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 contrast 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.

Concert Review: Lucius, Celisse, May 18, Opera House

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Lucius (67)

In April, Lucius released their first album in over four years – Second Nature – and this month, they made their way to the stage at The Opera House to show us just how fun it could be when you see it performed live! The duo, who have perfected the arts of musical and stylistic synchronization, along with the other members of the six piece, synth-heavy band had only played two shows in Canada over the past six years, so the fans in attendance had been eagerly awaiting this one.

Kicking things off with the title track from their new album, Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe – who in the past have joked about dressing like twins – arrived wearing matching black feather and sequin outfits that would have made Stevie Nicks proud. Laessig and Wolfe didn’t just pair their outfits and vocals together perfectly on their unique double microphone though; they also played drums, keyboard and keytars at various points throughout the show too, in constant unison with one another.

Prior to playing “Dusty Trails” – the only single from their sophomore album Good Grief to be played that evening, Wolfe spoke to the crowd about how the past couple of years of the pandemic had recontextualized some of their songs. When they wrote the song originally, it was about how being on the road had made going home at the end of the tour feel good, but distinctly different than before their careers really took off – and that came with its challenges. But now, with two years and several lockdowns in the rear-view mirror, the song is more of an inverse of that and feels like it’s about not being home anymore and getting used to being back on the road – though she assured the audience, there were more positives to this scenario than the original one.

Past the midway point of the performance, they paused for a minute to call out their opener Celisse – who had been a perfect lead-in for the energy of Lucius – to join them for “Dance Around It” off the new album. Earlier in the night Celisse had made some new fans in the audience with some awesome old-school guitar riffing and songs like “Help Me’“where she was playing both guitar and drums simultaneously. Lucius also called a couple of fans up on stage – fans who had clearly got the memo that sequins were appropriate attire for a Lucius show. As the song started, Celisse stood between the two lead singers and the three of them got everyone, especially the guests on stage, dancing to the poppy indie-disco jam.

When they re-emerged towards the end of the night to start their encore, the pair had done a complete wardrobe change into something that was somehow even more Stevie Nicks-like than their original outfits and sat on the step on the stage to sing “Two of Us on the Run,”  arguably their biggest single from their first album and careers. It was a nice moment of connection and there were points in the stripped down version of the song when the audience was able to sing along with them to further that connection. They rounded out an awesome encore with “Turn It Around” and a cover of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love,” which was perfectly suited to the style, aesthetic and vibe of the band, who have certainly embraced a bit of a spacey-disco sound with their new work. With their new album clearly being a bit of a departure from their older works, I’m certainly interested to see where they go in the coming years!
- Kyle Cadogan