Sarah Neufeld Drake Hotel, Toronto ON, August 22
Published Aug 23, 2013Instrumental music is not for literal thinkers. Those who need basic structures and lyrical content to help guide them from track to track understandably stumble through the more abstract or fantastical world of watching a solo violinist stand onstage performing a piece that's more akin to a concerto than a pop song.
Acknowledging your familiarity with Sarah Neufeld as an integral member of Montreal rock group Arcade Fire is one thing, but as she reminds us mid-performance at the Drake Hotel on Thursday night, this is not a rock show. While introducing her next song, "Right Thought," she pauses to reiterate that these song titles are not meant to be taken literally. "Imagine having to describe these songs literally?" she muses, before stating that the pieces taken from her latest album, Hero Brother, are merely extracted from "an imaginary world."
Neufeld's fantasies are wondrously captivating live and even though it's just one person on a spacious stage, she is able to conjure up a sound that easily swallows up the empty room around her. Much like the performances of other solo instrumentalists such as Colin Stetson, Neufeld proves that she alone is a commanding enough presence to carry a show.
Accompanied by The Luyas' Stef Schneider at times, this allowed for added percussion to build on Neufeld's strong foundation of sound, whereas other timesm such as on "Tower" or "Hero Brother", the violinist pulled double duty, performing vocals or stomping additional rhythms herself. Sure, this isn't the same as being on a festival stage with seven other members shouting out sing-along choruses, but Neufeld has simmered down the idea of a spectacle, which she honed with the Arcade Fire, and has transformed that energy into something all her own; a unique, otherworldly experience worth witnessing.