Replicating brilliance of recorded album at your live show is a tough ask. Isn’t that why Madonna doesn’t sing live? In the case of The Barr Brothers, the complexity of their recordings is just an extension of who they are as a performing band. A sold out Lee’s Palace got to bask in their brilliance this past Thursday.
Labeling openers AroarA as alternative would be very indolent. The Montreal-based duo Ariel Engle and Andrew Whiteman morphed words of Alice Notley’s book ‘In The Pines’ into faux-folk songs with layers of beats, melodies, and quirky effects. There was no hint of monotony as no song sounded the same. Engle and Whiteman’s vocal chemistry attributed to the hypnotizing performance, as the crowd became equally invested in the material as the leads on stage. Leslie Feist doing some guitar work on couple of numbers was a sweet bonus.
When the ratio of instruments on stage far exceeds the performers, makes you wonder how well they will mesh together. Yet, within the first few moments of the first song, ‘Sleeping Operator’, the unified sound cleared away all reservations. Brad Barr’s subdued nature somehow exemplified his brilliant guitar play. Chalk that to the power of quiet confidence. Not to be outdone, Sarah Page’s harp resonated more in the quieter numbers like ‘Deacon’s Son’ or ‘Come in the Water’. You had the urge to close your eyes and let the gentle harp sounds direct your sensory journey. The supporting cast got their time in spotlight during the louder numbers like the abrasively infectious single ‘Half Crazy’ or the midtempo oldie ‘Beggar in the Morning’. Even though the set was bordering 2 hours long, the sweaty Toronto faithfuls kept yearning for more. The thirst for brilliance seemed insatiable.
Towards the end, Boston-native Brad Barr announced that he and his brother Andrew (drummer) recently became Canadian citizens. The crowd cheered on, like a family, proud to call them one of our own.
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