She & Him Opera House, Toronto ON July 23

She & Him Opera House, Toronto ON July 23
The emergence of an actor who can actually sing and write a good tune has brought considerable attention to Zooey Deschanel’s first stab at a musical career. For her first Toronto appearance, Deschanel and M. Ward’s cutesy She & Him packed a full Opera House with smiling faces and roaring applause.

On the heels of their universally praised debut, Volume One, the duo and their four-piece band appeared light-hearted and cheery, decked in full ’70s sun-drenched garb, Deschanel wearing a knit dress and organic tiara, emphasizing her retro elegance.

For the first couple songs, Deschanel was all smiles but appeared quite nervous, hitting her notes but moving a little awkwardly on stage. Once she warmed up, however, both Zooey and the band let it all hang loose, getting warm and cozy with the crowd, while belting out album highlights like the country-tinged ballad "Change is Hard” and the Motown-ish shaker "Take It Back,” without missing a note.

Matt Ward was silent, allowing his front-lady to take the spotlight, which she did moving courteously back and forth from the mic at stage centre to her little piano stage left.

With only one album in the can, something Deschanel announced in defense of cries over the set lasting only an hour, She & Him brought out some covers as filler. Announced as a "song by a Canadian artist,” Deschanel and Ward attempted Joni Mitchell’s "You Turn Me On, I’m A Radio,” with success on their own, as well as Sam Cooke’s "Bring It On Home To Me” with the band.

Closing with the one-two-three punch of album highlights, "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?” "This Is Not A Test,” and "Sweet Darlin’,” She & Him proved they’re much more than a side-project or distraction for both Deschanel or Ward. That said, covering M. Ward’s "Magic Trick” as the finale in the encore made it known that Matt isn’t averse to getting some recognition in the shadows of Zooey.