Concert Review: Maria Taylor, February 9, Drake Hotel

Maria Taylor

On a wintry Sunday night, it was a low-key affair at the Drake Hotel Underground with Maria Taylor and her three-piece band, which included her brother Macey Taylor on bass. Also included was copious and endearing usage of the word “penultimate.”

The show opened with two songs where the ethereal-voiced singer played drums: “Matador” and the title track from her latest album, Something About Knowing.  It was a somewhat unusual choice for a singer to open a show behind a drumset, but it only showed her versatility as a musician. Taylor moved over to guitar afterwards for the bulk of her set, and the keyboard for several songs toward the end.

Also known as one-half of the duo Azure Ray and for her collaborations with Saddle Creek labelmates Bright Eyes and Now It’s Overhead, Taylor definitely holds her own as a solo artist. While on record, her music comes across as quiet, folk-influenced and dreamy, a live setting backed with an energetic band brings out a rockier and sometimes country sound to the same songs.

Mostly notably, songs from 11:11, her 2005 debut, had an entirely new feel with different arrangements than their studio counterparts. (This could also be due to a natural evolution of breathing new life into songs played over and over again!) “Song Beneath a Song” showed up early in the setlist, while “Birmingham, 1982” was about halfway through – introduced as a song about memories of growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, around the time when Macey was a child.

The word “penultimate” came up when Taylor said it was a word she liked but didn’t get to use often – and in this case, it was appropriate as she recalls that Toronto is almost always a stop near the end. “It’s almost always the ‘penultimate’ show,” she laughed. Later on, she got to use it again when introducing the penultimate song on the setlist.

Taylor joked that this tour had been especially tiring traveling with her 21-month year old son and warned photographers that she would look especially haggard in photographs.

The overall atmosphere of the show felt casual and comfortable, with Taylor occasionally calling over to her brother to ask what song was next. The set ended with a rocking version of “Xanax” (from 11:11), which began with Taylor on guitar. In an extended outro, opener PJ Bond took over guitar duties while Taylor moved back to the drums. It seemed somehow fitting that she started and ended the show on the same instrument.

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Posted on by Wini Lo in Concerts

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