Concerts Concerts Mister Heavenly at The Great Hall

Mister Heavenly at The Great Hall

Mister Heavely at The Great Hall
Mister Heavenly
The Great Hall
November 17, 2011

Review by: Chad Hutchings
Photos by: Julie Lavelle

The all-star trio introduces Toronto to indie rock's newest sound.

Bearing gear boasting the titles of other successful pursuits, indie rock supergroup Mister Heavenly hit Toronto last week as they pressed through a tour spanning North America and Europe.

Made up of Man Man frontman Ryan Kattner, Nicholas Thorburn of Islands and The Unicorns, and Joe Plummer of Modest Mouse and The Shins, Mister Heavenly released their debut album in August – an experimentation in a sub-genre they've dubbed "Doom Wop" (the disquieting "Harm You" is a good example of the blend, with simple doo-wop harmonies layered with ominous undertones that would fit just fine in an eerie video game). While reviews of the album have been mixed when measured on the sliding scale of their other acts, the group's release is an undeniably solid work unto itself - well-performed, well-polished, and shining brightly despite the fact that the three don't seem to take the whole thing terribly seriously. In media contact, marketing, and presentation, all tongues seem to be in their respective cheeks concerning the act that came together with a self-proclaimed "what the hell" attitude in every aspect.

That attitude is a big part of what makes Mister Heavenly so damned great on-stage. When the three made their appearance on Wednesday, having fun seemed to be high on the list of priorities. They got rowdy, they got silly, they told jokes about parents texting and SARS... they were full of life. But, all the while, the fun never got in the way of what was a stellar display of the trio's skills. Kattner's vocals were heady and his keyboard was thunderous; Thorburn's voice was unfaltering while his guitar was elegant; Plummer's work behind the drum kit was complex and inspired. And unsurprisingly, given each artist's storied history in the scene, the group seemed wildly comfortable on-stage - comfortable enough, in fact, to play a song they'd written just hours earlier.

For their part, the audience didn't let the effort go to waste. The 50's sock-hop harmonies kept the group dancing unabashedly at the front of the stage, while the darker, more complex layers of the experiment kept the aficionados in the audience in check and visibly impressed. Reactions were strongest during highlighting performances of the marching "Reggae Pie", the sunny "Pineapple Girl", and the powerful "Bronx Sniper", but the entire set was performed as terrifically as if it were its own highlight reel; it was a great show from a collective that's been impressing us in countless manifestations for as long as this writer can remember.

Mister Heavely at The Great Hall   Mister Heavely at The Great Hall   Mister Heavely at The Great Hall   Mister Heavely at The Great Hall   Mister Heavely at The Great Hall   Mister Heavely at The Great Hall   Mister Heavely at The Great Hall   Mister Heavely at The Great Hall   Mister Heavely at The Great Hall   Mister Heavely at The Great Hall