Concerts Concerts Hey Rosetta! Showcase New Album

Hey Rosetta! Showcase New Album

Hey Rosetta! at Lee\'s Palace
Hey Rosetta!
Gramercy Riffs
Lee's Palace in Toronto, ON
February 23 and 24, 2011

Review by: Lee Fraser
Photos by: Pete Nema

Only a week after the release of their latest album, Hey Rosetta! played two sold-out shows at Lee's Palace. Add The Gramercy Riffs to the bill and Toronto was treated to some Newfoundland heat at the end of winter.

Hey Rosetta!

The lights dim and a quiet track pipes in through the speakers. It sounds familiar. It's "Basement" from Hey Rosetta!'s new album, Seeds. As the song progresses, members of the band slowly emerge onto the stage in the darkness and gradually join in to build the track's intensity. Finally, Tim Baker (vocals, guitar, keyboard) enters, contributing to the peak of the crescendo by smashing cymbals. Just as on the album, "Downstairs" gives way to the opening lyrics of "Welcome" and the crowd goes wild.

Hey Rosetta! re-created the rich, textured melodies from the incredible third album in their live performances with Phil Maloney on drums, the phenomenal Josh Ward on bass, Adam Hogan on guitar and Baker's powerful vocals and multi-instrumentalism. Cellist Romesh Thavanathan also juggled the guitar and organ, while Kinley Dowling, usually on violin, played viola and xylophone. Rounding up the string section was Brooke Stewart on violin, an addition to the line-up for this tour (and hopefully beyond).

Seeds was released nine days prior to Hey Rosetta! hitting the stage for the first of two sold-out performances at Lee's Palace. After listening to the new album countless times, seeing these songs performed live was a whole new experience. Some of the new repertoire was introduced during their previous tour, which made the band flawlessly tight on songs like "Welcome", "Seeds" and "Young Glass". The set list was slightly altered between the nights, and on Thursday the band managed to squeeze in "Lions For Scottie" unplanned and without compromise. Although older material was scattered throughout the night, equally exuberant clapping and singing welcomed the new material. There's definitely evidence that these seeds have planted themselves firmly in the minds of Hey Rosetta! fans, just as the band had hoped.

A highlight of Wednesday's show was the sweet chorus of "Bandages" sung by the audience, which garnered much appreciation from Tim. Another memorable moment from both nights, which I think will become a crowd favourite, was the interesting percussion break in "Seeds", as each member layered various rhythms using everything from snare drums to two-by-fours, with the pregnant pause providing ample time for wild cheering. But truly, low points did not exist during either night. The first chord of every song brought a smile to my face, and the energy and passion of this band make every song a spirit-lifting experience.

Hey Rosetta! continue touring across North America before heading off to Australia to support City and Colour. Never fear, though, they will return soon to check on how Seeds is being nurtured by their fans. And as fans, we can all look forward to the evolution of the live versions of this new material and more concert-going bliss.

Hey Rosetta! at Lee\'s Palace   Hey Rosetta! at Lee\'s Palace   Hey Rosetta! at Lee\'s Palace   Hey Rosetta! at Lee\'s Palace   Hey Rosetta! at Lee\'s Palace   Hey Rosetta! at Lee\'s Palace   Hey Rosetta! at Lee\'s Palace   Hey Rosetta! at Lee\'s Palace  

Gramercy Riffs

Since early last year, we Torontonians have been fortunate enough to see The Gramercy Riffs perform in all of our favourite spaces on a fairly regular basis. Still, it was a treat to see them open for fellow Newfoundlanders, Hey Rosetta!. Lee's Palace was close to capacity by the time the Riffs took to the stage and played their set as if they were the headliners. Lee Hanlon (vocals, guitar) and Mara Pellerin (vocals, keys) exchanged lead vocals, feeding off each other and the adoring fans singing along from the pit.

It's apparent that there's good rapport between the bands and that this cross-Canada tour will be a great experience for the Riffs. Mara managed to get some breakfast suggestions for Thunder Bay from the crowd, pointing out on the first of the two nights that they've never been further west than Toronto. The Riffs thanked Hey Rosetta! repeatedly, and on the second night seemed to be genuinely surprised when Tim and the entire band joined them on-stage for their high energy final song "Come Home Darlin'". In a much more planned turn of events, Mara joined Hey Rosetta! both nights for their rendition of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time".

The next best thing to catching a live show in Newfoundland is to catch the Riffs playing here in our own city. The band always manages to draw out a healthy contingent from the Rock and a good time is always had by all. You can catch The Gramercy Riffs play The Garrison for JunoFest on March 26th.

Gramercy Riffs at Lee\'s Palace   Gramercy Riffs at Lee\'s Palace   Gramercy Riffs at Lee\'s Palace   Gramercy Riffs at Lee\'s Palace   Gramercy Riffs at Lee\'s Palace