Concerts Concerts How To Make a Deep Roots Rock Sandwich

How To Make a Deep Roots Rock Sandwich

Michou at Horseshoe Tavern
Michou, Brett Caswell
Pat Robitaille, The North
Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, ON
January 21, 2011

Review by: Amanda Macchia
Photos by: Pete Nema

The Horseshoe Tavern may have been a little more "pop" than usual this past Friday night, but sandwiched in between the lineup’s two musically more mainstream acts was an authentic reminder of just how deep rock’s roots are soiled.

Michou

The headliner of the night was Canada’s own Michou. The foursome knocked out song after song of great pop hooks, clean chords, and subtle synths to the attentive crowd. Although their sound seemed very produced and mainstream next to the earthiness of Brett Caswell’s, Michou still demonstrated that pop music can be passionate too.

The syncopated rhythms and backing vocals of tracks like "Missing Me Now" demonstrated the bright and easy-going style that Michou has mastered, and carry through to their recordings and live sets. The band expertly maintained their energy-level for the full duration of their set, as each successive song was performed with the same amount of agility as the one that preceded it. It's clear that beyond frontman Michael Hargreaves’s eyewear lies a band confident in its form, and is solid as a unit.

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Michou at Horseshoe Tavern   Michou at Horseshoe Tavern   Michou at Horseshoe Tavern   Michou at Horseshoe Tavern   Michou at Horseshoe Tavern   Michou at Horseshoe Tavern   Michou at Horseshoe Tavern   Michou at Horseshoe Tavern  

Brett Caswell & The Marquee Rose

Whoever thinks the best folk-rock and country sounds emerge from the rural regions of North America probably has yet to see Brett Caswell & the Marquee Rose in concert.

The Toronto-based Barrie native and the talented members of The Marquee Rose took over the Horseshoe Tavern with their raw instrumentation, rooted in country and folk influences. The Marquee Rose combined the wailing electric twang of Dave Murray’s guitar with the drawl of Nicole Clappison’s fiddle to achieve a sound authentic in its nature and entertaining in its delivery.

Caswell and his band took the raw energy and passion featured on their recordings and emphasized all of their finest elements onstage; their live show is colourful, rich, and explosive. The bluesy chromatics of "Needle in the Grove" were vivaciously driven home, while the bright chords of "L.O.V.E." were perfectly juxtaposed with the rich and raunchy backing vocals of the incredibly talented Carleigh Aikins.

Brett Caswell and The Marquee Rose at Horseshoe Tavern   Brett Caswell and The Marquee Rose at Horseshoe Tavern   Brett Caswell and The Marquee Rose at Horseshoe Tavern   Brett Caswell and The Marquee Rose at Horseshoe Tavern   Brett Caswell and The Marquee Rose at Horseshoe Tavern   Brett Caswell and The Marquee Rose at Horseshoe Tavern   Brett Caswell and The Marquee Rose at Horseshoe Tavern  

Pat Robitaille

Blue Mountain’s Pat Robitaille also gave Toronto a taste of his well-crafted pop-rock. Although his style does not allow for the same kind of energy and passion that was delivered during Brett Caswell’s onstage jam sessions later in the night, Robitaille’s set was still one interesting to watch. Starting things off by creating three loops of hand-clapping and snapping in his microphone, Robitaille demonstrated that fusing different elements of pop and folk to his rock vibe creates an appeasing easy-listening sound.

Pat Robitaille at Horseshoe Tavern   Pat Robitaille at Horseshoe Tavern   Pat Robitaille at Horseshoe Tavern   Pat Robitaille at Horseshoe Tavern   Pat Robitaille at Horseshoe Tavern   Pat Robitaille at Horseshoe Tavern   Pat Robitaille at Horseshoe Tavern  

The North

Opening the night was The North for which I didn't arrive in time, but Pete made it there to capture a few photos.

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The North at Horseshoe Tavern   The North at Horseshoe Tavern   The North at Horseshoe Tavern   The North at Horseshoe Tavern   The North at Horseshoe Tavern   The North at Horseshoe Tavern   The North at Horseshoe Tavern   The North at Horseshoe Tavern