The Danforth Music Hall in Toronto, ON
March 3, 2014
Review by: Chad Hutchings
Photos by: Julie Lavelle
This past week, indie rock powerhouse Broken Bells played for an endlessly excited (and surprisingly civil) full floor at The Danforth Music Hall.
Standing in that full house made up mostly of 20 and 30-somethings, it was a little surprising to see just how well behaved all of those bodies were. The temptation is there to say it was reflective of the band's reserved ways, but with the lack of life coming from Broken Bells and their touring members on Monday, the fun on the floor really outshone the action on stage.
You see, Broken Bells doesn't put on a terribly engaging show. With half of the set passing before front-man James Mercer even spoke to the crowd, and an entire set passing before locomotion really came into play, it's safe to say that the artists didn't really do much to build on the music. Of course, none of their associated acts are really known for their wild stage shows. On the other side of the coin, though, these were artists that could put on a perfect show of their talents without really trying. Between Mercer's experience with The Shins, Brian Burton's work as Danger Mouse, and their bandmates' time on other successful projects, the group has acquired the kind of skills that don't need bells and whistles to make a mark.
The audience clearly felt the same way. Polite as they were, they showed an excitement that steadily hid the seeming disinterest coming from the act they came to see. Tracks like "Perfect World" and "The Ghost Inside" had fans tripping over themselves just to cheer, and the slightest sign of interest from the stage (a mention of the weather or a thank you in passing) was more than enough to make the floor roar.
And, through it all, the set was a series of sound successes. Hiccups were in tiny numbers, and the strongest punch of the night came from "Meyrin Fields", the aggressive track that Mercer introduced with "This might be my favourite song we ever did". With no surprise, Broken Bells played so cleanly that you'd believe the show was a broadcast of a studio recording. It's just too bad that the show didn't hold strong alongside the sound.