Morcheeba Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver BC - February 4, 2003

Morcheeba Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver BC - February 4, 2003
With their smoky bass grooves, echo chamber accents and wink-wink moniker, Britain's Morcheeba has traditionally been lumped in with Bristol's weed-friendly trip-hop camp. While the group's sophomore LP, 1998's Big Calm, is surely one of the finest dinner party records known to man, Morcheeba's subsequent output has exposed the outfit for what it really is: a middle-of-the-road band whose AOR-ish tunes should erase any comparisons to Portishead or Massive Attack. Still, for those urban hipsters on hand for the band's recent Vancouver appearance, such issues mattered little. Singer Skye Edwards wove a hypnotic spell over the audience, expertly delivering Big Calm favourites like "Friction," "Blindfold" and "The Sea" over her mates' supple, if unspectacular, instrumental backing. The chanteuse was simply captivating, charming the pants off her faithful with humorous asides and graceful dance steps. Most impressively, she managed to hold the crowd's attention while the band worked its way through material from last year's forgettable LP, Charango. Late in the set, the band — comprised of a drummer, keyboardist, bassist, guitarist and a superfluous DJ — picked up the energy with a rousing cover of Dolly Parton's "Jolene," with Edwards infusing the tune with an emancipated optimism absent from the original. All in all, Morcheeba put on a jolly good show, a sultry lovers' rock concert just in time for St. Valentine's Day.