The Fiery Furnaces Mod Club Theatre, Toronto ON - September 12, 2004

No band in 2004 has divided listeners as much as the Fiery Furnaces. When sophomore effort Blueberry Boat (a tangent-heavy, rip-roaring sibling effort, smeared with sloppy blues-rock guitar riffs, wavering pianos and Eleanor Friedberger's unutterable chirping) was unleashed this summer, there was a surprising amount of praise, but also an equal sized backlash over the digressive music. However, nothing you read or heard could prepare you for the band's live show. The first whimsical note struck on the organ commenced what would become an all-out mash-up for the next 50 minutes. The constant seesawing of the set list made it difficult to determine where any of the songs began and ended, with the band playing like it was a race to the end of the gig, seeing if they could fit their entire catalogue into one performance. And the songs themselves suffered from schizophrenia, as Eleanor and her brother Matthew gave them new personalities, shifting tempos and changing keys. The punked-up "Tropical Ice-land" was miles away from the lullaby it appeared as on their debut album; split singles "Single Again" and "Evergreen" were slotted in like they were always part of the family; and "Quay Cur" book-ended the set, almost as if to show this really was one long song we witnessed. As Eleanor did her best Roger Daltrey and Matthew tackled Pete Townshend (with a little bit of Jon Lord and Rick Wakeman to boot), Toshi Yano impressively manned both bass and synth like John Entwistle with four hands and Andy Knowles mastered the non-stop bustle of Keith Moon, right down to the facial expressions and cheeky hand gestures. While this performance featured some superb examples of musicianship and timing, what was difficult to overlook was how this band never paused for even one second. But for all we know, when they left the stage, they carried those notes a cappella until they hit the next tour stop.