Live Review: Mother Mother @ The Clarke Foundation Theatre – December 12th 2012

If you’ve ever been to the Clarke Theatre in Mission, you’d understand what I mean when I say that this is not the venue for Mother Mother or their opener, Hannah Georgas. It’s a standard, soulless, auditorium – not to say that I wasn’t expecting this, but it underwhelmed every attendee of the concert. Everyone was unsure of how the venue could possibly benefit Vancouver’s favourite indie rock band, and this uncertainty was only illuminated by the small number of seats occupied as Hannah and her well dressed band mates walked on stage. “Where is everyone?” A friend asked. Regardless of where everyone was or was not, they missed a terrific opening act.

Hannah, fresh off of an album release, took to the stage with her popular songs. Rather early on in her set the audience was treated to Enemy and Robotic, both songs that charge the airwaves regularly on your favourite radio station. She has an incredible, unique voice and should never be overlooked when scanning concert listings. Her self titled album was a departure from her previous work; each song was uniform but each with its own sound, creating a wonderfully cohesive set and album.

Not too long after, the theatre began to fill as Mother Mother’s call time approached. Changeover was extensive, hands catering not only to instruments but to multiple light fixtures and smoke machines. As things settled and the lights dimmed, smoke filled the room as the five piece took to the stage. The young voice that opens the band’s fourth album with Omen poured from the speakers, along with a haze of sounds until finally, listeners could identify the first song. Heavy on the drums, reminiscent of Zeppelin’s When The Levee Breaks, the band swung effortlessly into The Sticks, but it wasn’t until about halfway through the song that an uncertain fan finally crept up to the stage. From there, the energy in the room was palpable as everyone jogged to the front and tried to secure a spot front row. For the first of many times throughout the evening, the crowd was taken aback by the voice of the beautiful Jasmin Parkin and before long, Ryan played through to the next song. Next was the Body of Years medley, this time around including the Pixies’ Cactus instead of my favourites, Daniel Johnston’s Sorry Entertainer and the Pixies’ Gouge Away. The loss was short-lived as Molly stepped to the front of the stage and began to sing.

They charged through The Stand and Business Man before introducing an overhauled, lo-fi hip hop version of Verbatim punctuated by a little nod to the Pixies. Different, but still outstanding – in a way completely satirical. Next was the Cry Forum, which surprisingly was one of the highlights of the evening. Simply put, it was loud and well executed. Everyone in the theatre was trying to dance but not land themselves in a socially unacceptable light, which in itself was quite entertaining. Molly closed the song by reciting Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If’, the poem recited by the siblings father in Dutch on the record, in English. Infinitesimal, prefaced by a poem submitted by a fan which Ryan read to the crowd, was another favourite. The crowd chimed in to carry the much-loved Ghosting, and similarly tried to follow along as the outro transition hung around To The Wild before finally landing in Hayloft. The girls sang, the crowd sang, and fun was had by all. Simply Simple followed, which stayed true overall to the song we hear on the record, with the exception of some varied harmonies to round it out. This closing transition was led by drummer Ali Siadat, who executes a change in tempo so well. I feel as though drummers can easily be overlooked, and Ali is a perfect example of just why it’s not all about the vocalists. Ali took Simply Simple and somehow turned it into Bit By Bit seamlessly.

Then for the second (or third) time that night, Ryan gave a little speech. This one was in reference to escaping the mundanity of our everyday lives. The crowd nodded along, a choir listening to their pastor. He mentioned in passing ‘breaking the boxes’, which really could have meant anything, but I think we all just took it to mean ‘breaking free’ of our bindings. His reasoning led him into Little Pistol, and then in another curveball song choice, to Neighbour. There was a little lyrical confusion on Ryan’s part but his adoring fans just saw it as endearing, and the rest of the song played out perfectly. Again, Ali carried the transition into Baby Don’t Dance finally Oh My Heart. Lastly, Ryan thanked the crowd as the band queued up Let’s Fall In Love. It wasn’t incredibly memorable, despite Ryan’s solo – this was probably because just about every song included a solo from him at some point. Not to say that the extraordinary became ordinary, but after awhile the sounds of his fingers gliding across the fretboard began to lose their influence on everyone behind the front row.

They returned for a brief encore, but not before Ryan took a moment to thank the people that had accompanied them on the tour. It was a nice, tasteful touch. They rounded out the evening with Dread In My Heart and finally Wrecking Ball, which Ryan played on banjo. The music made it a memorable evening, between the girls dancing and Ali murdering his drums, Jeremy stepping forward only once to jump on the spot a few times before returning to his post and Ryan slurring and smiling about. It may be a small town with rather unsuitable venues, but the cheering that filled the Clarke Theatre proved that Mother Mother certainly has fans in Mission.

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