Concert Review: Sloan, December 1, The Phoenix

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While they’ve been going strong since 1991, it’s been a while now since I last saw Sloan play live – I almost feel like I’ve been taking the band for granted over the years. But Sloan have caught my attention and managed to pique my curiosity again with their solid new album 12, so I took Saturday night’s show at the Phoenix Concert Theatre as an opportunity to finally end my Sloan hiatus. And the band did not disappoint, reminding me of everything I liked about them in the first place.

After taking to the stage to the strains of the “Pinball Number Count” song from Sesame Street, the band kicked things off with the jolt of pure power pop energy that is “Spin Our Wheels,” the first single off the new album. While older songs like “Losing California”, “The Other Man” and “I Hate My Generation” were definite crowd pleasers, the new material ended up making for some of the highlights of the evening – other standouts from among the new stuff included “Essential Services” and “The Day Will Be Mine,”a crunchy little number that feels like a bit of a callback to the band’s Smeared days.

Over the course of the night, the band would go on to play almost all of 12 during their two sets, as well as several of the hits and also a few rarities, the rarest of which was “Step On It, Jean,” a non-album track which they put out around 2003. Definitely a bit of a deep cut, but as Chris Murphy explained, “We’re a cult band so we can play whatever we like.” Fair enough.

“Now I’ve gotta go on the drums and suck,” joked Murphy after finishing up that track, although he was clearly being a bit modest. The band then did their usual switch-up to give drummer Andrew Scott the opportunity to step away from the kit and take the lead on “Gone for Good” (one of the strongest tracks off the new album with its mellow, proggy, folk-rock vibe) and “People Of The Sky.” Murphy would later go on to joke about how this was essentially a hometown show for the band. “It’s our hometown show even though we’re a Halifax band. But how often did the Beatles go back to Liverpool?”

While some might quibble with the omission of some of the band’s bigger hits (“Money City Maniacs”, “Everything You’ve Done Wrong” and “Underwhelmed” were a few that stood out in their absence), the band’s focus on the new stuff highlighted what a strong album 12 really is and proved that they’re still at the top of their game. Sloan may have started out their set singing “There’s only so much time we can kill here before we start to spin our wheels” but despite being around for nearly three decades, Saturday night’s show proved that Sloan are most certainly not just killing time and spinning their wheels and that after 27 years as a band they’ve become a well oiled rock and roll machine.

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Posted on by Paul in Concerts

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