Sunday, March 30, 2008

Rebel With The Ghost

concert review: Sons and Daughters, Bodies of Water @ Lee's Palace (Toronto, Ontario), March 26, 2008

Sons and Daughters at Lee's Palace: photo by Michael Ligon

God love those Scots. You'd never have guessed by their pale exterior that Scotland's Sons and Daughters were fresh off a stint at SXSW in Austin, Texas but there's no doubt they brought some heat of their own to Toronto when they stopped in for a show at Lee's Palace last Wednesday because it turned out to be a scorcher. As Chromewaves accessed, the healthy enough(though not packed audience) seemed to be the established fanbase and not new converts like himself, and I would no doubt put myself in the former. By my count this was the fourth time they've come to Toronto and the fourth time I've seen them live.

Promoting their latest disc "The Gift", but also delving into their older material as well, Sons and Daughters delivered a set that proved their ferocity as a live act in particular in the rockabilly-punk guitar licks of pompadoured guitarist Scott Paterson and the expressive, snarling vocals and posturing of vocalist Adele Bethel. While bassist Ailidh Lennon was fighting a flu that drew an 'awww' from the crowd when Adele mentioned it, Ailidh played on like a trooper and was gracious enough to accept a tissue from an audience memer standing near the stage. Drummer David Gow took up the rhythm section with vigor. To get back to Adele, dressed in short purple shorts and a sparkly gold top, her energetic presence on stage is as exhilirating as one can expect from a frontperson, and really she puts many other band vocalists to shame(male and female). In one word, sexy.

The new album "The Gift" is somewhat more polished than their debut "The Repulsion Box" but live songs like "Gilt Complex" and "Rebel With The Ghost" were as fierce as anything they've ever done, and still maintaining a hummability that made it all the more better. The highlights of the older material had to be "Dance Me In"(preceded with some banter about Leonard Cohen's "Dance Me To The End of Love" if I recall correctly) and "Johnny Cash"(who the singer/songwriter for which the song was named as well as Bob Dylan were Adele's father's two favourite musical artists as she told). I've mentioned in the past the description of "swagger and melody" in relation to Sons and Daughters(and also to UK band The Duke Spirit) - hmmm, swagger-pop? How does that sound as a genre name? "The Gift" is as good a representation of that sound as you can get.

The young Californian four-piece Bodies of Water were unknown to me prior to that night and I'd initially imagined something quiet and folky along the lines of Great Lake Swimmers. Not the case at all. The set was a pastiche of musical influences, one song somewhat different from the next. Arcade Fire-like group vocal dynamic, B-52's-ish new wave funk, and tex-mex guitar licks were just a few influences touched on. While this might sound a bit schizophrenic, their sound is actually more cohesive than that. It's pop music at it's base, sometimes dramatic and other times straight ahead, and in the case of their 'hit'(and set-closer) "These Are The Eyes" both of these things within the span of the same song. I was quite smitten with the energetic vocal performance of Meredith who even while she played the keyboards, managed to emote every vocal phrase with a gaze over the audience or an expression on her face which made her a pleasure to watch.

Photos to come. I've been lazy lately. Update: Photos now up.

More reviews/photos from the show over at Chromewaves, Condemned To Rock n Roll and Can't Hear You.... Thanks to Can't Hear You... for pointing the way to the video clip below.

Video: Sons and Daughters - "House In My Head" (live at Lee's Palace - March 26, 2008)

MySpace: Sons and Daughters
MySpace: Bodies of Water

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