Concerts Concerts Plants and Animals, Karkwa bring Montreal Showmanship to Toronto

Plants and Animals, Karkwa bring Montreal Showmanship to Toronto

Plants and Animals at Lee's Palace
Plants and Animals
Karkwa
Lee's Palace in Toronto, ON
March 5, 2011

Review by: Lee Fraser
Photos by: Michelle Cortese

Plants and Animals delight the crowd with both new material and old favourites, while Karkwa gains new fans.

Plants and Animals

The opening songs set the stage for this Plants and Animals show: Warren C. Spicer (guitars, vocals) explained that the first song was a new one called, "Twenty Ten", which was followed by an old song, "Feedback in the Field". About half of the set was from their fabulous full-length, debut album Parc Avenue. There were about five new songs, each of which were catchy and showed the continued maturing of this Montreal three-piece band. Surprisingly, only three songs were from their latest effort, La La Land.

Warren apologized early on that they were feeling bad about their last show in Toronto (The Opera House, June 24, 2010), that they weren't "on their game". Although the band did well in representing the new album at last year's show, the show at Lee's Palace had more evidence of the camaraderie of three great musicians playing their hearts out. As always, watching Nic Basque master multiple guitars and a battery of pedals is entertainment enough. Matthew ‘the Woodman’ Woodley rounds out the trio on drums. Since Nic and Warren are most frequently playing guitar, they have rigged the sound board to provide the bass line. The quality of music that these three guys create live is truly impressive.

A highlight of the evening was the well-coordinated collaboration by both bands on the Plants and Animals tune "Bye Bye Bye", a song which lends itself to a large chorus. More than just joining the headliners on mics, though, Karkwa added keys, a tom and Louis-Jean Cormier on guitar. Warren noted that Karkwa sounded great performing this song during sound check; the result was a very powerful final song of the set.

Plants and Animals returned to the stage for a short encore, including another new song, a ballad about heartbreak, living and learning. The final song of the evening was the sweet and ethereal "Faerie Dance".

Plants and Animals will finish their cross-country tour in Montreal on March 11th and will head into the studio in April. Since they are a musically gifted trio with no shortage of creativity, we can expect more of the quality and variety of music they've produced to date.

Plants and Animals at Lee's Palace   Plants and Animals at Lee's Palace   Plants and Animals at Lee's Palace   Plants and Animals at Lee's Palace   Plants and Animals at Lee's Palace   Plants and Animals at Lee's Palace   Plants and Animals at Lee's Palace   Plants and Animals at Lee's Palace   Plants and Animals at Lee's Palace   Plants and Animals at Lee's Palace  

Karkwa

Karkwa's set began with a moody, percussive piece. Louis-Jean Cormier (guitar, vocals) played the pedal steel guitar, frequently making eye contact with François Lafontaine on keys. The rhythm section of Martin Lamontagne on bass and Stéphane Bergeron on drums was augmented by a set-up of floor toms, cymbals and other percussion toys played with gusto by Julien Sagot. Although Karkwa was pretty much unknown in English Canada until they won the Polaris Music Prize last year, the same five guys have been building their fan base in Québec for more than a decade.

The crowd’s energy ramped up as Karkwa moved through their set with energy, enthusiasm and percussion. It was apparent that there were small pockets of Karkwa fans, singing along and hollering between songs. Plants and Animals fans seemed to take it all in, processing what they were witnessing. Louis-Jean made a few references to their continued exposure to English-speaking crowds, struggling at times to explain himself, but winning us over with his earnestness. Towards the end of the set, Louis-Jean admitted to being nervous about playing a well-known cover for the first time to Anglophones, "Dance Me to the End of Love" by Montreal poet/musician Leonard Cohen.

By the last song of the set, "Oublie Pas", everyone was bobbing their heads and humming along. There was almost an aura that this was no opening act; we were treated to two headliners in one night. In any case, there's no doubt that Karkwa gained some new fans at this show.

We'll get a chance to see them again on Friday, March 11 at Wrongbar, as part of Canadian Music Fest.

Info: Karkwa
Connect: MySpace, Facebook, Twitter
Video: Le Pyromane

Karkwa at Lee's Palace   Karkwa at Lee's Palace   Karkwa at Lee's Palace   Karkwa at Lee's Palace   Karkwa at Lee's Palace   Karkwa at Lee's Palace