Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Clientele, Field Music @ Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (March 19, 2010)

The Clientele: photo by Michael Ligon
  The Clientele: photo by Michael Ligon

An English double-bill featuring prog-rock-pop practioners Field Music and the sparkling, approaching-on-twee pop of The Clientele took over the Horseshoe Tavern a week ago Friday (yes, and sorry for the lack of punctuality on this review). Although I was only casually familiar with both bands, I'd fully expected to be at least fully engrossed with headliners The Clientele whose pop sounds were up my alley, but in the end both bands failed to ignite any spark in me.

Openers' Field Music were interesting if anything, my previous live experience with them being offshoot The Week That Was fronted by Field Music's Peter Brewis who played Canadian Music Week in 2009. As with The Week That Was, Field Music pop music isn't straight-laced, instead choosing a more cerebral approach. Dare I say prog, but the melodies weren't so straightforward, and the rock instrumentation was multi-layered and intricate. The core of the group, brothers Peter and David Brewis, exchanged vox, guitar and drumming duties at times, with David taking reigns of keyboard duties. Not to say there weren't flashes of brilliance at times, but as a pop guy who usually likes his melodies of the infectious variety, Field Music were somewhat challenging. At the very least, it was refreshing to hear a band that could actually play their instruments well. The band's newest album "Field Music (Measure)" is out now.

London-based four-piece The Clientele were up next, the band comprised of Alasdair MacLean (vocals and guitar), Mark Keen (drums), James Hornsey (bass) and Mel Draisey (violin, keyboards, backing vocals and percussion). Over the course of their set, The Clientele illustrated a variety of pleasant pop sounds(jangle, pastoral chamber-pop, and even brandishing a bit of guitar rock) but therein lied part of the problem - it was all too pleasant sounding sometimes, to the point that during the course of the beer I was drinking, I was starting to fall asleep. If all their songs were performed with as much urgency as "Bookshop Casanova" for example I'd have imagined being more alert but that wasn't the case. Maybe it was just an off-night for me, perhaps still not having fully-recovered from the previous weeks Canadian Musicfest, as any of the studio recordings I'd heard from The Clientele I quite liked. Maybe it's just one of those bands where I'd rather listen to the record that see the band live. Oh, well. The band's most recent effort 2009's "Bonfires on the Heath" is out now.

Photos: The Clientele, Field Music @ Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (March 19, 2010)
MySpace: Field Music
MySpace: The Clientele
Video: The Clientele - "Bookshop Casanova" (music video)

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