Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Toronto, ON
February 21, 2014
Review by: Melissa Adamson
Photos by: BGC
Band of Horses is touring in support of Acoustic at the Ryman, a live compilation of their best material.
Band of Horses
Trekking to the the Queen Elizabeth Theatre is never easy but despite the bitter cold, the lure of great acoustics and an intimate performance from a well loved band drew a crowd that filled the theatre.
The night started on a warm note as Ben Bridwell (lead vocals) casually strolled on stage to play a solo version of "St. Augustine." The crowd hushed immediately and took in the beauty of his vocals as they filled the room effortlessly. As each band member gradually joined Birdwell throughout the first few songs you could hear the crowd begin to buzz with excitement. The band took it all in stride and once all members had joined Birdwell the group casually took a seat in the antique chairs placed across the stage.
With a rug, a few lamps and amps resting on chair around the group it felt as though we had been invited into a friend’s house for a band rehearsal. As informal as the stage set-up was, the band was even more relaxed. Often they would sit and talk about which song to play next as they tuned their instruments and chatted playfully with each other and made jokes such as, “but that one sounds so much like the last.”You could tell they were there to have fun and deliver an intimate performance of their best material to their biggest fans.
The simple set-up was perfect to highlight the band's laid-back sound and you would have expected a quiet and appreciative crowd for the intimate performance but unfortunately that was not the case. With each song the crowd became more rowdy, yelling a mix of rude comments and requests at the band. While some of us sat silently and cringed, the yelling only seemed to only encourage more heckling from others. By the second half of the set people were yelling out mid-song and encouraging cheers and whoops from their equally obnoxious supporters. Though it did become uncomfortable at times, the band was incredibly gracious. They would play along with the hecklers or come back with a swift and sarcastic comment like, “sounds like your mayor is in the audience tonight.”
Despite the belligerent crowd Band of Horses managed to deliver a pristine set. Stand out songs of the night were “The Funeral”, “No One’s Gonna Love You”, “Is There a Ghost” and “Detlef Schrempf.” “The Funeral” was particularly powerful as due to problems with his guitar Birdwell had to perform without it and ended up standing up passionately leaning into the microphone to deliver flawless vocals that were powerful enough to help drown out the crowd. Birdwell’s warm vocals were a real highlight of the night and the band’s harmonies stood out front and centre.
Acoustic at the Ryman is a fantastic live recording of some of the band's best material and I recommend you give it a listen if you missed them while they were here or if you had trouble hearing them over the crowd.