Concert review: Fanfarlo with Robert Francis and Lawrence Arabia, April 2 2010, Lee’s Palace

Toronto – I’ll preface this by saying that I’ve probably seen Fanfarlo once too many in the past five weeks (twice at Galaxy room, once outside of Hilton hotel in Austin, one other time that I don’t recall where, and now at Lee’s). I can’t help it. What I also can’t help, is noticing how much of an on-stage ego Robert Francis had. He can shout and Junebug is an OK song, I’ll admit to that. But I’ll skip the details and just say that even though the set was not terrible (other than uninspired love songs), his re-enacting a rock-star dream made the show a complete hoot. From having a bouquet of flowers around his mic, to sitting at the front of the stage pining, to fully head-bang through chorus, his persona was as inconsistent as it was annoying superficial. As Mitch Hedberg told us: man, you need to, like, just be yourself. So. Thumbs down.

Robert Francis:

I did listen to Lawrence Arabia, just before going to the show. I was half expecting turban’ed men. But the New Zealanders looked more like Bishop Allen than Beatles – which is what they sounded like on myspace. They had a very energetic show, a frontman with a slightly British/dry humor. (“We’re glad to be in Canada… and there’s really nothing else to say about that.”) Their songs were also hilarious to decipher. One said: “they love each other, they hate each other, they’re afraid of each other, because they want to screw each other.” I was chuckling aloud when I heard that – it’s as if Flight of the Concorde was playing. They sounded much more like a regular rock band live than on the recordings, with equal portion of catchy harmony and drifting ambiance. But there’s also a sheepboy country song mixed in for good balance. Good tunes: Apple Pie Bed, the Undesirables, Final Friend.

Lawrence Arabia:

Below the wiggling spotlights at Lee’s Palace, this was the usual suspect setlist for Fanfarlo: Drowning men, Pilot, Finish line, Harold, Swedish nostalgia song with vocal chirp, Walls are coming down, another song that’s not on album but I’ve heard at SXSW (with the lights from down on the stage that I thought it was Ghost), Fire escape, a new minor tune song, Comets, Luna, encore with a song for “Record store day” (with Timbre Timber type bird chirp, it’s like Fanfarlo covering Headlights), and finishing with Ghosts. For fun and perhaps for nuts like me, they threw in quite a few alterations: xylophone highlights were occasionally different, speed/beat of the songs would change for different effects, vocal and drum beat were used as connecting devices. I really wish more bands do this instead of record-sync’ing. Compare to Galaxy room in Austin, however, the vocal wasn’t as crisp. And for one reason or another, the crowd was not as rabidly responsive as those in SXSW. I guess shouldn’t be expecting a complete remix of, say, Ghosts, half way through the song. They remain probably the most idiosyncratically (read: worst) dressed band ever. But they have also put on some of the most fluid shows I’ve seen.


Posted on by Gary in Concerts, Everything

One Response to Concert review: Fanfarlo with Robert Francis and Lawrence Arabia, April 2 2010, Lee’s Palace

  1. Myriam

    Robert is not fake at all.
    I suppose he has changed over the years I guess, because when I saw him, he was completely real and modest.
    MY FAVORITE SINGER EVER and I highly reccomend him.
    Love you Rob

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