Published Oct 17, 2013It was a big night for Nevado Records, the label that has signed the likes of Yukon Blonde and Royal Canoe, among others. It was Jordan Klassen's first show in Toronto since the release of Repentance, and he split the bill with the Great Bloomers' Tim Moxam, who was celebrating the release of his new EP, Blue Son. The combined force of Klassen and Moxam made for a night that never got too loud, but was nonetheless powerful.
The night began with a set by Emilie Mover, who graced the stage with just her acoustic guitar and expressive voice. Her folk-pop tunes were simple but rich, weaving lyrics about love and heartbreak into nature-inspired titles like "Mountainside" and "Fishes." She also played out a few covers, the nicest being a pretty rendition of Jorge Ben's "Chove Chuva." Her banter was also hilarious, ranging from topics like Brazilian waxes to why people enjoy shows like Grey's Anatomy.
Though the audience was small but enthusiastic for Mover, the room got a lot more crowded for Jordan Klassen. Considering the epic spirituality of Repentance, one might have expected him to lug around a huge band. Instead, just four people (including Klassen) more than made it work. The headliner was naturally the busiest man on stage, playing a different instrument on every song, including guitar, banjo, ukulele and keyboards.
Klassen and co. began with the banjo-plucking "Balcony," a song that worked well as an opener as it allowed each band member to come in sequentially, showcasing Jocelyn Price's wonderful vocal harmonies and keys, Simon Bridgefoot's at-times thunderous drumming and Mike Edel's subtle bass. The set's high note was a trio of songs beginning with Repentance's first single "Go to Me," all ukulele-led melody and powerful vocals from Klassen; "Sweet Chariot" was stripped down to its essence with Price and Klassen on vocals and Bridgefoot on keys; the feel-good chorus and spiritual backdrop of "The Horses are Stuck" capped it off.
Between songs, Klassen seemed alternately nervous or bursting with excitement — he could barely contain himself talking about a his new music, and he kept the energy going with other Repentance songs like the danceable "The Scribe of Doorposts" and the ominous "Ranchero" before ending with the Kindness EP track "Call and Answer."
Though Great Bloomers are soon to be defunct, Tim Moxam likely won't have any trouble getting his own music heard. The audience thinned a little after Klassen, but there was still a sizeable crowd, and all were excited for what Moxam had to offer. He had a huge backing band, consisting of six musicians, though not all played on stage at the same time. Backing his guitar was a double bass, two backup singers, a drummer, a violinist and a saxophonist.
Moxam began his set by playing his new Blue Son EP in its entirety, starting with the title track and ending with "Live in the Bedroom." The music tended to skew toward mellow folk-rock, something he joked about early on, saying that the band was going to "take it down" for most of the set. His songs took on added complexity thanks to his backing band, including two wicked saxophone solos and some wonderful vocal harmonies from his two backup singers, one of whom was Ivy Mairi.
His set was over perhaps a bit too quickly for his fans, who cheered for and quickly received an encore that Moxam, his drummer and his bass player performed to finish off the night.
See more photos from the concert here.