Published Dec 14, 2009Zero 7's leading female vocalist Sophie Barker has a robust yet dreamy quality to her singing style that would have made the opera heroine Maria Callas nervous. Coupled with her antique, hand-pumped organ at her hip, Barker filled Vancouver's Commodore with sweeping soundscapes that lulled the audience into a soulful trip-hop experience.
Kicking things off with a pseudo-Pink Floydian instrumental montage, the UK-based Zero 7, made up of core members Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker, delivered a surprisingly relaxing and inspiring show on one of the coldest Vancouver nights this year. Chill and contemplative, the audience opened up to the calmness within the chaos, offering an occasional cloud of marijuana over to the stage.
Acclaimed for their ambience and introspective lyrical elements, Zero 7 made their set sound much like an acid jazz cover of their own music, playing softer, more slowly, more thoughtfully and avoiding the electronic glitches and loops from their albums. The band played a few crowd favourites, such as "Home" and "Speed Dial No.2" from 2004's When It Falls, not to mention a gorgeous jazz-infused version of "Destiny" from their 2001 debut, Simple Things.
Overall, the show felt much like the effects of Ambien: soothing, phantasmagorical and almost surreal. Baiting the crowd with warm sound bytes and the irresistible crooning of a woman "watching porn in my hotel dressing gown," Zero 7 did not disappoint.