London Grammar / Haerts Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto ON, April 7
Published Apr 08, 2014Three-piece UK band London Grammar stopped by the Phoenix Concert Theatre in support of their debut album, If You Wait. It's been just over a year since the band quietly released single "Hey Now" online, but they've soared to the forefront of the English music scene, going platinum in the UK and earning the reported fandom of British Prime Minister, David Cameron, though that's not necessarily the kind of endorsement any new indie band wants.
First up was Haerts, a four-member band from Brooklyn, who played a captivating opening set. All upbeat synth-pop and sweet vocals, their sound felt like a light warm-up before London Grammar's weightier performance. Despite a few mic issues at times, during which you couldn't quite hear lead singer Nina Fabi, her voice made most latecomers stop in their tracks, if even for a few moments, before finding their spot for the night.
London Grammar took the stage for just under an hour, encore included. It was a concise but solid set.
It started with a slow build into "Hey Now"; soothing bass and keys from Dominic Major and Dan Rothman brought the crowd to a hush before Hannah Reid's vocal adlibbing. If there was any doubt whether she could hold up her vocals live, they were satisfied right there. The room was hers to do with how she pleased. Reid's vocals were soft and subtle, yet capable of a wide tonal range.
Bongos cut through the lull as "Hey Now" ended and they performed "Darling Are You Gonna Leave Me," on which the chemistry of the young band was best showcased. This was evident throughout the set, but especially during this song, as they played off each other's energy well.
While it's Reid's commanding voice that many can't stop talking about, the show was as much Major and Rothman's as it was hers. They took turns addressing the audience and had their own respective moments to shine on each track, without coming off forced.
Later in the set, during the tail end of "Flicker," the band took over and jammed out a little bit while Reid rested her voice. With toothaches and contact highs from sneaky pot smokers, Reid said that the tour hadn't been the easiest on her voice, but the instrumental break kept the crowd moving in the meantime.
Bursts of energy came from the audience during popular hits like "Sights," "Wasting My Young Years" and "Strong." While some began to leave just as the last song was announced, most of the audience didn't dare move until the rousing encore performance of "Metal & Dust" came to an end.
The show was fairly by the book, but perfectly displayed the scope between bombastic, powerful, sullen and vulnerable that made If You Wait such a listenable album.
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