believed.

The August 14 show at Theatre Centre, part of the SummerWorks music series, made it the fourth time in 14 months my partner and I had seen Andrew, bassist/keyboardist/clarinetist Dennis Van Dine and drummer/glockenspielist/accordionist Michael Rosenthal play, and they were every bit as spellbinding as the first time.

Featuring the same three kick drums as they did the first time I saw them in Calgary those many months ago, but a bit worse for wear, SPP came out and beat on all three of them as they started the show with “O’Captain” off Wave North. While they didn’t play the wonderful title track from Hymns for the Happy (though they did tease it at one point, singing the opening lines, then launching into another tune) or “Bless This City,” a great track they contributed to the soundtrack for This Beautiful City, they played very nearly everything else during a hot, sweaty set at the sweltering Theatre Centre.

A particular highlight was when, during “Talk It To Death,” the top screw of Andrew’s mike stand came loose, flipping the mike sideways, then upside down, then straight up in the air as he tried to butt it back into place. Instead of taking a break from the song at it’s rowdy “La-la-la-la, La-la-LALALALALOLO” chorus, Andrew instead cortorted himself in different ways while playing guitar to keep it going. He broke at least five guitar strings, he and Michael sweated buckets, and at one point the three of them were playing five instruments at once.

As good as their two albums are, this is a band that’s meant to be seen live. Go see them if you ever have the chance, you’ll be glad you did.

Posted on by Brian in Concerts