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!

JDRF – Rockin For Research Auction

Looking for a unique gift for a music lover?

Check out the Rockin For Research On-line Auction! Supporting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) the Rockin For Research Gala has earned over $6 million, via its live/silent auctions, since it’s inception in 2000.  For the first time, some of this year’s most exclusive items; including guitars signed by Sarah McLachlan, Chad Kroeger and April Wine, have been put on-line to allow everyone the opportunity to take part.
Visit the auction site before November 27, pick up a great gift and feel great helping support the JDRF.

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!

Klaxons

Klaxons – Venue – October 4, 2010

Three years in the making, Klaxons finally return to Vancouver in support of their long awaited second album, Surfing The Void
With huge buzz out of the gate, taking their time to follow up their debut seemed like a risk especially for a British band facing the fickle British music press. 
On this side of the pond, if the crowd at Venue was anything to go by, the enthusiasm hasn’t diminished. Although not completely sold out there was a good turn out to catch their bouncy new-rave songs.
??A?s? ?t?h?e?y? ?w?h?i?p?p?e?d? ?t?h?r?o?u?g?h?? a?? ?9?0? ?m?i?n?????u?t?e?? ?s?e?t? ?i?n?c?l?u?d?i?n?g? ?h?i?t?s??? ??????????G?o?l?d?e?n? ??S?k?a?n?s?,? ?????I?t?’?s? ???N?o?t? ??O??v?e?r?, Echoes among others, the band and crowd fed off of each others’ energy growing with each new tune. Even though I don’t know their new material well yet, their enthusiastic performance kept me bounc?ing? and engaged throughout the night…a tough task late on a Monday night. ? ??? ???  ?

Scissor Sisters

Scissor Sisters – Malkin Bowl – September 16, 2010

Mother Nature fought hard but the Scissor Sisters still won over the capacity crowd at a very rain soaked Malkin Bowl.
Even though the rain came pouring down the audiences still had a great vibe in anticipation of the Scissor Sisters largest Vancouver show to date.  When the band finally took the stage; people in varying levels of rain protection, from plastic bags and styrofoam take out containers to North Face and Gortex danced and sang like it was a beautiful sunny dry evening.
Lead by the incredibly fit, Jake Shears and glamour vixen Ana Matronic, the Scissor Sisters’ infectious blend of 70’s Elton John meets 80’s Yaz synth-pop gets under your skin and makes you want to dance, dance and dance some more. 
In weather that has made other acts whither and hide under the sheltered part of the stage Jake and Ana were troopers and continued to perform over the whole stage.  After a couple of songs, practicality got the better of Jake and he traded in his latex singlet for a Gortex raincoat.  Amazingly this didn’t take anything away from the show, in fact it seemed to make the night that much more special as Jake and Ana were “one of us” partying in the rain. 
This continued into the night as the band joined fans at the after-party at Five-Sixty. Rather than sticking to a VIP area and partying on their own the band was out on the floor with the rest of us celebrating the wrap of their North American tour.  Just another reason to love this band!