Published Dec 12, 2015"We walked into this place thinking our friends would be there, and a guy yells at us, 'Alvvays, what's going on?' which happens sometimes," said Molly Rankin, lead lady of Alvvays at the Danforth Music Hall Friday night (December 11). "So we said we've been away for a while, working on a new record, and he says, 'Hurry the fuck up already!'"
That enthused but impatient encounter reflected the atmosphere of the room — fans of the Toronto-by-way-of-Cape-Breton band certainly drank up every tune off of their nearly flawless 2014 self-titled debut record, but when the band played three new songs, the excitement for it was palpable. It was a treat hearing new material.
Rankin was fantastic; her beautiful voice rang clear and strong, far better than when the band rolled into town around this time last year at the Opera House (Rankin's voice seemed strained, although it was the end of a lengthy tour for them). She sang through smiles during the entire set, as a projection of a white flag with the band's name waved behind them throughout the night. The crowd's cheers and applause grew louder as the night went on, confirming that Alvvays have secured themselves in the hearts of Torontonians.
The band snuck in a few covers here and there, including a lovely rendition of "He's on the Beach" by Kirsty MacColl, and their go-to cover of a Shop Assistants tune. "Archie, Marry Me" was the clear fan favourite, with a sea of phones held up filming or photographing, the chorus sung loud by the crowd. "Party Police" was gorgeous; Rankin and keyboardist Kerri MacLellan's harmonies were spot on during "Dives"; "Adult Diversion" was somewhat fumbled near the beginning, but the crowd adored it regardless. The encore had Rankin up on stage solo for "Red Planet," during which she looked like a seasoned karaoke vet, microphone in hand, bathed in appropriate red light.
"You know what I like about Alvvays shows? People don't get too wasted, people don't yell gross sexist stuff. Look at this! It's beautiful, harmonious," said Rankin, who aside from the odd comment from Alec O'Hanley was the only one keen on banter throughout the evening. There were moments that highlighted their charming, somewhat awkward demeanour, when dealing with requests shouted at them ("'Freebird'? Did I hear 'Freebird'? That's not in our repertoire") or after debuting a new tune ("That's the first time we ever played that song. You never want to preface with that, then people will wait for you to screw up").
Alvvays get better and better each time you see them; let's hope that, next time, they've got a new album in tow.