Concert Review: Cass McCombs, December 4, Lee’s Palace


It was an evening of opposites at Lee’s Palace on Wednesday night. The stage was lit up with a sparkly backdrop and flashing, twinkling lights, and the audience was generously and boisterously vocal. Cass McCombs, flanked by his three-piece band, seemed to be a man of few words, letting his well-crafted songs do the talking.

The show opened with “What Isn’t Nature,” an older song with a jangly guitar line reminiscent of the Walkmen (who, incidentally, McCombs toured with in 2009 – they also played Lee’s on their Toronto stop). There were short pauses in between each song – with not a word spoken by McCombs, combined with appreciative cheers from the audience – the set was fairly straight ahead and crowd-pleasing. With a discography spanning seven records, there was an inevitable mix of old and new songs, including “My Sister My Spouse,” “Robin Egg Blue,” and “Big Wheel.”

Before the last song of the set, McCombs finally spoke, thanking the audience and saying it would their last one for the night. The crowd responded with yells of “No!” to which McCombs grinned and quickly said, “Yes” in reply. There was a back and forth of “No!” and “Yes!” before the band launched into “County Line.” The song drew a unanimous surge of approval before the crowd mellowed out and swayed with probably the most well-known McCombs song in his catalogue.

After extended cheering and shouts, the band came out for one last song – the appropriately named “There Can Be Only One,” from McCombs’ latest record, Big Wheel and Others. Quickly thanking the audience once again, McCombs and band disappeared from the stage quietly, with the twinkly lights still flashing in their wake.

Posted on by Wini Lo in Concerts

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