Friday, May 5th, 2006
Song For The Songs
It was a festive sort of night last night at the Horseshoe – Swedish pop orchestra The Concretes was kicking off their North American tour in support of In Colour and in addition it was head Concrete Victoria Bergsman’s 29th birthday. As they got started, she pleaded jet lag as an explanation for any discombobulation that might occur during the show but such excuses weren’t necessary at all – for the hour and change that they played, the eight-piece band, dressed (almost) all in white, were as lovely and entertaining as could be.
Bergsman and guitarist Maria Eriksson are something to see up there at the front of the stage, providing you were close enough – so very tiny they are. Actually, all the band were rather small save for one of the horn players. He was huge. While Eriksson swaggered around the stage in baby-doll dress and guitar, Bergsman spent much of the show anchored to her mic, eyes closed and barely moving. But as lead singer, she was naturally centre of attention and while she didn’t seem uncomfortable, it seemed for most of the show she might explode from shyness or cuteness, whichever reached critical mass first.
But the combination of her druggy, low-key vocals and the energetic Motown-driven pop of the band sounded damn near perfect. I’ve heard some bemoan In Colour‘s sprightlier tone, preferring the more melancholic tone of the debut, and that’s fine. Personally, I was only a moderate fan of the first record and definitely like the second one more, whichever side of the fence you’re on I defy you to tell me that the rotating lead vocals between Bergsman, Eriksson and drummer Lisa Milberg on “Song For The Songs” are anything but pure pop perfection. There were moments where I missed some of the extra-lush production touches that appear on the record (oh the strings) but that’s a miniscule complaint. If it’s true that they were off their game, I didn’t notice and it bodes well for anyone with an opportunity to catch them at a later date. If you get the chance to see them, you should. So says me.
Opening things up was Sally Seltmann, aka New Buffalo, who would be along for the ride for the whole tour. Notable as being Arts & Crafts’ first international signee, the ‘Shoe was crawling with Broken Social Scenesters out to support the extended family from down under. I’d never heard a note of New Buffalo before, and am happy to say I was pleasantly surprised. A girl (or guy) with just a guitar can be a hard sell, but a girl with a guitar, keyboard, iPod and maraca has my attention. While fundamentally singer-songwriter material, New Buffalo had a curious amalgam of styles going on that sounded rather fresh. She was like a folksinger subbing in for a lounge singer playing torch songs while backed by half a big band. Or something like that. I particularly liked how she managed to come off as confident yet shy and her music strong yet wounded.
Photos will be up in a day or two – this delay will now be more the norm than the exception. ‘m doing more processing, etc these days so while it takes longer, I’d like to think the results will be worth the extra time and effort. Update: Photos are up.
Just a couple days too late to piggyback onto Tuesday’s post, The Ottawa Sun offers a brief conversation with local sons (and daughter) My Dad Vs Yours. I Heart Music has also got a nice profile of the band up right now. I like his description of their sound – “post-pop”.
And tangential to a point I made in that post, The AV Club lists off 10 acts who’ve found success despite awful band names.
Editors return to… edit. August 2 at the Opera House. Bring your red sharpies. Full North American tour dates at The Tripwire. Tripwire was a great G.I.Joe figure. He came with a metal detector. So when not fighting Cobra, he could go looking for pirate treasure on the beach.
np – Camera Obscura / Let’s Get Out Of This Country