Concerts

Roskilde Festival Review: Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Daniel Romano’s Outfit, Fontaines DC, Drew Sycamore, June 29

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Picture it: Roskilde, 2019. The Cure are on stage closing out that year’s edition of the Roskilde festival, a festival that I first experienced back in 2011. I was charmed that year by the festival’s setting, its musically adventurous lineup encompassing a myriad of genres, and just its general cool vibe, which Roskilde attendees have come to know as the orange feeling (named for the trademark orange hue if its main stage). And so I decided I needed to return, coming back again in 2012, 2014 and 2019. But after that 2019 edition, it seemed unlikely I’d return.

This is not to say I was dissatisfied with Roskilde 2019. On the contrary – it was as good as ever. Rather, as I stood in that field on the festival site, watching Robert Smith and co. run through a brilliant version of “Pictures of You”, I thought “this is a good note to go out on.” After all, there’s plenty of other places to see and plenty of other music festivals out there too. Then 2020 happened. And 2021. And let’s be real, 2022 has been no picnic either. During a good chunk of that time, live music wasn’t really an option at all. And so, with the summer 2022 season upon us and Roskilde finally making its return to the festival landscape after three years away (and for its 50th edition, no less), all of a sudden I’m like John Wick – yeah, I’m thinking I’m back.

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Also back was Robert Plant, making his return to the festival after the previous edition and touring behind Raise The Roof, his latest collaboration with Alison Krauss. “Three years later,” he said. “Same stage, same tent. With great new friends.” Plant and Krauss put on an incredible performance on the Arena Stage that was one of the most memorable of the night.

Another highlight of the first night of the festival was Daniel Romano’s Outfit, one of the few Canadian acts on the bill this year. And though I may have chosen to take in their set in part because I wanted to support the “home team,” I stuck around for the whole thing because Romano and his outfit are a tight band who put on a hell of a show.

Earlier in the day, Dublin’s Fontaines DC got things started on the Avalon stage. Like Plant, Fontaines DC are also a repeat offender from the 2019 lineup, and in the time since that show, they have only improved as a live unit and put on an impressive show on this occasion in support of the recently released Skinty Fia.

A name that was new to me, but clearly not new to the many fans who flocked to the Orange stage for her mainstage opening set, Danish pop singer Drew Sycamore also delivered a high energy show that would definitely help to set the mood for the days to come.

Concert Review: Bob Mould, Katie Malco, June 22, Oran Mor

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Anyone going into Bob Mould‘s Wednesday night show at Glasgow’s Oran Mor with the assumption that a Mould solo gig might be a more subdued night of acoustic singer-songwriter vibes surely had any of those preconceived notions dashed once he took to the stage. With a simple greeting of “How’s it going? Let’s get right to it then”, Mould launched into “The War” off 2014’s Beauty and Ruin. It may have just been one man and his guitar, but Mould was plugged in, loud and distorted, and ready to make a racket.

Running through songs from throughout his career, including newer stuff like “Forecast of Rain” and “The Ocean” off of 2020’s Blue Hearts alongside old classics like “Flip Your Wig”, “Never Talking To You Again”, “Celebrated Summer” and “If I Can’t Change Your Mind”, Mould put on a fun, high energy show for the fairly packed house at Oran Mor.

And if there were any who did come to the show hoping for something more acoustically based, opener Katie Malco had that area covered. Focusing on tunes off of her latest release Failures, the English singer played a solid opening set that definitely made an impression on many in attendance if the lineup that formed at the merch table after her set is any indication.

Concert Review: Protest The Hero, June 10, Danforth Music Hall

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Excitement was pretty high at the Danforth Music Hall on Friday night as fans prepared themselves for an evening of progressive metal from Whitby’s own Protest The Hero. Following a solid opening set from Edmonton’s Choke, the band took to the stage and launched into opening number “The Migrant Mother.” Everything seemed to be going fairly well. Then the unexpected happened.

After singing only one song, vocalist Rody Walker addressed the crowd, noting that his voice was shot and that he was not in a position to push it this evening, adding that he’s “never done this before and I hope to never do it again.” And while it seemed for a second that this might have signaled an early end to the night, Walker went on to say that the band would carry on without him, playing a mostly instrumental set while he watched from the sidelines. And with that, he left the stage, leaving the audience wondering what would happen next.

Though the band was down a singer, many in the crowd gladly took on the task of singing along en masse in his stead, and it seemed that the vast majority of those in attendance were still pretty pumped to be at the show even if Walker wouldn’t be a part of it for most of the night. And of course the band still sounded fantastic. It’s a testament to both their talent and the fans’ dedication that this show went off so well with the band missing a vital member.

At the point when the band normally would have left the stage before coming back out for an encore, Walker returned to the stage to say a few more words, mentioning that despite being “suprememly bummed” to have missed the show, he was also quite proud of his bandmates for the show they had put on this evening. He then invited someone named Jesse out to sing the encore in his place as the band ended things of with “Mist”, their 2013 tribute to the people of Newfoundland.

While this was not an ideal situation for any band to deal with, Protest The Hero definitely made the best of a bad situation, putting on what ended up being quite a unique and memorable show despite the setback.

Concert Review: Frayle, June 4, The Opera House

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Early on in their Saturday night set at The Opera House, Frayle vocalist Gwyn Strang addressed the crowd, mentioning that Toronto is her hometown and that it was good to be back home. I must point out though that the way she pronounced Toronto suggests that she’s probably been away for long enough that she’s adjusted so as not to confuse Americans who might wonder where this ‘Toronno’ place is located.

Quibbles about pronunciation aside, Frayle put on a compelling show full of slow, heavy riffs counterbalanced by the gentler sound of Strang’s ethereal vocals. With their dark, moody sounds and witchy sort of vibe, the Cleveland band acted as a good contract to headliner Cradle of Filth’s more over the top approach.

Frayle’s upcoming album Skin & Sorrow is set to be released on July 8 Via Aqualamb Records.

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