Tuesday, July 10th, 2012
Loney Dear at The Horseshoe in Toronto
Frank YangGetting back and forth from Sweden to North America isn’t cheap – trust me, I’ve looked – so having already been through town in November for last year’s chart-topping Hall Music, I really didn’t expect Loney Dear to be coming back anytime soon even though history has shown them to be more willing to tour through North America than many of their countrymen. So the unexpected announcement of a handful of Summer dates including Sunday night at The Horseshoe felt more like a gift than anything else.
That said, and as wonderful as that show at The Drake last Fall was, I really hoped it wouldn’t be a repeat performance. Which is to say that while Emil Svanängen totally managed to beguile as a solo performer (aided by a studio’s worth of gear onstage), Loney Dear shines brightest as a full band – anyone at their previous visit to the ‘Shoe in October 2009 or their Toronto debut at Lee’s in June 2007 could testify to that. So it was pretty nice to walk into the venue and see the stage covered with more gear than one person could possibly play on their own, even though last time out Svanängen certainly gave it a shot.
Interestingly, though Loney Dear was a four-piece this time, Svanängen’s station remained the same as when he was on his own – a chair surrounded by looping equipment, organ pedals, percussion instruments, extra mics – each of his bandmates also had a similarly complex setup; the stage was an incomprehensible morass of boxes, cables and stands. Apparently rather than spread out the workload of recreating his compositions, he was going to increase it exponentially. The core of it may well have been what Svanängen brought in the Fall – even with a drummer on hand, the looped drum and cymbal tricks remained in the mix – the addition of the rhythm section and Malin Ståhlberg on keys, accordian, and backing vocals added a whole new dimension to the songs live. And yet for all the sonic tools at their disposal, the front half of the show – dedicated to Hall Music material – felt intimate, baroque, and elegiac in tone, successfully translating the songs inspired by and meant to be played with Swedish chamber orchestras to a bar in North America, performed without any strings at all. The grand swelling choruses that defined the earlier records felt a thousand miles away.
The older material did come, though, albeit thoroughly recontextualized: “Saturday Waits” was given to Ståhlberg to take lead vocals on; “Ignorant Boy, Beautiful Girl” built to gorgeous heights around the steady “Na Ma Na Ma” vocal lines; “Dear John” was rendered spare and jazzily with an emphasis on some improvised vocal acrobatics. All were markedly different from their recorded versions, yet still immediately familiar and just as beautiful in their way. The gathered crowd wasn’t especially large but it was appreciative, such that after finishing their main set with “Violent”, the band didn’t even leave the stage – they just bowed a few times and acquiesced to play a few more songs. They attempted to make it interactive for “I Fought The Battle Of Trinidad & Tobago” but Svanängen had far too much confidence in the audience’s collective abilities to execute multi-part harmonies, but were content to allow us to bask in “Sinister In A State Of Hope” and “I Was Only Going Out”. I hope some audience member took Svanängen up on his invitation to drink the band under the tables; they’d earned it.
Loney Dear is one of the artists featured in Swedish Music Landscape, a new photographic book focusing on Swedish pop musicians and their environment; I’ve ordered a copy, I’ll let you know if it’s swell.
Photos: Loney Dear @ The Horseshoe – July 8, 2012
MP3: Loney Dear – “Name”
MP3: Loney Dear – “My Heart”
MP3: Loney Dear – “Loney Blues”
MP3: Loney Dear – “Calm Down”
MP3: Loney Dear – “Maria, Is That You?”
MP3: Loney Dear – “D Major”
MP3: Loney Dear – “Largo”
MP3: Loney Dear – “Young Hearts”
MP3: Loney Dear – “Durmoll”
MP3: Loney Dear – “What Have I Become”
MP3: Loney Dear – “Ignorant Boy, Beautiful Girl”
MP3: Loney Dear – “Airport Surroundings”
MP3: Loney Dear – “I Was Only Going Out”
MP3: Loney, Dear – “I Am John”
MP3: Loney, Dear – “A Few Good Men”
Video: Loney Dear – “Loney Blues” (European)
Video: Loney Dear – “Loney Blues” (American)
Video: Loney Dear – “Young Hearts”
Video: Loney Dear – “I Was Only Going Out”
Video: Loney Dear – “Airport Surroundings”
Video: Loney, Dear – “I Am John”
Video: Loney, Dear – “Saturday Waits”
Stream: First Aid Kit – “Play With Fire”
Good news for Frightened Rabbit fans: the band’s fourth album is complete! Bad news: it’s not out until 2012. Good news: they’ll be releasing a new EP on September 25 to satiate your appetites. More good news: they’re also touring. Catch them at The Mod Club on October 10, tickets $21.50 in advance. Good news wins!