Concerts Concerts Plants and Animals at The Great Hall

Plants and Animals at The Great Hall

Plants and Animals at The Great Hall
Plants and Animals
Suuns
The Great Hall in Toronto, ON
November 15, 2012

Review by: Lee Fraser
Photos by: Pete Nema

Plants and Animals strike a perfect balance for old and new fans at The Great Hall.

Plants and Animals

In its very early stages, the band Plants and Animals was centered around the musical genius of two guitarists and a drummer.  Favouring instrumental stylings and musical phrases that highlighted both their capabilities and their ear for intricate yet catchy phrasing, the band started off with a fan base consisting mainly of musicians and guitar aficionados.

The band has moved through an intriguing set of stages, though. On their first full length album, Parc Avenue, the band added vocals and allowed themselves the vulnerability of baring a bit of their souls through their lyrics. Their second record, La La Land, was a foray into more rock-based architecture spiced up with a touch of disco. Their most recent effort, The End of That, was a return to the intricate and artistic styles of their earlier days, which garnered the band popularity amongst an entirely new segment of the population.

As a result of this genesis, the show put on by Plants and Animals at The Great Hall in Toronto was well attended by fans both new and old. Since many of the new fans seem to be women, it was not all that surprising that the front of the stage was dominated by the fairer sex, and that one of them took it upon herself to hop up on stage and provide some entertainment. A consummate professional, Warren C. Spicer (guitars, vocals) very tactfully ushered her back off stage. Later in the show, Nic Basque (guitars) was seen nudging a few smart phones being used by young girls in the front row to text and update their friends about the cute guys on stage.

Audience antics aside, the band members were definitely having a great show themselves. The opening song, "Bye Bye Bye" featured Basque up in the balcony, strumming the auto-harp that was perhaps inspired by a performance they shared with Basia Bulat a few years ago. Over the course of the entire show, Matthew Woodley (drums) kept constant eye contact with his band mates, anticipating the extensions to solos, doing his part to add to the suspense of improvising on old favourites.

The set list was equal parts first and latest full length album, with only a couple of songs from La La Land thrown in. Beginning and ending the set with selections from Parc Avenue was greatly appreciated by long-time fans. Hearing "Mercy" performed live certainly brings back memories of earlier shows. But in a new twist, Plants and Animals experimented with looping on drums and vocals to put a new spin on some old favourites. All of their material is fuller and richer sounding with the addition of Eric Digras on bass. Judging by his facial expressions, he is feeling like the luckiest guy on the planet these days.

There was a great vibe all night. The set list was strong and the sound was spot on. The band gave the impression that they were on top of the world. For long-time fans, it was exactly the right ticket. For new fans, it was a show to place Plants and Animals into firm rotation.

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Suuns

I arrived at The Great Hall just as the opening act was taking to the stage. After double-checking that I had indeed arrived at the right venue, I turned my attention to the band that was transforming the venue into an Entertainment District nightclub. The Montreal band, Suuns, is comprised of four like-minded musicians who take a theme and crank out bass-heavy danceable songs. Surrounded by pedals, keyboards, gizmos and buttons, this is a band that creates all manner of soundscapes.

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