Published Oct 01, 2005The lights, a blanket of lush red, produced a silhouette of the full band's naked instruments alone on stage - shadows of silent keyboards, horns, drum sets and microphones. In a few minutes, somebody was going to produce some serious music. The packed crowd was ready to receive. Esthero that voice Toronto's prodigal daughter had returned. The swing-era clarinets from Wikked Lil' Grrrls began, and out of the shadows the Canadian vocal pioneer of trip-hop, jazz, hip-hop and Latin fusion slithered between her rhythm section onto centre stage. "I missed you so much you have no idea!" was her confession after she had finished performing the title track from her latest album. After a six-year hiatus, Esthero the seductress, with fiery red hair in a vintage black bustier and layered pearls, had some catching up and explaining to do. "I just wanted it to be right!" was her reason and she definitely came correct. She used "Wikked Lil' Grrrls" and "O.G. Bitch" to warm up the crowd. The full body of her band and her powerful voice came alive with the horn-heavy third song, "If the Mood," which is about Esthero using her sexual prowess against a rival. The song ended with her sassily purring into the microphone a cappella, "I fucked your boyfriend " Esthero's band, led by local hornsmith I-Sax, fused intros of selections from her first album into her current ones. "Breath From Another" became "Fastlane," which grew into a bossa nova jam session led by a fully energised Esthero, the dancing femme fatale, confident and defiant with a cigarette dangling between her sexy lips. Esthero's cool is just as effective as her heat, and down tempo selections like "Country Livin" and "My Torture" were chilling. It was a triumphant performance and a return from a tremendous artist.