The New Mendicants The Dakota Tavern, Toronto ON, August 27
Published Aug 27, 2013A late-40ish crowd packed the Dakota Tavern to see an impromptu show that was hastily booked only a week earlier by the New Mendicants. That's because the New Mendicants are made up of Sadies drummer Mike Belitsky and two indie pop legends: Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake and Joe Pernice of The Pernice Brothers and the Scud Mountain Boys.
They opened with "Follow You Down" a song off their Australia EP, a collection of songs the duo composed for a Nick Hornby film that weren't used. Pernice's plaintive vocals hushed the audience, who seemed to want nothing more than plaintive vocals all night long; they experienced near-religious ecstasy from start to finish.
Blake played a yellow glockenspiel for another Australia song called "Sarasota" which is based on the film Midnight Cowboy.
"It's not his first instrument," quipped Pernice, sipping alternatively from a glass of amber liquid and a beer. If people paid to hear banter, these guys would be selling out Roy Thomson Hall.
"Amazing Glow" was too maudlin and writerly, while "It's All in My Mind" deepened a recurring problem: too many simplistic, repetitive choruses that a pop band could sell, but were just boring coming from two similar-sounding dudes and a drummer on stage.
Pernice's "Out of Lime" showcased some of the pitch-black lyrics that have made him an indie staple, but without a full band, it seemed thin and forgettable.
The banter again outshone a Jonny (another Blake band) song called "You Was Me." As canonical as Blake may be, this song sounded like third-rate Brian Jonestown Massacre at best.
Still, it was a more professional set than their recent European tour, where the band's banter often overtook the music to the extent that they'd lose the count and have to start songs over.
"Cronulla Breakdown" was a lovely ballad that Pernice wrote for his wife, but by this point, something even more special was needed to break up the monotony.