Saturday, July 24th, 2004
Footloose And Fancy Free
“Nice” is such an inadequate adjective – it sounds like such faint praise (ie – “oh, that’s… nice”) – but sometimes it’s just the most appropriate descriptor. For example, last night’s Camera Obscura show at the Horseshoe was just NICE. It would be inaccurate to say “it rocked” or “it blew me out of the water” or some bit of hyperbole like that, because that’s not what Camera Obscura’s elegant throwback pop is about – it’s just nice. Charming, literate, melodic, immaculately arranged and performed and nice. I’m pretty sure the band themselves are nice, too – even the huge guys who look more like they should be playing rugby than twee-pop. The seven-piece Glaswegien outfit was making their live Canadian debut and they couldn’t have picked a better city than Toronto, since we tend to give undconditional love to any band with an accent. They earned it, however, turning in a stellar performance of songs from both their albums over the course of a tight one-hour set (less encore). Tracyanne Campbell’s voice was the perfect mix of sweet and forlorn and harmonized perfectly with co-lead vocalist John Henderson, who did a fine job working the tambourine, shakers and melodica when not stepping up to the mic. Never underestimate the power of the simplest percussion instruments, handclaps or finger snaps to put a song over the top – a good tambourine shake is a thing of beauty. Keyboardist Carey Lander’s backing vocals were pretty much inaudible, though – a pity. All in all, a very, um, nice show. Underachievers nothing. Pictures here.
I didn’t have great expectations for openers Pony Up! going into the show, the samples I listened to off their website didn’t really impress, but I came a way somewhat turned around on them. While the stuff I had heard previously was still the weakest material, that’s a compliment of sorts because some of their other stuff was quite good. A couple of guitarist-sung numbers really put the other material to shame, it was so much more accomplished. And definite props for successfully incorporating some unconventional instruments (glockenspiel, concertina) into their sound. They’re quite young and have got the ingredients to do something interesting in the future – I was persuaded enough to pay attention down the line.
What a night for shows in town last night, though. Besides the nearly-sold out Camera Obscura show, I’m sure the Hidden Cameras CD release show at Trinity-St Paul’s and The Weakerthans gig at the Mod Club were both great shows and heavily attended. So many choices.
The Delgados are back in town again on October 23 at Lee’s with Crooked Fingers as support, tickets $15. Why, you ask? To support their new album Universal Audio, out on September 28. Chemikal Underground has a tracklisting and album artwork as well as a 30-second clip of the first single, “Everybody Come Down”. I daresay they sound positively peppy… what gives?
np – Calexico / The Black Light