About six weeks ago, Mike Edel and Adrian Chalifour, vocalist and guitarist of opening act Towers and Trees, spent the day madly cycling around Victoria, delivering tickets to last night's performance at the Roxy theatre to anyone willing to purchase one via bike. That's not to mention the fact that it was pouring rain that day. Arrangements were made via Twitter and social media channels, and despite the lousy weather, Edel and Chalifour delivered.
That commitment to ticket dispersal is a perfect metaphor for the energy of their show at the Roxy Theatre last night. Both Mike Edel and Towers and Trees performed spectacularly.
Despite the high-energy performances, the crowd remained subdued. A few brave souls took to standing and dancing, but security quickly escorted them back to their seats. It's clear the Roxy is not the stand-and-dance kind of venue, which actually worked with Edel and Towers and Trees and their heartfelt acoustic-based songs, but definitely made the performance feel formal.
Towers and Trees opened the evening with great energy. Their sound and lyrics evoked images of the West Coast of Canada. At about the middle of the set, most of the band departed the stage, leaving Chalifour to perform a couple of solo songs. The band then reunited for a high-energy finish, blasting through "Montreal" from their debut album Broken Record and setting the stage for Mike Edel.
Edel started the set off solo, and on "Julia," the second song from his new album India, Seattle, he was joined by his band. Part of what made Edel so endearing was his articulate and charming banter throughout the performance. He shared extended stories about jokes he's shared with his father, including his dad's current favourite: "What do the titanic and the Leafs have in common? They both sink when they hit the ice." At times the show felt almost like a brief stand up comedy set.
He also offered poetic insight on making a record, and delved into his inspiration for many songs on India, Seattle, including an incredibly relatable (if you grew up in the prairies, anyway) story about his inspiration for "The Closer," a song about a rural baseball team's closing pitcher and a perfect game gone wrong.
Throughout the show, friends joined Edel on stage: Vince Vaccaro lent his voice and tambourine skills for a few songs, including the climactic anthem "The Country Where I Came From" released as a single from the album The Last of Our Mountains, and the New Pornographers' Kathryn Calder performed "East Shore West Shore" from India, Seattle with Edel. Calder is also releasing a new solo record shortly and the two quipped about sharing a release date.
Edel's West Coast charm and the way he weaves his personal experiences into his songs really made his performance outstanding. His music is relatable, and live, Edel often feels like an old friend.