Friday, May 14th, 2004
Long Gone Before Daylight
Cardies rule, ok?
I think it’s been about five years since the Cardigans last visited our fair city, promoting the patchy Gran Turismo. I missed that show but remember the reviews being lukewarm and some of the live material I’ve heard from that era backs that opinion up. Thankfully, it looks like the band has made the most of their time away as the unit that took the stage to a packed house at Lee’s Palace last night was anything but lukewarm. Their choice of venue definitely underestimated their draw – even though they’re seven or eight years removed from their days of MTV ubiquitousness thanks to “Lovefool”, they’ve maintained a sizable fanbase worldwide, including Toronto, and I know of a number of people scrambling to find last-minute tickets. For those of us fortunate enough to have gotten tickets, though, the choice of a smaller venue was definitely a blessing. It’s not that often you get an opportunity to get that close and intimate with a veteran band perhaps more accustomed to playing European festivals.
Long Gone Before Daylight was one of my favorite albums of last year and I’m pleased to say the material translates even better live. The production on album inched perilously close to being overly-precise and -polite (some would say it crossed that line), but in performance it gained some excellent roughness around the edges that gave it a real kick. It certainly didn’t hurt that the band, augmented for this tour with a backup singer/guitarist/keyboardist (hooray for more cute Swedish girls!) are all stellar musicians and Nina’s voice was amazingly strong. I don’t think their musicianship is something they get enough credit for, as much of the lazy journalism about the band focuses on their perceived tweeness and Nina’s dimples. In truth, there’s always been a real thread of darkness through the band’s material and while it was brought to the fore a little too much with Gran Turismo, it sits quite nicely within the band’s new downbeat, country-flavoured rock direction. While the bulk of the set list was drawn from Daylight, they did include a few Turismo numbers re-arranged to fit their newer sound. “Explode” got the most dramatic overhaul and in my opinion, sounded a world better for it. A couple of new songs that sounded promising rounded out the set. Nitpickers might grouse about the absence of anything from First Band On The Moon or older, but honestly that material wouldn’t have fit in the band’s current repetoire and anyone who thinks it was anything less than a stellar show because of that is just silly. The band seemed genuinely enthused about the excitement of the crowd, so hopefully that’ll encourage them to not wait another half-decade before their next visit.
Opener Jonathan Rice was decidedly underwhelming. It became apparent three songs into his set when he decided to “go local” by covering Neil Young’s “The Old Laughing Lady” that this boy had little concept of restraint or delicacy. Pretty much everything was drowned in overwrought and over-emoted delivery that overwhelmed any redeeming qualities his songs might have had. Only Chad Kroeger can get away with holding a single syllable that long, and Chad Kroeger still sucks. By the end of his set, I was rooting around in my bag looking for a Game Boy, and I don’t even have a Game Boy.
On going into the club, security poked through my bag and said that cameras were discouraged – I said I wouldn’t use the flash and while they still didn’t seem wholly satisfied, they let me in. True to my word, I didn’t use the flash, but everyone else certainly was. Trying to stop concert-goers from snapping pics of Nina Persson is like trying to hold back a tidal wave with a fork. Just ain’t going to happen. My photos are here.
The Waxwings are going to be in town for the NXNE! June 11 at Healeys, 1AM. That will rule. Also in the list of things that rule is the fact that they have a new album, Let’s Make Our Descent, out July 13.
Got my Magnetic Fields tickets! That’s a load off my mind. Seriously, I was paranoid that it’d sell out on me.
np – Fruit Bats / Mouthfuls