AroarA Cameron House, Toronto ON, May 8

AroarA Cameron House, Toronto ON, May 8
Photo: Atsuko Kobasigawa
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Even on paper, the early performance slot for AroarA seemed incongruous; Andrew Whiteman's rep as an elder statesman of Canadian indie rock is well established, and his collaboration with singer Ariel Engle, which brings to life the writings of Alice Notley's poetry collection, In the Pines, produced a stunningly beautiful debut. Undeterred, Whitman and Engle performed songs from that record as a duo, backed by a Roland SP404 sampler before inviting "friends" Don Kerr and Leslie Feist on stage.

Whiteman admitted many of the songs had never been performed with live drums before, and Kerr added another musical layer to an already intricate performance. Feist thrashed away at a battered acoustic guitar on several numbers, adding high-pitched backing vocals. But it was her duet with Engle on "#14" that served as the performance's peak. Their voices are shockingly simpatico, with neither performer overshadowing the other. "I was born to be your poet" they repeated, mantra-like, as they reached across Whiteman to join hands. This was easily one of CMW's best moments.

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