Concert Review: Morcheeba, February 21st, Phoenix

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts, Everything | 3 Comments

Toronto – I am unsure when was the last time Morcheeba graced our city with their presence, but judging by the near capacity crowd at the Phoenix on Sunday, the answer was an implicit “too long”. In town as part of a lengthy North America tour to promote their seventh studio album Blood Like Lemonade, the London trip hop band played an absolutely splendid 110 minute set with songs that spanned their entire discography. It was a concert that surpassed all my expectations and undoubtedly left everyone a little warm on a frosty night. Taking a hint from Chris Martin, let’s take it back to the start.

I was a bit nervous about the concert prior to entering the confines of the Phoenix. Despite my appreciations for the album Blood Like Lemonade, I had heard very little press about it. The album seemed to just come and go by without much fanfare. A quick look at the charts indicated to me that the singles off that album failed to chart even in their homeland. The concert had been promoted without much fanfare and at a forty dollar charge, me and my friends had speculated it would be a sparsely attended show.

Luckily for me, I was completely wrong. Approaching the Phoenix, I was surprised to be greeted by scalpers at the front of the venue. More surprisingly, I saw people purchasing tickets from the scalpers. Entering the venue, I was shocked to find the Phoenix absolutely packed with people. Where did all these people come from? If there had ever been a further disconnect between what I perceived was popular and what was actually popular, this concert would have been exhibit A.

The band took the stage shortly after ten. On stage, Morcheeba are a six piece band, featuring a guitarist, a bassist, a drummer, a man on keys, a man on decks and of course, the incomparable Skye Edwards. Donned in a flaming red home made dress and armed with hair that reached for the gods, Skye instantly commanded attention the second she took the stage. Starting with hit single The Sea (off 1998’s Big Calm) Skye used her velvety smooth voice to quickly mesmerize the crowd into a head bobbing state.

The rest of the set was a mixture of new and old. The beautiful thing about Morcheeba is that everything just transitions smoothly, whether it was the sing-along classic Rome Wasn’t Built In A Day or the new dramatic single Even Though, all the tracks just fit the Morcheeba sound – smooth and laid back vocals with groovy beats often punctuated by some slick guitar work or record scratches. The appreciative crowd seem to put the band in good spirits and Skye quickly won over the crowd with her seemingly genuine giddiness over the fans and the fact that it was indeed, a long weekend. The tracks off the new record came off as strong as any tracks off Big Calm or Charango highlighted by a wicked guitar solo at the tail end of title track Blood Like Lemonade. Only an ill advised attempt to generate a sing along to new track Beat of the Drum seemed to fall flat.

All in all, an excellent show. I didn’t get to hear Way Beyond but given the band’s vast discography, exclusions had to be expected. The band sounded crisp, Skye’s voice was magnificent and the crowd was into it. Morcheeba, I don’t know how often you tour, but I’ll be there next time you decide to visit us.

Some other tour dates
Feb 23, 2011 Minneapolis First Avenue United States
Feb 25, 2011 Aspen Belly Up Aspen United States
Feb 26, 2011 Denver Ogden Theatre United States
Mar 01, 2011 Seattle Showbox at the Market United States
Mar 03, 2011 Vancouver Commodore Ballroom Canada
Mar 04, 2011 Portland Roseland Theater United States
Mar 05, 2011 San Francisco The Warfield Theatre United States
Mar 06, 2011 Los Angeles The Music Box United States
Mar 08, 2011 San Diego House of Blues United States

Blood Like Lemonade – Morcheeba by [PIAS] Recordings

Concert Review: Wild Nothing, February 17th, Wrongbar

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | Leave a comment

Toronto – In a time where every up and coming buzz band is intent on creating abstract hookless unlistenable chill wave tracks, it has been refreshing to watch Wild Nothing‘s ascension to indie darlings. Undoubtedly influenced by the jangly hook laden melodies of new wave acts such as The Smiths, Wild Nothing has been riding a wave of momentum from their debut album Gemini – an album brimming with catchy dreamy choruses and an evocative longing sound that those eighties English bands had previously mastered. Ready and willing to take on the world, Wild Nothing took their act to a sold out Wrongbar on a rigid Thursday night and to quote the infamous Pete Doherty ” the world kicked back, a lot fucking harder now”.

Taking the stage at 11:30pm after a solid Abe Vigoda set, the band took the tiny Wrongbar stage to a great ovation. The ovation soon dimmed as the band spent most of their set battling their equipment. I’m not sure whether it was the equipment or the sound guy, but the band seemed mired in frustration the entire hour they were on, at one point of the set stopping a song completely halfway through and then restarting it from scratch. Any previous momentum gained by the band came to a complete halt at this point and the band then had to add crowd indifference alongside the sound guy to their list of problems. Sound problems aside, the band seemed content to let their music do the talking, rarely engaging the crowd besides the obligatory thank you remarks. This type of tactic might have worked in any other venue, but the Wrongbar is extremely small and intimate. The barely raised stage just begs for audience interactions and the lack of this seemed to once again dim the bands performance.

Having said all that, the songs, when working, sounded as good live as it did on album. Shimmering guitars weaved in and out of melodic choruses and songs such as Summer Holiday and Chinatown did make me feel glad I was able to make this show.

With all the technical difficulties and stage show drama (or lack thereof), it would be hard to classify this as a good show. However, good music is good music and everyone has bad days so I would be more than willing to check them out again the next time they are in town. You should too.

Wild Nothing – Summer Holiday by Surfing on Steam

SXSW Preview: Tahiti 80

Posted on by Ricky in South By Southwest | Leave a comment

Toronto – With the recent popularity of Phoenix and some valerie bands, it would only seem natural for more French electro pop acts to come out of the woodworks. One of those bands that is enjoying a bit of a renaissance is Tahiti 80. If that name sounds familiar to you, that’s because Tahiti 80 was around when French electro pop bands first started invading the shores of America in early 2000s. Their single Heartbeat made them many fans in that era, as the effortless playful summer tones of that song was a nice contrast to all the other music that was popular at the time. You have probably heard this song. If not the original, then the popular Cornelius remix that exists.

Tahiti 80 – Heartbeat by Hipstersw/kids

Since that time, the band has released four more albums but were unable to obtain similar success on the rugged shores of America. The new infusion of French talent in recent years has once again opened the doors for Tahiti 80 to try to reclaim what once was theirs, if for only a fleeting moment.

The Past, The Present, and The Possible is Tahiti 80’s new album. Their sixth effort, the album is filled with electro laden, hooked fill indie pop tracks that brings in a nice warm current to the winter time air. I don’t know what it is about French bands, maybe it’s the wine, maybe it’s the cuisine. All their music sounds so effortless and fun. Tahiti 80s new album is no exception. While it’s easy to compare this band to current French pop kings Phoenix, one has to remember that these bands have basically been around for the same amount of time. Luckily for us, Tahiti 80 is touring North America this year and you can make these comparisons yourself!

Tahiti 80 will be playing SXSW. Here are their scheduled times:

03/16, SXSW: Official Showcase @ 512 Rooftop
03/17, SXSW: Trumer Pills Afternoon Social @ Klub Krucial (1:30pm)
03/17, SXSW: BUREX Party Brush Square (5:00pm)

They have other dates. None of which is Toronto, sadly. Since I’m so nice I called up all these clubs and got the set times for you.

03/09 CHICAGO, IL The Abbey (11:30pm)
03/10 NEW YORK, NY Mercury Lounge (11:00pm)
03/12 SAN DIEGO, CA Bar Pink (10:30pm)
03/13 SAN FRANCISCO, CA Rickshaw Stop (10:45pm)
03/14 LOS ANGELES, CA Troubadour (10:00pm)

Here is a video for their new single

Darlin’ (Adam & Eve Song) from Tahiti 80 on Vimeo.

CMW / SXSW Preview: Austra

Posted on by Ricky in Canadian Music Week, South By Southwest | Leave a comment

Toronto – Watching the The Wedge last night, I was fully introduced to Austra, a new band featuring talented singer Katie Stelmanis. The song played was called Beat & The Pulse. The song was very appropriately named, as it had a ridiculously dirty beat that instantly captured my attention. Combined with Katie’s tremendous, sometimes haunting vocal work, this is one mesmerizing tune. The video captured the essense of the song nicely, coming across as a mix of a risqué American Apparel commercial (pointed out by Melody from Singing Lamb) and a scene from those illegal night clubs in Eastern Europe. You can watch the video here.

Austra’s debut album Feel It Break comes out May 17th on Paper Bag Records in Canada and on Domino Records everywhere else.

They will be playing at the Wrongbar on March 10th for Canadian Music Fest

The event page for that show is here

Their official showcase at SXSW will be March 17th, Emo’s Main Room, at 9:00 PM, although I suspect they’ll be playing 5 or 6 other shows like every band who makes it down there.

Austra – Beat & The Pulse (Extended Version) by DominoRecordCo