Published Apr 14, 2013Live, Rhye is laid bare. The veil of digital anonymity long uncovered, and band identity sleuthed out (namely by the duo outing themselves on Twitter), what's left is the music. Onstage in Toronto's Great Hall is Mike Milosh, and an immaculate five-piece ensemble (strings, brass, keys and percussion). "Don't know if you know this but this is my hometown," says Milosh to applause. Powered by Milosh's alto vocals and beats/arrangements by Danish producer Robin Hannibal (of Quadron notoriety and conspicuously absent on this tour), duo Rhye stand as a heady exploration of electro-soul by way of Sade. With lauded debut album Woman as the reference, Rhye posits that genre is broken — in its stead is a wholly osmotic approach to the disparate musical influences of the iTunes age. Much has been made of his "androgynous" vocal style, and tonight Milosh's upper-register vocals are indeed a revelation — sultry, studio-ready and a perfect counterpoint for Rhye's "mid-'80s, early '90s R&B" arrangements.
"The Fall" hits early in the set, the piano-driven piece sounding as it does on the album. "I know I'm vocalizing in this huge room but is it sounding alright?" queries Milosh to crowd approval. With only ten Woman tracks to choose from, the set lasts a shade under an hour. "We're going to make this song a bit longer as we don't have any more songs but I'm sure you know that," he says apologetically before launching into "Open." Woman is ambitiously orchestral in scope and the minimalistic backing band proved up to the technical challenge. Be it the bluesy guitar on "Shed Some Blood," the extended trombone solo for "Last Dance," and the impeccable strings accompaniment on "Major Minor Love," lush was the operative word. Closing things out, appropriately enough, was "It's Over," a ballad surprisingly not on the album. "Everything's so temporary, you should know…it's over, it's over," Milosh swoons as the band step away from their instruments and join in harmony, softer and softer in repetition until they fade into the night. Seeing Rhye live, you get it. The music is intended to stand on its own merit: image informs, not overrides. A short and seductive set.