Dakota Tavern, Toronto, ON, March 2
Billed as a showcase for new material written on their Canadian and European tours, McGrath and his three piece band — guitarist Peter Dreimanis and drummer Danny Miles from July Talk and bass player Clay Jones from the Mohawk Lodge — wasted no time, ripping into a handful of hard rockers to start the night's early set.
McGrath's howling vocal style made it difficult to hear many of his lyrics on this first listen, but the set's first salvo bore more resemblance to 2010's Peacemaker. What lyrics could be made out included several references to Canada, a favourite subject of the singer.
Clad in a black zip-up hoodie, McGrath thrashed about the small stage, turning to Miles while rocking in time with the music. The band, having spent the last couple months rehearsing these songs, played with fury, and it seemed a fair assumption that many of these tracks were written as a unit rather than McGrath on his own.
The set's middle section featured more mid-tempo rockers including a fantastic song McGrath said was "about R.E.M.," one that resembled Young Canadians' "Johnny Brought the Bottles Back" before building into a rager, and a third with the line "People gotta move on with their lives" in the chorus.
McGrath and co. ended their short appearance — they played for less than an hour — with three older tracks, including "Pain of Love" and "Signals," played with even more confidence than the already spritely new material.
Dreimanis revealed that the group hope to record these songs in a cabin sometime in the next few months. If McGrath's recent release of Pegasus, which included material that was eventually reworked for Young Canadians, is any indication, these songs could take completely different form from what was on display this night. But it's clear that McGrath has the makings of another great album on his hands.
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