About three songs in to Marillion‘s set at the Danforth, singer Steve Hogarth addressed the crowd and was met with adoring cheers that practically drowned him out. It all seemed a bit much for me after only three songs, but it does go to show the level of cult fandom the British prog rockers elicit.
The band is touring behind their latest record Fuck Everything And Run (F.E.A.R.), which Hogarth admitted is a fairly dark album. Lyrically, F.E.A.R revolves around a lot of political and social commentary on the modern world, one of the highlights of which was the epic “The New Kings,” described as being about what happens when money gets involved in politics and dedicated to “those people who really don’t give a fuck about any of us.” As the band played, the words “too big to fail,” “greed is good,” and “why is nothing ever true?” flashed onscreen to drive home the point. Hogarth also got political in his stage banter at times, commenting on Mark Carney (“We now have your Mark Carney as governor of the Bank of England. He looks good in a suit, I’ll give him that …”) and new PM Theresa May (“the jury’s still out”) as well as giving a shout out to Scotland (“a country that runs on paranoia”).
While the new material was some of the best sounding stuff all night, the biggest crowd responses came for older numbers such as “Lavender” and “Kayleigh,” which I believe made it’s debut on the current North American tour this evening. As the band came out for their second encore, someone shouted out, “You’ve gotta do ‘Kayleigh!'”. “Oh yeah, you wanna hear that? We can do it if you’re arsed,” replied Hogarth. “You’ve got to sing though.” And sing they did, with Hogarth content to stand back and let the crowd sing the whole first verse, thus displaying more of that devotion they showed earlier in the night with all that cheering.
While I may not have been on board with the massive amounts of cheering so early on in the set (save it for the encore, folks), I was definitely impressed with Marillion. Having been around since the ’80s, the band was tight and impressive in their virtuosity, but most impressive was Hogarth’s performance. He’s quite an entertaining frontman, making all sorts of wild and dramatic gesticulations throughout their set that really helped to drive their performance home.
You can paint a show with any brush you want but for what it’s worth, Tegan and Sara are just the right combination of humor, humility and songs to really get you feeling good after a show. It really helps that the band have quietly developed an arsenal of tracks that can cater to a Friday night crowd.
Love You To Death is the 8th studio album released by the duo and it’s light, anthemic, hook laden music was perfect for a crowd that was ready to roll on Halloween weekend. The new album is one of my favourites of the year and I actually had to stop listening to it earlier this year to prevent burning out. The album builds on the pop formula seen in full display from 2013’s Heartthrob, which produced one of their most popular tracks, “Closer.” After hearing set closer “Stop Desire” live, it’s pretty apparent that track has a new rival for best T&S track to dance to.
Fans of the older material didn’t need to fret though, as one of the two pointed out very early in the show “only 8 out of 24 songs on this set list are new,” just in case people were worried. That kind of self aware banter went on throughout the night and it added a personal touch which is strange because we were in the cavernous Massey Hall. Of particular enjoyment was a conversation about the body aches that comes with aging and also, another moment where everyone was waving their hands and one of the duo ( i can’t tell which) casually quipped “this is the part where we do this.” Some of this material probably gets repeated on a nightly basis, but who the hell cares when it’s this enjoyable.
There is no time in life when I would be excited to stand behind a screaming 19 year old dressed in a banana suit besides on Halloween weekend at the Double Door hosting Bad Suns. When you’re watching a quartet of brootiful men with a shiny metallic sun make infectious indie pop onstage under a moving disco ball, really a screaming 19 year old in a banana suit is just appropriate ambiance.
I spent the first thirty minutes of the show utterly confused, texting my sister, because I couldn’t understand why I didn’t recognize a single song Bad Suns were playing. Turns out the openers COIN just went hard for an hour and a half and the audience was super into it. The Nashville quartet ran through “Run” and “Time Machine” from their self titled 2015 album as well as their new 2016 single “Talk Too Much”.
As the band left the stage (and everyone checked their phones for the cubbies score) Bad Suns took to the stage under their glittering metallic sun and the moving disco ball, immediately rolling into the first song off their new album “Disappear Here” and moving quickly through “Patience,” “Even In My Dreams I Can’t Win,” “Dancing on Quicksand,” “Sleep Paralysis,” “Transpose,” and one of my favorites, “Daft Pretty Boys.” It’s a testament to how good the new album is that the crowd seemed to be more pumped for the new songs than the old (maybe also a testament to how young the band is) but there was palpable excitement at the beginning of every track, and from the first song to the last everyone was on their feet dancing. As the band left the stage (and as everyone once again checked their phones for the cubbies score) there was a chant of “Heart.Break.Er! Heart.Break.Er!” The band of course came out and accommodated. As everyone dispersed into the night to watch the cubbies finish up a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Cleveland, I think everyone who was at the Double Door would agree that Bad Suns was the highlight of their night.
Although she’s only 26, Lydia Loveless is already a veteran, having released four full lengths and an EP since 2010 and her latest, Real (out on Bloodshot Records), is one of her best yet. The opening track off the album, “Same To You,” really stands out with it’s lyrics detailing someone who’s considering getting out of a bad relationship and a chorus that’s somewhat reminiscent of Ottawa’s Kathleen Edwards.
Check it out below, and while you’re at it, maybe check out Lydia Loveless live when she plays Adelaide Hall on November 5.