Nathan Lawr & the Minotaur Orchestra The Music Gallery, Toronto ON - March 18, 2004

Nathan Lawr & the Minotaur Orchestra The Music Gallery, Toronto ON - March 18, 2004
Held in the absolutely breathtaking Music Gallery at the St George the Martyr church in downtown Toronto, show-goers crowded into the pews to experience Nathan Lawr's bold new orchestral experiment. A small suit-clad army took to tympanis, vibes, pianos, strings, horns and guitars, with Lawr at the fore, showcasing songs from his self-released debut. Though Lawr and his songs are the obvious focal point of the ensemble, kudos should be given upfront to vibraphone player Paul Aucoin, who arranged Lawr's compositions for the orchestra. Aucoin should be praised for his attention to texture, pitting moody strings and muted horns against Lawr's efficiently simple pop songs. Lawr's recruits (many of whom you'd recognise from appearances with various other local bands) performed as one solid entity, building a wall of sound both restrained and saturated. Starting things off with "Barking At Your Door," likely Lawr's most infectious work, the 13-song set moved along at a stable, comfortable pace. After playing a new song just because he felt like it (it wasn't listed in the program — yes, there were programs), Lawr led his band into the final stretch, producing the night's two obvious highlights. The dynamic pulse of "That Moment" and the bluegrass romp of "We Go Down" (showing us that former Rockets Red Glare bassist Jeremy Strachan should play the guitar more often) wrapped up an impressive showing of Lawr's extravagant vision. The real reason this night was so effective, outside of the ensemble's considerably strong performance, was the feeling that those in attendance were all witness to something special and rare. Professional, personal and neatly packaged, it was certainly a treat to spend a night in the Minotaur Woods.