Jay Brannan – Biltmore Cabaret – November 24, 2010
A boy and his guitar, that’s all it took for an evening of beautiful music.
Jay Brannan, fresh off the plane from Montreal, is on a quick 5 city Canadian tour.
This half-way show in Vancouver came upon one of the coldest nights of the year, yet somehow the cold suited the night as everyone was huddled together in the cozy Biltmore warmed by some witty, emotional lyrics and his lush vocals. Perhaps reflecting his acting skills, Jay has an almost musical theatre like voice, at times emotional and melancholy where as to others it’s comedic and charming. Telling stories, whether in lyrics or to the audience between songs is an art that he has perfected. The audience was genuinely enamoured by the charms of this superstar in the making as he carried on a what felt like conversation with a couple hundred of his closest friends who sang along to “Christmas Really Sucks”, “Housewife” and “Beautifully”
No pretension, no demands, just great music from a sincerely nice, brilliantly talented guy
Sara Bareilles – Commodore Ballroom – November 23, 2010
“This show is all about interactivity” said Sara Bareilles as she wowed the crowd at Commodore Ballroom. Touring in support of her latest album Kaleidescope Heart Sara took us on an emotional, entertaining and energetic journey.
Her, often times, hilarious banter and storytelling really connected her to the audience who were singing, clapping, snapping and swaying along to every song in the 90 minute set. Not only was she connecting and supportive of the audience but of her support acts too, bringing out Holly Conlan and Cary Brothers a few times to sing with her. Gliding effortlessly between poppy, sulty, moody and soulful we were incredibly amazed at her vocal range and ability to convey so many moods within her songs, while keeping the show fun and light.
Comedic interludes about Hookers & Blow, William Shakespeare and usage of the “F” word were seamlessly intertwined with details of what some of her songs were written about. For example, Love Song was written in rebellion of being asked by h
er label to write a ‘love song’ hence “I’m not gonna write you a love song”.
After an evening with Sara I feel like writing her a love song, she completely won me over. She delivered such a fun evening of entertainment, I went from casual to serious fan in 90 minutes!
Blonde Redhead – Commodore Ballroom – November 21, 2010
As Blonde Redhead near the end of nearly three months of touring they stopped at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver in support of their eighth album Penny Sparkle
The Alt-Rock trio of Amedeo Pace, Simone Pace and Kazu Makino played a beautiful 80 minute set to a small but dedicated crowd who ate up every word. Not that there were many words spoken by the group, other than …thank you very much“ as they left the stage. The music was beautiful and the light show was excellent, a simple set of photographer’s lighting foil umbrellas gave a unique atmosphere. Each of the members of the band were amazingly lit, their white costumes at times making them almost ethereal, as though we were blessed to have witnessed this performance.
Their entire set was very thought out and precise, from entering the stage with Kazu in a mask, (reminiscent of General Grievous in Star Wars), to finish with a wall of sound, that quite possibly was whale calls. Unfortunately, at times it seemed a bit more, performance art than music performance, leaving me to feel that we were there just to observe, not to participate in the evening. They would have performed the entire show the same way if there was one or one thousand people watching. I would have like to feel a bit more interaction with the fans to make all of us feel welcome and part of the show. However, this slight criticism does not take away from the fact that we witnessed some beautiful music at the Commodore!
Diamond Rings – Biltmore Cabaret – November 20, 2010
John O’Regan introduced his alter ego Diamond Rings to the crowd at Vancouver’s Biltmore Cabaret Saturday night. A unique combination of syth-pop and spandex, Diamond Rings is a showman like few others. His blend of 80’s new wave and singer songwriter rock sounds current and retro at the same time. Behind the flash and glam there’s a very talented musician, playing keyboards and guitar on stage, there’s a lot of sound going on for a one man show. A lot of the mostly hipster crowd seemed prepared for what they were about to witness…going wild in the front row, shouting out song titles, singing and dancing along. As the hour long set progressed a wave of enthusiasm swept over the rest of the audience as the exuberence caught on, it was like watching the birth of a star. If they didn’t arrive a fan, I’m sure they left as one.
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.
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 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 – 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. 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!