The first time I saw Christopher Owens, he was making his Toronto debut at the El Mocambo with a minimal setup under the band name “girls“. Last Friday night, I saw Christopher Owens make his debut as a solo artist, only this time he as playing with a full band. Go figure.
The name, band members and location may have changed but what hasn’t changed is Christopher Owens’ ability to craft songs around simple harmonies that sound like it could be from another era. Lysandre is his debut album, and it’s an interesting album because it seems to have been built around one theme/hook. It’s a theme that permeates throughout the album in many instrumental forms and it played out the same way on Friday night. Playing the album from beginning to end, the live rendition of Lysandre showcased Christopher Owen’s new material, which with all the flutes, saxophone and synthesizer, appears to be a more polished sound then his previous work.
As a live performer, Owens doesn’t really present much more then the music itself. After saying a quick hello, Owens seemed content to let his music do the talking – alternating between standing up for the rock parts and sitting down for the slower numbers. For a man who seems to put out material at such a rapid pace, I wonder if playing on tour is just something he tolerates. Maybe he’s just shy, I’m not sure. On a side note, his multi-instrumentalist who alternated between the flute, sax and other instruments was quite sharp, even receiving a “more flute!” yell from the crowd. I also spent a good portion of the show trying to figure out whether the two lady backing singers were twins or not. I was later told they weren’t and one of them was Christopher Owens girlfriend.
With Lysandre clocking in at around half an hour, you can only imagine how short the concert might have been. With no interest in playing Girls material, Owens and his six piece band came back on stage and played a quick set of covers – including a nice version of Cat Steven/Yusuf Islam’s Wild World. Overall, the show was pleasant – short and sweet, but somehow, maybe because of the artists given history, you kind of felt like there would be a bit more to the show. Maybe that comes next time.