Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Broken Social Scene @ Harbourfront Centre (Sirius Stage) - July 11, 2009

Broken Social Scene @ Harbourfront Centre: photo by Michael Ligon

The cancellation of Broken Social Scene's Toronto Island show due to conflicting with the Honda Indy(and the band not wanting the noise from that to interfere with their music festival) may have been a blessing as the band ended up making up the date for fans with a free show at Harbourfront. The only other time they'd played a free show at Harbourfront was back in August 2004. A five year gap between those shows hardly constitutes a tradition but perhaps they can start one and play Harbourfront's main stage with a little more frequency. Harbourfront could barely contain the massive crowd that came out for the show last Saturday, so an annual or bi-annual show from them is probably out of the question, but if it takes them another 5 years to play Harbourfront again, let's just say I hope to be there.

Barely a week since last Saturday's show and my recollections of the show are like the best summer memories, a combination of memorable moments and blurry images. I was fortunate enough to get a photo pass for the show allowing me and small group of other photographers to shoot for the first 3 songs. Canadian film director Bruce McDonald was filming the show for posterity for a future concert film tentatively entitled "This Movie Is Broken" and is also inviting fans at the show to upload their own photos and video footage "to create a portrait of a hot July day in Toronto."

With the band returning to Harbourfront this warm summer evening after a five year absence since they first played the main stage, they took it as an opportunity for a reunion of sorts. The night was full of poignant, heartfelt and euphoric moments. More recently Broken Social Scene had been performing with the core group of Justin Peroff, Charles Spearin, Andrew Whiteman, Kevin Drew, Sam Goldberg and Brendan Canning and featuring guests like Julie Penner and Lisa Lobsinger(all who were in attendance that night) so it was a definite treat to see so many past members join them for this special evening. But rather than just emphasize the Broken Social Scene moniker, the spotlight was also given to various members' own projects. Three quartersHalf of Metric were in attendance with James Shaw on guitar, and Ms. Emily Haines joining in on vocals and one of the highlights of the evening was the stirring acoustic rendition of Metric's "Gimme Sympathy" with it's lyric "I can feel it in my bones" prompting an audience singalong. Mr. Evan Cranley from Star provided some nice trombone arrangements. Feist came out earlier and much to the glee of the photo pit (as some of us thought we'd not get the opportunity to photograph her up close during the first three songs) as she sung energetically during "7/4 Shoreline". Later, Leslie would break into her own "I Feel It All" for a few bars. Mr. Jason Collett seemed to be a particular favourite especially with his own tune "I'll Bring The Sun" which segued nicely into Guided By Voices' "Glad Girls" for a few bars, particular its lyric "And they're alright". Kevin Drew, Brendan Canning and Amy Millan also each contributed a song from their own respective projects to the night's setlist. However, it was the old faves that ruled the night.

Like old times Amy, Leslie, and Emily collaborated with stunning results on the goosebump-inducing "Anthems For A Seventeen Year Old Girl" as the trio swayed to the song's mantra-like chorus. The rockin' "Almost Crimes" was an adrenalin rush as usual. It was the encore that was the clincher of the night for many including myself. The summer-y instrumenal "Pacific Theme" was a definite mood setter creating a euphoric rush that most people didn't want to come down from. During the opening guitar strains of "KC Accidental", Kevin immersed himself into the front rows of the audience, not as a performer but to become part of the crowd in worshipping the band's musical prowess as he raised his arms towards his bandmates, before he jumped back onto the stage to begin the song's vocals. For all intentions, this seemed like the band's last song as Kevin thanked the crowd and the band walked off but to the audience chant of "one more song", they came back for an ecstatic rendition of "Major Label Debut". A stunning conclusion to a stunning evening. The memories of the evening may likely fade away but it's the good feelings which will remain. Thank God for Bruce Macdonald for filming the night for posterity. I plan to upload my photos of the night to Mr. McDonald's film website soon and I'm looking forward to the completed project which I can only hope will include a photo or two of mine.

Photos: Broken Social Scene @ Harbourfront Centre (Sirius Stage) - July 11, 2009

Fortunately someone's posted the setlist online. Thank you. And apparently there's some video footage from the night on YouTube but I'll leave it to you to search for the videos on your own.

MySpace: Broken Social Scene

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