opera house

Concert Reviews: Marina and the Diamonds, September 8, Opera House

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | 1 Comment

Toronto – It would be unfair to compare the two Marina and the Diamonds shows I have seen this year. One was at SXSW and was in on the second floor of a bbq restaurant, a space smaller then my living room while the other was in the large and cavernous space known as the Opera House. I’ll just get it right out there, obviously the first one was better, since it was way more intimate and the crowd had more of a buzz. Still, Wednesday night’s offering of Marina Lambrini Diamandis was a good representation of her vast talents.

Playing songs off both her debut album The Family Jewels and various EPs, Marina pleased the crowd early with hit single I Am Not A Robot(which inspired a sing-along) and her summer single Oh No. Dressed up in a tight football jersey and a hip hugging tights, Marina definitely charmed the crowd with her posh British accent, good looks and general playfulness on stage. The stripped down piano versions of Guilty and Obsessions allowed Marina to exercise her vocal chords and impress the naysayers with her powerful voice.

I thought there was a bit of a lull in the middle part of the set, as she was getting through some of the filler songs on her albums/eps. The set picked up again when Marina disappeared off stage for a few minutes, came back dressed up with a college jacket, dollar sign sunglasses, two hamburgers and started singing her smash hit Hollywood. For me, it seemed only then did the crowd really take off. Current single Shampain followed but the somewhat stiff Toronto crowded fail to participate to her call and response act, which might have been a downer, but that didn’t stop Marina from pulling it in for the rest of the set. The encore featured an perhaps ill advised cover of 3Oh!3’s Starstrukk. Someone should tell her people that no one likes 3Oh!3. The hour long show wrapped up nicely with Mowgli’s Road.

Overall, the 3/4 full crowd at the Opera House had a great time and everyone was in good spirits leaving the show. I was obviously slightly less enthusiastic given the other time I saw her (or maybe because I was sick), but still, one can’t help but think that Marina and the Diamonds will be heading for bigger things soon with her powerful voice, catchy pop music and made for tv looks. We should be glad that we get to see her in a smallish setting in the meantime.

Shampain by Marina and The Diamonds

Check out the video for her new single, Shampain, as well.

Concert Review: The Buzzcocks, May 19, Opera House

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | 1 Comment

Toronto – I was considering going to the Fuck Buttons show instead of this one and found out after the fact that Ricky was indeed going.  After reading his review, I think i would have enjoyed that show (provided I had earplugs, that is) but I figured The Buzzcocks were playing and I always enjoy taking the opportunity to check out music legends whenever I can.  The Buzzcocks are a pretty seminal band from the U.K. punk scene of the ’70s, I like a few of their tunes, and I figure these guys ain’t gettting any younger, so why not check it out?  Besides, I can see Fuck Buttons next time they come to town (unless of course, they’re playing Sound Academy…). 

As I entered the Opera House, openers The Dollyrots were already on.  They were certainly not terrible, but they weren’t great either.  They played bubblegummy pop punk that at times seemed to have more in common with Avril Lavigne than The Buzzcocks.  Maybe I’m being a bit hard on them.  I’ll admit that their stuff was enjoyable enough and at times it reminded me of the soundtrack to that Josie and the Pussycats movie starring Rachel Leigh Cook (That’s a good thing actually – I enjoyed that movie) but ultimately I found them a bit unremarkable.  It says something that their most memorable songs were covers of Melanie’s “Brand New Key” and Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation.”  Apparently they’ve also appeared on The Price Is Right though, so that’s pretty cool.

As the Buzzcocks took to the stage, a friend commented, “We’re going from a band where the singer looks like she could be my daughter to a band where the singer looks like my dad.”  Yup, they’re old.  So was a pretty large percentage of the crowd.  I actually like shows like these, where I’m actually at the lower end of the age spectrum.  Plus, watching old people at punk shows is pretty interesting – especially the guy wearing a beret and leather vest who looked like a refugee from some ’80s Kurt Russell movie or something. (“Snake Plisken?  I thought you were dead!”)  But I’m not here to be a dick and make fun of what people were wearing.  If I was, I’d be writing for Vice magazine instead.  No, I’m here to talk about the music.

So, yeah, The Buzzcocks may be getting old, but they still rocked pretty hard.  It helps that they were mostly playing songs from their first two albums  – they played all the songs people would have wanted to hear and they played them with a fair amount of energy and stage presence.  Overall, it was a pretty good show and a good argument against there being a mandatory retirement age  for aging  musicians.

Concert Review: Beach House, March 30, Opera House

Posted on by Allison in Concerts, Everything | 6 Comments

Ricky’s magic* iPhone photography ©2010

With an album like Teen Dream, it’s no surprise that 2010 has been Beach House‘s mass (I use this term loosely)-breakout year. Yeah yeah, I know Pitchfork loved them after their debut in 2006, but no one I know was really paying attention at that time. Flash forward four years to 2010 and they are playing to sold-out crowds all across major cities North of El Rio Grande.

It has been a bit of a slow burn for Baltimore duo Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally, which in today’s fully internet-driven flash-in-the-pan indie world is I think, a good thing. They have attracted quite the following three albums in and, as is known to most Panic Manual-ers, have made me absolutely smitten.  Teen Dream is already my top pick for best of 2010 and while the year is still young I can guarantee you that they will not be dislodged from a top three placing. I often think of this album in majestic road trip terms and wide open spaces, empty highways and emotional freedom.

The show itself was a Teen Dream exhibition. The duo (and touring drummer whose name I couldn’t rustle up) hasn’t been in Toronto for two years, and only a small selection of Devotion songs were hand-picked. Fine by me. Hearing Teen Dream in its entirety was something I was hoping for but not fully expecting. They went on right as planned at 10:30 and barely paused to catch their breath for the next hour. Light attempts at chit-chat were made and other than a couple of awkward mumblings by Alex, Victoria handled most of it blurting out “We built this city on rock and roll…wait, why did I just say that? Sorry that was one of those dorky moments…”. She also won more hearts over by saying “Toronto is one of those cities that for one reason or another, is magical”.

Ricky has noted that their performance was kind of akin to listening to the album on an iPod in Shuffle mode with the volume turned up. I can’t really argue with that–their set was impeccable but lacked any serious variation from the studio recordings, which begs the question of “Should a band sound different live than they do on their album?” This is one that continuously comes up and my answer is always, if the band created an air of intimacy, I couldn’t care less if their show is a  note for note replica, because there are bound to be subtle differences either way. As always, I thought the percussion was a lot more prominent live than on the album. Other observations: that Alex’s guitar was just a bit too quiet, that Victoria sounds like a more soulful kick-ass 21-st century version of Kim Carnes (the one hit husky smoker voiced Bette Davis Eyes vocalist), and that Sub Pop really needs to give their more prominent up and coming bands more than $30 to spend at a party supply store.

So what the heck was up with those twirling Christmas-ornament things, anyway?

Furthermore, what was up with Alex Scally’s pr0n star moustache (for the love of God you’re a good looking guy–please shave it off!), Victoria Legrand’s shoulder-padded white three-quarter lengthed blazer, Dynasty gold jewelry, and cut off  arm warmers, and the lack of Apple Orchard throughout the set? The truth is, that at the end of the day none of this really matters. Beach House delivered a spine-tingly sonic yet mellowly acoustic show last night. Well worth every penny of the $14 I paid.

SET LIST: (thanks to teshsayspeace)

Walk in the Park
Lover of Mine
Better Times
Silver Soul
Master of None
Used to Be
Heart of Chambers
Take Care


Real Love
10 Mile Stereo

Best: Walk in the Park, Silver Soul, and I think everyone will agree 10 Mile Stereo all made our heads implode from eargasms.

Wouldn’t it be Nice if: Chamber organs were portable? I’d love to hear these guys in a church someday. The acoustics would be amazing.

*Legal notice: By magic I really mean, “awful”.