Opening up the evening's festivities were Halifax-based two-piece Cousins, who sounded more confident than ever while playing tracks from their recently released LP, The Halls of Wickwire. Those who'd previously witnessed the act during one of their early incarnations were in for a treat, as the group's drummer Leigh Dotey appeared to have brought a newfound precision to their reverb-laced garage rock thanks to her pummelling percussive accompaniment. Starting out with the tepid-turned-anthemic "Ocean," the band rattled through riff-heavy renditions of Wickwire tracks "Alone," "Other Ocean" and the bombastic boogie of "Phone." Although the band probably aren't ready to headline such a grand auditorium just yet, this certainly won't have been the last time you'll see guitarist Aaron Mangle and his partner on the Danforth Music Hall stage.
After a short break, the members of the Constantines came out to do some last-minute tuning and setups to their instruments, adding to the already communal and easygoing vibe in the building. Within minutes the group was jumping into old classics, kicking things off with Shine a Light standards "National Hum" and "Nighttime/Anytime (It's Alright)."
Anyone buying into the rumour that the band would be playing that album in full were either slightly disappointed or elated to hear the opening chords of their self-titled debut's "Young Offenders," which got the crowd fully singing along once Webb began belting out his Rod Stewart-lifted lyrics. The trip down memory lane continued with a high-octane "Hotline Operator" and "Working Full-Time" before unsung hero Steve Lambke took his turn at the mic for a rousing rendition of Kensington Heights contribution "Shower of Stones" (complete with heavy distortion).
Keeping the momentum going, the band ripped through two of their most popular hits, "Shine a Light" and "Young Lions," before keyboardist Will Kidman and bassist Dallas Wehrle showed off their effects pedal techniques with the peppy "On To You," propulsive "Trans Canada" and sludgy "Insectivora."
Perhaps most striking about the band's return to the live circuit is just how tight the crew has remained for spending a few years apart from one another. Drummer Doug MacGregor's performance on "Scoundrel Babes" gave it extra punch, while "Hard Feelings" and "Arizona" sounded even better than their original recordings.
Exhausting all of their hits early on in the evening clearly paved the way during the encore for a few deeper cuts, and the Cons did not disappoint. "Little Instruments" and the downtempo "Lizaveta" made appearances, as did low-key number "Hyacinth Blues," but the band saved perhaps the best for last with a cover of Lou Reed's "Temporary Thing." It was a subtle reminder that although the band are back together, moments like these are ultimately fleeting. One thing will always be certain, though: the Constantines are one of the most consistent Canadian rock bands of all time.
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