Midlake Lee’s Palace, Toronto ON - February 12

The last year has seen a number of dictionary-defined "indie rock” acts embrace the softer side of the ’70s, and throw kudos around to the likes of former AM radio gods like America, Hall & Oates, ELO, and the softest of the soft, Bread. One of the leaders of this pack is Denton, TX’s Midlake, a band that has been doing the rounds since 1999, when they were exploring their funk and jazz urges. Thankfully they traded in their Hancock fascination for something a little fluffier and experimental, like mid-’70s Fleetwood Mac translated by Bends-era Radiohead. Raising eyebrows with last year’s stunning second effort The Trials of Van Occupanther, the quintet finally brought their road show to Toronto to gently rock us into a comforting reverie. Being forced to abort three attempts in 2006 to visit the city, it was apparent from the sold-out crowd packed into Lee’s that this was a night filled with anticipation. When the band walked on stage to a rapturous applause they dipped right into opener "We Gathered in Spring” and proceeded to dazzle spectators with a visual stimulus of short films and movie clips that were carefully synched to match the song length. To be honest, they really needed an obvious visual aide; though every member displays a real grasp of his choice instrument, Midlake don’t exactly bring down the house with their humble introversion. Thanking everyone after each song like it was a battle of the bands, singer Tim Smith won over the crowd with his docility. But for anyone with an invested love for Van Occupanther, the band’s spot-on execution of supple piano, bubbling bass and exquisite harmonies was enough to satisfy the obvious hunger that lurked in the audience. Teasing everyone with "Head Home” as their last song, they continued on with two more in the encore before finally leaving us with what will hopefully be a shorter spell of bated breath till we see them again.