Saturday, December 03, 2005

Don't Fail Me Now

concert review: The Magic Numbers w/ David Kitt @ Lee's Palace(Toronto, Ontario), December 1, 2005

The Magic Numbers w/ David Kitt at Lee's PalaceThis past Thursday night at Lee's Palace was the closing date of UK's The Magic Numbers' current North American tour. While I think many of their dates were as openers for Bright Eyes there was a palpable enthusiasm Tuesday night for both the band and the audience as The Magic Numbers were headlining this show. Opening the show was Dublin Ireland artist David Kitt. Going into the show I had no previous knowledge of him but I arrived just in time to catch the start of his set. Unassuming as he was on stage with just a guitar, I think alot of people didn't expect much from him because there was ALOT of chatting going on while he was performing. His music's quite fantastic in my opinion. I'd expected some sort of boring singer-songwriter shit but thankfully he took a more intelligent pure pop approach. I didn't know he was Irish but I caught hints of an accent that made me think he was British or from New Zealand(at times his songs reminded me of New Zealand pop artists like The Chills or The Bats). Switching from acoustic guitar to electric at one point, he turned up the volume on a couple of songs that reminded me of Ted Leo or Billy Bragg. I think he got the crowd's attention the most when he switched on the drum loops to back him up on several songs, giving those songs a fuller band sound. As a treat to the Toronto audience, The Magic Numbers backed up Mr. Kitt(as David mentioned, this was the first time they tried this) on his last song, a twang-inflected pop number which featured nice backing vocals from the 'Numbers.

While I'd only picked up The Magic Numbers' self-titled debut CD about a month ago and thought it was pleasant if sometimes inspiring pop music, I thought there was an aura of restraint on the album that I wasn't sure if they'd overcome in a live setting. I'm glad to say that the show was such an awesome experience. Their modest behaviour on stage combined with their sunny pop melodies translated into a likeable charm that the audience immediately latched onto. One female audience member who was so enthralled shouted something along the lines of "You're fuckin' awesome!""you guys are so fucking lovely!", half-jokingly followed with "you complete us!". The tune that followed was a new one which prompted Magic Numbers' Romeo Stodart to say to that excited audience member that "this song's obviously dedicated to you!" Playing songs off their self-titled debut, there were alot of highlights to choose from. My favourites were the pop swing of "Forever Lost", a sped up version of "Love Me Like You Do"(featuring the lovely background vox of Angela and Michelle), the twang-inflected bounce of "Long Legs" and the inspiring duet between Romeo and Angela of "I See You, You See Me", which when Angela took control of the vocals was such a goosebump-inducing experience. Angela Gannon has one of the best female vocals I've come across in recent years and I hope to hear more of it in the future. Not to be outdone, Michele's vocals, while not as polished as Angela's were still quite lovely especially on the repeated refrain of "don't fail me now" during the coda of "Love Me Like You Do". With the bits of melodica, tambourine, handclaps and (I think)xylophone interspersed throughout the set by Angela Gannon, as well as the energetic instrumental contributions from drummer Sean Gannon, bassist Michele Stodart and frontman/guitarist Romeo Stodart, The Magic Numbers breathed a breath of fresh air into their songs whose album versions were somewhat restrained in comparison.

The encore was a musical love-in that ranged from The Magic Numbers' now-familiar and enjoyable take on Beyonce's "Crazy In Love"(without the rap unfortunately), to a Pogues-ish romp which brought up opener David Kitt as well as 'Numbers crew members to the stage to join in the festivities, including their sound guy who played a mean harmonica. The band ended off the evening with The Magic Numbers' frontman Romeo, thanking the audience and encouraging everyone to join in on the chorus of "Wheels On Fire". It was a surprisingly mellow note to end on(especially, given the giddiness of their previous song) but in retrospect it was more than appropriate. The Magic Numbers aren't about being fashionable after all. And that in itself is the most refreshing thing about them. [photos from the show]
The Big Ticket started his thoughtful daily posting(til Christmas) of his top songs of 2005, including mp3's. Check out tracks 1 and 2, and 3 and 4 so far. There's some Canadian content within the first four tunes, including songs from The Constantines, Broken Social Scene and The Russian Futurists.

I noticed over at the Lee's Palace site that Los Angeles-based artist Inara George will also be included as part of the Nada Surf/Rogue Wave bill on March 11, 2006. I've previously said good things about her so I'll be tempted to check this show out.

Listen to a streaming live session of The New Pornographers on Club 3VOOR12(dutch radio) from November 30, 2005. [via Live Net Music]

chartattack reports that Sirius Canada will launch its satellite radio service with two concerts including one in Toronto at The Mod Club on December 6th. The show is suppose to feature Feist, Kathleen Edwards, The Trews and Ron Sexsmith. Looks like an industry event. Feist AND Kathleen under one roof...sigh.

View Magazine speaks with Sarah Harmer and the acoustic approach she's taken with her recent album "I'm a Mountain".

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