Concerts Concerts Viva Brother Are What They Are

Viva Brother Are What They Are

Viva Brother at Horseshoe Tavern
Viva Brother
Motopony
Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, ON
October 13, 2011

Photos and Review by: Pete Nema

English band Viva Brother is no stranger to criticism; they've received some harsh reviews for their debut album Famous First Words, partly due to the fact that their influences are brazenly apparent, but also as a reaction to the confident and heady comments the members have sometimes made during interviews and on stage.

When listening to Viva Brother it's easy to make mental comparisons to bands such as Oasis, Blur, and even The Beatles. Even so, the vocal melodies are captivating, the musicianship is strong, and despite the fact that their influences can be heard at every turn, it's difficult to not enjoy the music.

Viva Brother

If the members of Viva Brother have come across as arrogant in the past, they showed no sign of that on the Horseshoe stage. Confident, yes, but only at appropriate levels for the stage and crowd. In fact, the band, including Lee Newell (vocals, guitar), Josh Ward (bass), Samuel Jackson (guitar), and Frank Colucci (drums) worked the stage like many other young bands, playing the best they are able. Newell led the band through eight out of ten of the songs from Famous First Words, as well as "Shoot Like Lightning" which is the B-side to their "Still Here" single, and filling in the gaps between songs with mostly adept stage banter.

Although the band was able to create or, in some cases, improve upon the recorded music, unfortunately Newell seemed to be losing his voice progressively over the course of the set, visibily straining to hit notes starting in the sixth song (and my favourite from the album), "David." He was well aware, though, and aside from opting out of hitting some of the higher notes in his noticeably wide vocal range, he tried not to let it affect other aspects of his performance.

There may have only been enough people to lightly fill the Horseshoe, but the crowd didn't hang back from the stage, instead choosing to be right up at the front with the band. No matter where they were standing, fans of the band could be seen singing along to a good portion of the songs. The band may not be getting airplay in Toronto yet (that I'm aware of), but those who have discovered the music seem to have really connected. The single currently getting attention South of the border is the compelling "Darling Buds Of May" which was placed in the second last spot of the set, with the band closing out the night out with "Time Machine".

Given that this band hails from Slough in the U.K. (the location in which the original BBC version of The Office was set), it was excellent to see them stop in Toronto. There is most definitely a huge audience out there for them, critics be damned, if they can just get their music heard by the right people.

Info: Viva Brother
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Video: Time Machine

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Motopony

I arrived at the Horseshoe late in the evening, not knowing who was currently on stage. I stood back for half a song, but the band looked and sounded interesting enough to move forward. Up closer, the stage presence of the lead singer was unguarded, authentic, and above all else, endearing, driving me to open the camera bag and take some photos. It wasn't until the band left the stage, after completing a searing performance of a song called "Seer," that I discovered that I had just seen Motopony, a band from Seattle, WA.

Daniel Blue (vocals) really is an engaging performer, and the rest of the band consisting of Buddy Ross (keyboard), Brantley Cady (guitar), and Forrest Mauvais (drums) worked well together. I'm not sure when they will be back in Toronto, but they've played here twice in as many months, so hopefully we'll see them here again soon. Recommended.

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