Robyn – came, danced and conquered!

Robyn
Robyn

Robyn – Venue – November 19, 2010

The capacity crowd at Venue was treated to an all out dance party for Robyn’s hugely anticipated show. From start to finish she danced, sang and had the audience right along with her every beat.

Taking the stage dressed like she was set for a stroll along a fjord in a jacket, cap and platform hiking boots she stood out beside her white lab coat wearing backing band. She soon started shedding the outer layer to reveal her own white over shirt then finally a Star Trek-esque cat suit, ready for non-stop dancing.

Robyn - Dancing all night!
Robyn - Dancing all night!

The 90 minute set featured mostly songs from her recent Body Talk I & II albums with a couple of her 90’s era hits. This was pure pop at it’s best, no frills, no gimmicks, just music and lights and dancing.  She was definitely not dancing on her own, the audience and Robyn danced from start to finish, it’s no wonder she needed to stop to eat a banana half way through! The energy from the room was electric and contagious…I defy anyone to not have had a good time! From the buzz generated by this show, I’m sure when she returns to play a bigger room it will sell in a heartbeat or should I say with every heartbeat?

Brandon Flowers / Fran Healy

Brandon Flowers supported by Fran Healy – Commodore Ballroom – November 15, 2010

Playing to another headliner’s audience after headlining one of the biggest bands in Britain for over a decade has to be disconcerting for Fran Healy especially if the audience starts to heckle with taunts of “Get on with it” or “We want Brandon”. Fran handled it in his usual charming, humourous way of weaving a tale with a message (in this case…don’t be “that guy”, who makes an a$$ of himself at a show)
As he was the support act Fran was limited to a quick 35 minute set, 6 songs. Smartly beginning and ending the set with well known Travis singles, like Fran was singing his credentials to the crowd. It seemed to work, as the finale “Why Does It Always Rain On Me” was heartily sung along by many in the crowd. In between were a few of the tracks off of his first solo album “Wreck Order”.  (Click for a recap, and more images, of Fran’s August acoustic show at the Vogue Theatre)

After a quick set change the stage was ready for Brandon Flowers to come on with a slightly ‘old west’ swagger about him, black vest, jeans and boots, vaguely channelling Johnny Cash meets Elvis meets Freddie Mercury. Brandon Flowers knows how to entertain like the Vegas native that he his.
Kicking his set off with “On The Floor”, Brandon swung right into gear, whipping through much of his debut album, Flamingo. Besides songs from The Killers Brandon also covers “Bette Davis Eyes” which turned out to be a perfect song for his voice.  The 65 minute flew by and judging by the crowd reaction they were left wanting more. Like Fran before him, Brandon completed his set with a song from his band…in this case “Mr Brightside”.
By closing with songs by their more well known bands it made sure everyone left with a familiar ring in their ears.
Overall, it was a great show by two seasoned and brilliant artists who I’m sure we can all agree on left us wanting more…much more!

Josh Ritter – Stompin’ By

JOSH RITTER – Commodore Ballroom – November 4, 2010

Josh Ritter stopped by the Commodore Ballroom or should I say ‘stomped by’ as everyone in the crowd was definitely stomping along to his country/rock/folk style.Josh Ritter
This was my first Josh Ritter show and I was impressed by the audience being so excited for each and every song. For someone relatively young his vocals and musical style hearken back to another era…Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and even a little Elvis seemed to be mixed into his DNA. Whether playing with his backing band or on his own he commanded the room and certainly looked like he was enjoying himself. I’ve not seen many artists smile and laugh so heartily throughout their performance, this was infectious as the audience smiled and laughed along with him throughout his set.
Everyone had a great time!

Stars -Come Out At Night

STARS – Vogue Theatre – November 4, 2010

Stars brought their infectiously catchy indie-pop to the historic Vogue Theatre in Vancouver. A nearly sold out audience was completely entranced during their set, dancing, bouncing, swaying and singing along as waves of melody (and bubbles) washed over the auditorium. With a vast catalogue of tunes to choose from a Stars show is always full of variety, in tempo, sounds and vocals as they alternate between the great Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan on leads.  The Vogue was a great setting to match the Stars style which can range from laid back and mellow or upbeat and raucous just as the audience in the Vogue can sit for a while then stand up and dance…and in the area I was in, dance, they did! Fun!

Bubbles

I had to cut my experience a bit short of the whole set to see another show but that definitely left me looking forward to their next gig in Vancouver!

Kate Nash – Straight Series Presents

KATE NASH – Commodore Ballroom – November 3, 2010Kate Nash returned to Vancouver Wednesday evening with a 90 minute set at the Commodore Ballroom as part of The Georgia Straight’s ‘Straight Series’ of concerts.

In the 3 years since her debut album Kate has become an excellent seasoned stage performer, commanding the audience with nothing more than a piano, a guitar or simply her voice.

Accompanied by a 3 piece backing band Kate performed songs from both her albums; Made Of Bricks and My Best Friend Is You. In sharp contrast to tonight’s other concert this one was just about the music…Kate’s simple yet meaningful lyrics are presented in a her own light cockney accented tone that you almost forget there’s a depth behind them.

Even her chit chat between songs is light but thoughtful…a long diatribe against homophobia & pro-same sex marriage set up and followed “I’ve Got A Secret” until someone in the audience shouted “it’s legal here” which seemed to please her but also deflated her argument…leading her to quickly carry on to a spoken word poem. 

Moments like these demonstrate Kate’s growth as a person and performer since first breaking on the scene. Back then she seemed to be a all persona and image accented by false bravado. Now we have before us a confident, wise woman and very talented songwriter.

Hopefully she won’t stay away so long next time.

Gorillaz – Makin’ the crowd go Ape

GORILLAZ – Rogers Arena – November 3, 2010 Formed in 1998 as a side project for Blur frontman Damon Albarn and British cartoonist Jamie Hewlett (of Tank Girl fame), Gorillaz has up to now existed mostly in a two dimensional plane.
When it comes to touring…one wonders how a ‘virtual band’ will translate to the live concert stage. Well wonder no more…they translate brilliantly!
At Roger’s Arena in Vancouver tonight, Damon and crew wrapped up an 18 date North American tour!
An amazing combination of great sounds and video came to life in front of us…beginning with ‘Welcome to the World of Plastic Beach’ featuring Snoop Dogg on video backed up by a 24 piece band/orchestra. This set us up for a night of endlessly great sounds and video.
The animated Gorillaz past & present; 2D, Murdoc, Noodles, Russel Hobbs and Cyborg Noodle were visually presented above the stage on which Damon and an amazing line up of collaborators and musicians mesmerized us with stunningly (for Rogers Arena) good audio. Other guests in the videos included Bruce Willis and the voice of Malcolm McDowell.
In addition to Damon Albarn ‘live’ members of Gorillaz include (one half of The Clash) Mick Jones and Paul Simonon. They were joined on stage throughout the evening by the Legendary Bobby Womack, Pharcyde’s Bootie Brown, De La Soul, Yukimi Nagano from Little Dragon and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, at times up to 26 people were packed onto the stage.
The 75 minute set was over far too fast but packed in an amazing feast for the eyes and ears…definitely left the audience hungry for more!

The Tabloids – anything but old news

THE TABLOIDS – The Yale Hotel – November 2, 2010

Tonight a good friend invited a bunch of us to check out his new band, The Tabloids. They were playing their first showcase in front at The Yale Hotel.

Having heard same friend’s previous band on occasion, most recently also at The Yale, I had a direct comparison to tonights act. The Tabloids certainly impressed us! For only recently assembling, they were incredibly tight and really worked well together.  At first we thought the couple of female singers were superfluous to needs but we soon warmed up as one of them belted out her part of “Under Pressure”.  All the songs in The Tabloids repertoire are of British decent and they really suited the two lead singers as well as the harmonies of the four singers.
Partly because of the material, but mostly because of the product they were laying down on the stage the 45 minute set flew by in an instant. I would heartily recommend we return to see their next gig.

Even though some amazing R & B legends have graced their iconic stage one of the best things about The Yale is it’s still support of new, music and bands.
The home of Rythm & Blues for decades The Yale is one of the few that has refreshingly not become a ‘hipster’ hangout…it’s still a iconic tavern, showcasing great music for people of all ages and demographics. The Yale is a valuable piece of downtown Vancouver’s entertainment scene.

I hope The Tabloids also become a valuable piece of Vancouver’s entertainment scene too.  If they last a tenth as long as the century old fixture on Granville Street they will be doing alright for themselves!