The Burning Hell

Masonic Lodge, St. John's NL, April 26

The Burning HellMasonic Lodge, St. John's NL, April 26
Photo: Vish Khanna
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Homecoming heroes (sort of — they're from Peterborough, ON, and members have been in Germany for a while, but members Mathias Kom and Ariel Sharratt helped found Lawnya Vawnya) the Burning Hell took the stage to a hyped Sunday afternoon set, starting with "Grown-Ups."

After bassist Nick Ferrio expressed fear that he might step on a child — this was an all-ages show, and ran the gamut from very young to very old — they began "Holidaymakers," on which Sharratt's clarinet provided ornate little melodies and Kom, Ferrio, Sharratt and drummer Jake Nicoll sung in unison, harmony and around and against each other as the song spiralled upward to its climax.

The Burning Hell are expert musicians, but onstage, more than with other bands, there's a palpable sense of friendship that comes first. It made for a contagiously enthusiastic set that fired up the crowd, who packed in close to the stage to celebrate with the band. It had been, Kom noted, half a year since the band had played together, but that wasn't apparent in their playing.

"Barbarians" was particularly energetic, as the crowd danced, Ferrio and Nicoll exchanged grins and Sharratt provided a clarinet approximation of an ambulance siren. They played one slow song, "Everything You Believe is a Lie," on which Kom's weighty baritone and Sharratt's smoky alto played against each other as the crowd swayed and guitarist Darren Browne whipped out a killer solo and then some humorous, "sexy" noodling. It ended perfectly, as the crowd sung softly along to the closing harmonies.

They invited collaborators onstage for a sax-and-trombone-driven stomper (and for the latter half of the set), highlighting both the collaborative nature of the band (Kom encouraged applause after the trombone solo) and their adaptive sound.
 
"Pirates" featured a set of lightning-fast solos as the crowd moved their feet, trying in vain to keep up with the tempo, and "Amateur Rappers" was as wordy and sharp as usual. They ended with a hilarious, slide whistle-featuring cover of "Frolic" by Italian composer Luciano Michelini — you might recognize it better as the Curb Your Enthusiasm theme — and a song "very near and dear to [the band's] hearts," "I Love the Things That People Make."

If Lawnya Vawnya is about music, community and love, then the Burning Hell are perfect standard bearers; their performance was a stirring mix of all three.
 
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