Mando Diao / The Comas The Red Room, Vancouver BC - May 6, 2005

The opening act of the night, the Comas, didn't disappoint despite the unimpressive imagery conjured by their moniker. Hailing from Chapel Hill, NC, they brought an art school rock sensibility to a crowd where wire rims and bed head were abundant. Swedish quartet Mando Diao (pronounced "Mondo Dee-ow") may have only broken into the international scene less than two years ago, but judging by the packed crowd inside the roomy Red Room, word of mouth has been spreading fast. They are currently touring to support their first full length, Hurricane Bar, and went from zero to sweaty in less than 60 seconds. Performing tracks like the catchy '60s Brit-pop-tinged "Down In The Past" and the rolling, percussion-driven "White Wall," guitarists/singers Björn Dixgård and Gustaf Norén switched vocals like a married couple finishing each other's thoughts (they did after all grow up fending for one another on the mean streets of Borlange), while roadies helped with a handful of guitar switches, all of which made it hard to believe that these four chiselled lads weren't playing to an amphitheatre. While crowd banter and interaction were next to non-existent, adding a rushed feel to the set, the raw energy and subtle technical proficiency of keyboardist Mats Björke, bassist Carl-Johan Fogelklou and drummer Samuel Giers more than made up the band's cool attitude. After Dixgård pulled out the harmonica to accompany Norén's vocals on a cover of "That's Alright Mama," the night wound down with the sprawling and delicate Bowie- inspired "Next To Be Lowered." Still in their early 20s, and with tours with top Swedish acts such as the Hellecopters already on their resume, not to mention a legion of fans overseas in Japan, it's only a matter of time before this band finds footing on a bigger stage.