The Ruby Suns Drake Hotel, Toronto ON March 30

The Ruby Suns Drake Hotel, Toronto ON March 30
Maybe the full moon was involved, but a series of negative factors seemed to conspire to make this show a disappointment. Scheduled opening act Tori Y Moi was forced to cancel after being robbed in Brooklyn, while the competition in town from other shows (including the Temper Trap and Ruby Suns Sub Pop label-mates Beach House) resulted in a less than full house.

Things began promisingly enough, with a warm greeting from Ruby Suns main man Ryan McPhun followed by a soulful croon on a strong opening number. But by two songs in, he was hit with technical glitches (a broken guitar string and mic lead) that seemed to sap any momentum. This eventually led to a less than high-energy set, which McPhun tried to pass off on tour-induced sleep deprivation ("three to four hours ain't enough").

The show focused heavily on material from the Ruby Suns' fine new album Fight Softly, but tracks created primarily by McPhun alone didn't change or gain much in a live setting. He was joined onstage by a drummer and bassist/keyboardist, while he alternated between guitar, keyboards and occasional percussion. World music elements (a steel pan sample here, a Brazilian feel there) were integrated nicely with the electronic and pop stylings, though the near-omnipresent skittering beats obscured the subtleties of some songs. That's a shame, for when McPhun's warm neo-falsetto is wrapped around tunes as melodic as "Cranberry" and the Scritti Politti-like "Haunted House," the results are highly pleasing.

A crucial test for a live show is that it should add something you can't get from listening to an album at home. For this gig at least, the Ruby Suns failed to make a passing grade.