Wednesday, January 26th, 2011
Catching A Tiger
Lissie at The Opera House in Toronto
Frank YangOne to file under silver linings: Lissie – or Elisabeth Maurus according to her Illinois driver’s license – was supposed to make her Toronto debut at the El Mocambo back in October in support of her debut album Catching A Tiger, but that show along with a string of others was cancelled just days before on doctor’s orders after she lost her voice. The make-up show, which went off on Monday night, had a new venue to go with the new date – the twice-as-large Opera House which still managed to completely sell out. Okay, maybe that’s not such a silver lining for those who would have preferred to see her in a more intimate setting, but if you were one of the 400 people who wouldn’t have been able to see her if not for the bigger room then you weren’t complaining.
The evening didn’t go off completely without a hitch, though, as tour support Dylan LeBlanc was held up at the border necessitating locals Bahamas to be parachuted in as openers. Not that I would have been there in time to see either of them anyways. Lissie, however, showed up precisely on schedule to the strains of the Twin Peaks theme and roaring applause – this may have been her first time here, but clearly she had an impressive local fanbase already. And though she’s technically still a new artist, she worked the room for the next hour and change like a seasoned veteran with years of performing under her belt.
I’d seen her perform at SxSW 2010 and was impressed with how good she was without having any sort of angle or gimmick – just a great voice and great country-rock songs. Tiger also impressed but introduced a little doubt with regards to the unexpectedly slick production values; the songs were still superb but the delivery seemed like it was trying a bit too hard, and unnecessarily. “Slick” was not an adjective that had any place in this show, however, as it was just Lissie, a lead guitarist and combination bassist/drummer on stage – it’s not physically possible to work any gloss into the proceedings with that configuration, so the evening was a welcome return to basics: Lissie, her songs and her hugely expressive and powerful voice – it was hard to believe just a few months ago she was at risk of losing it.
The hour-long main set didn’t fit as many songs in as you might have expected – there was lots of entertaining banter throughout – but the audience was adoringly rambunctious and demonstrated one of the perks of being an artist without a “hit” song; no one was here to hear the single and then head for the doors, they were here for the duration. Still, it can’t be ignored that for as good as her own stuff is, much of Lissie’s exposure came with her unexpected cover versions and after a moving “Oh Mississippi” to lead off the encore, she finished things out with her version of Kid Cudi’s “The Pursuit Of Happiness”… and not one of the songs I would have actually known (Metallica, Lady Gaga, Zeppelin). But still, a crowd-pleasing finish to a crowd-pleasing and excellent set.
Mountain XPress has an interview with Lissie.
Photos: Lissie @ The Opera House – January 24, 2011
MP3: Lissie – “Little Lovin'”
MP3: Lissie – “Everywhere I Go”
MP3: Lissie – “In Sleep” (live)
Video: Lissie – “When I’m Alone”
Video: Lissie – “Cuckoo”
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