Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Everything Is Everything

concert review: Phoenix w/ Dogs Die In Hot Cars, Joy Zipper @ The Opera House(Toronto, Ontario), April 8, 2005

Phoenix at The Opera House(April 8, 2005): photo by Mike LigonOn the strength of the song "Too Young" off the "Lost In Translation" soundtrack as well as all the good press I've been reading about Phoenix, I decided to check out the show at The Opera House last Friday night. Honestly, I only bought Phoenix's CD "Alphabetical" a couple of weeks ago and have only had a chance to sample some of it. My first impressions of it were good; sort of a funk-soul-pop hybrid that, to compare Phoenix to two fellow French artists, gave me the impression of them being musically somewhere between Air and Tahiti 80.

I missed Joy Zipper, but the consensus seems to be that they weren't that good anyway. I did catch second openers from Scotland, Dogs Die In Hot Cars. I still think it's a terrible band name, by the way. Their bouncy guitar pop, fleshed out with equal amounts of vigorous keyboard arrangements, was enjoyable. They're refreshing in their unpretentious sound. They continue along the lines of great Scottish pop tradiion, but build on that with a more quirky sound. I read over at IDEASFACTORY that their debut CD was produced by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, the duo behind classics by Dexys Midnight Runners, XTC, and Madness and yes I can really hear the influences in DDIHC's music. They're a young band, and some of their songs weren't quite on target, but I'd be interested in seeing what direction they take next.

The straight and narrow pop of Dogs Die In Hot Cars led into the cool soul-groove-pop of headliners, France's Phoenix. Their music's a great intoxicating mix of organic and electronic sounds primarily based on the conventional guitar, bass guitar, drums arrangement, but every now and then throwing in flourishes of cool electronic percussive sounds and warm electronic keyboards. I heard bits of Bee Gees as well as Stevie Wonder within Phoenix's grooves. Rather than replicate the songs off their album, often times the band delved into extended jams. The band turned up the guitars for "I'm An Actor" but the music mostly lingered within a breezy, soulful,pop terrritory perfectly matched with the lead singers cool suave vocals. The lead singer sauntered up to the edge of the stage at times to rouse up the energy of the crowd and the crowd was only happy to oblige by enthusiastically dancing or bobbing their heads. During the encore, the lead vocalist and the guitarist performed a stirring acoustic rendition of "Everything is Everything". All I can say about Phoenix's music is that it's totally refreshing music for the soul. [photos from the show]

For other reviews of the show, check out 10:51am Toronto and Chris Barr: Blog

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