Reviews:: Memphis @ the Media Club in Vancouver

Torquil, Chris Dumont and the rest of Memphis took the stage @ the Media Club last night, walking silently resembling a jazz sextet about to play on pass the hat night. Amongst a myriad of horns, drum brushes, rhythm makers and surprisingly formal attire, the band also featured one other important possession: huge smiles.

As the band led off with the first track to the new album (I Dreamed We Fell Apart, you noticed how happy the six men were to be playing their music. Resembling a crooner or the star in a musical more than a front man for one of the hippest bands in Canadian Indie pop, Torquil was animated, passionate and delightful. The band, almost as if there was no one else in the room, played off each other, laughing contently for the majority of the set. The free form of the songs added even more life to the songs.

The majority of the set was made up of new material from the new album A Little Place in the Wilderness, which suited me fine as the material was all written about and in Vancouver which added even more intimacy to the set. Unlike the muted beauty of the record, the live set had much more variety and depth. The brushed drums and horns really gave a jazzy feel to a lot of the songs, and Torquil really worked out his pipes, showing range and power that I’m not sure I’d ever heard before without being at a playhouse. The jazzy skat of the album version of Incredibly Drunk on Whiskey turned into an uptempo, energetic swinging number that saw the crowd start dancing along. The single – which should be debuting on youtube in a few days - I’ll Do Whatever You Want became a thunderous cymbal crashing sing-along.

The crowd was made up of Stars fanatics and hometown friends, which would account for the distinct division of the two sides of the bar. The front hung on every word, while the back chattered noisily, almost over top of the band. Somehow though, Torquil controlled the crowd, inducing a sit down for the breathy spoken word track, Ghost Story and finger snaps and hand claps for the upbeat numbers (although when asking for silence to sing a song for his wife The Night Watchman, people simply ignored him and kept on talking).

This was a surprising set; rich in variety, energy, style changes and smiles. For a Thursday night, I can’t think of much I’d rather be apart of.

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