Walking into the Orpheum on Friday evening the 4-piece from Worcester, Peace, were already playing, my ears were so incredibly happy to hear an electric guitar playing rock again. You know when you delve into new musical directions, and although you like what you hear, sometimes, hearing a ‘traditional’ complement of electric guitar, bass guitar, and drums just feels like a homecoming? That was me upon my arrival and I wholeheartedly thank Peace for that. From the few songs I heard, including California Daze, I really wish my bus had come a whole lot quicker. I like their brand of indie rock goodness. These guys are officially on my must-check-out-when-they’re-back-in-town” list.
St. Lucia – is this a band or just the one guy who tours with a bevy of people? I probably should have asked some folks in the audience because between the house lights going out and musicians coming on, I heard quite a number of people cheering and calling out the name. Five people walk on stage and 2 MacBook Airs are waiting for them. There are two guitars for the first bit. One guitar player switches to a bass, then a keyboard player, then another keyboard / DJ station with drums. The lead singer has the kind of vocal clarity that reminds me a lot of Brandon Flowers. I’m liking what I’m hearing – it’s indie rock, but a different brand than our new friends from the West Midlands make. Something was off though, their sound isn’t quite filling the room. Nothing seems wrong, but it’s as though there was only a high range and a low range but perhaps no middle? I can’t put my finger on it, but at some point during the 45-minute set, whatever ‘it’ was, gets sorted (or I got used to it) so all is eventually well. They’re big on audience participation – before being a handful of songs in, singer-guitarist-keyboardist (only two of them ever at the same time) JP Grobler questions the necessity of the audience staying seated. That was all people needed to hear, everyone was up on their feet and many also headed down to the area immediately in front of the stage, until security coaxed some of them to back off a bit. They have nice rhythms, nice fills from the drums, the occasional bass line that was inspired by funk that’s poised against unsyncopated vocals. Grobler has dance moves I haven’t seen since New Wave declined in Europe. I thought it a bit funny that his idea of ‘getting with the crazy’ was encouraging the audience to jump around, but then, we ARE in Vancouver after all, and in the Orpheum (home of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra), so, fair point, Mr. Grobler. Out of the 9 songs, only one could be considered a ballad, and to the audience’s credit, they didn’t immediately take their seats. Still like the vocals, but for an occasional detour into ‘falsetto-land’, there’s almost zero affectation, a good range on the chest voice alone; many people would have to switch registers sooner. As a quintet, they’ve got it together; these guys (and the young woman) are well on their way. Musically, let’s call them indie pop/with rock, synth, and electronica blends. Another opening band for me to check out again.
Before I start on Two Door Cinema Club, let me just say there was nary a song that began or concluded without the audience reaction somewhere between deafening and disorientating. This crowd was super stoked, super enthusiastic, and super loud. The sound erupted when the house lights dimmed at half nine, and were pretty much consistent to bookend every song, irrespective of whether it was a single or an album track. Also, every song ends with a complete blackout effect on stage.
Two Door Cinema Club opened with a rather successful single, Sleep Alone, from 2012’s Beacon, and they sound GOOD! Hard to believe they’re only around 24 years old and have already been doing recording and touring for 4 or so years. There’s a nice light show going on in the background (I really like the vertical barette or baguette-shaped LED lights), some potentially seizure-inducing strobes come on for the chorus. The first chords get the audience back up on their feet and the screams from the all ages crowd (so a large number of them under the age of 21), and that continues unabated, but for the people singing along. Undercover Martyn followed and the audience was enthusiastic enough to warrant singer Alex Trimble giving them part of the chorus for a solo. Lots of dancing from everyone; it’s got a rather quick beat to it. Trimble says hello to the assembled masses at this point saying how good it was to be “back in this wonderful city” (they were last here in July of 2012, I believe) and how tonight was all about having fun. With their infectious sound, it’d be hard not to.
Trimble switches to keyboards for the first third or so of Do You Want It All? before switching back to guitar and Kevin Baird, who had been playing keyboard before was now on his more usual instrument, the bass guitar. Loving the effect those LED baguettes are giving the stage and the theatre. I think the last time I saw so much actual lighting design was probably for Muse, or on a slightly smaller scale, Snow Patrol. Although, Walk the Moon’s LED trees were quite cool as well beside their backdrop based on CD cover art, but I digress. Bottom line, I like the light effects, okay? Plus, they’re saving my phone battery as writing notes does require light.
This Is the Life in a live setting is better than on the recording: the guitar riff on the introduction is accentuated to make it sound borderline anthemic, the drums are quite punchy in parts and together it makes for a song that’s heavy on the rhythm that just makes the song sound so much bigger. Before Trimble introduces the next song, a new one, he checks in with the audience to see/hear how everyone’s doing. They all appear to be doing just fine, so the band continue with Changing of the Seasons. Spontaneous clapping breaks out behind me for the beginning and the band invites it for the bridge. This show is getting a lot of electronic help from off-stage. There are only so many people on stage (4), and Trimble isn’t even playing an instrument for this song, but I’m hearing so much more sound that what the instruments are actually producing, as if there’s a genie of a DJ off in the wings laying down beats or something.
Wake Up is introduced and this is one of my favourites of the evening so far. Looking around, I seem to be in the minority – the rest of the ground floor isn’t as into it, they’re not disengaged either, but it deviates slightly from that Two Door Cinema Club sound. It still has that very recognisable guitar, but other elements also get a bit more focus. Come Back Home is my next favourite song – we get some 1/8th notes to clap along to in the beginning but overall I like the syncopation in it. Speaking of, You’re Not Stubborn, sounds quite a bit transformed. The audience tries clapping along, but seems to lose the beat as there syncopated bits to it in the beginning that they are not familiar with – they need a beat, bass helps out to find it. Trimble is on keyboard for this song and the next, Sun. The audience sings and claps along quite a bit. Sam Halliday’s guitar part seems to compete for attention, it’s like it wants to go into different directions, but cannot.
For Pyramid, Trimble is back on guitar and again, the computer assistance is noticeable – not that that’s a bad thing. I Can Talk has a nice tempo dichotomy – overall, it’s back to breakneck, double time but it sounds so grounded and controlled. Halliday and Baird each have a moment or 5 on ‘look-at-me’ mini-platforms at both far sides of the front of the stage.
Time for Trimble to check in with the audience again. No change. Everyone still hunky-dory so why not put them to work: ”sing as loud as you can. If you don’t know the words, they’re “I want you with me”.” And off they go with The World is Watching. I don’t know if it’s just me, but for this song, it sounds like the backing vocal track (not from the audience) came from a choir of Smurfs. Happy clapping from the audience, nonetheless. The LED baguettes stress me out on Next Year – they show a long series of airport codes (insane routes by the way) and as I did actually go to travel school once upon a long ago, and the trivia part of my brain is really distracted by trying to decipher them (I probably got about 85% of them). The audience is not distracted, they sing the first verse along with Trimble, who’s at keyboards again, at full voice. They later get about half of a chorus all to themselves. It’s a fun and poppy song and everyone just has a lot of fun singing.
More audience participation for Something Good Can Work – spotlights are directed at the audience for their parts. This song has a fun and funky beat and the band give it two finishes, both with the seizure-inducing barrage of lights and runaway drums. The computer/DJ is back for Handshake – and they play with the levels ranging from melodic and a little quieter to poppy and rhythmic and again, off we go. The chord progression is similar to that of Next in Line by Walk the Moon – seriously, someone try it as a mash-up, it would totally work. For the final song of the set, Eat That Up, It’s Good For You is where the band really pull out all the stops visually, aurally, and Halliday and Baird take up their ‘look-at-me’ posts one final time (at least that I took note of).
They’ve played just over one hour and no one wants to go home yet. The audience only has to cheer and holler for about 2 minutes before Two Door Cinema Club return with a rock-tinged Someday. It sounds different than the recording, and until the chorus, sounds different from the majority of what we’ve heard this evening. After the chorus, the familiar returns. Trimble is without any instrument for 2/3 of the song but for the instrumental finish, he joins in with the guitar and they bring the song home and it’s a great ending with such a full sound. Cigarettes in the Theatre has some wonderful tempo changes: the introduction, bridge, & chorus are all double-time, but it seems as though they’re taking the verses a bit slower. The band and audience still energy left in spades and it seems like nothing is held in reserve. Well, perhaps just a little, because they finish off the night with What You Want. It sounds as though the entire house is singing the first verse with Trimble. Again, Halliday’s guitar seems to be pushing, straining, flexing its range and in terms of volume, almost succeeds in being louder than the vocals in an instance or two. The band say goodbye at around quarter to/ten to 11 and it’s a little bit sad. That was a lot of bouncing and clapping and singing and it was just such a high energy night of upbeat music and an infectious atmosphere. I think everyone does go home sufficiently tired out eventually, but there was no great hurry to exit as the young audience members excitedly talk to each other before leaving with great big smiles on their faces.
PSA: for people getting their tickets off some kind of reseller, PLEASE make sure you get an actual ticket for your purchase and not someone else’s confirmation number for you to pick up at Will Call. The Orpheum, and likely all other theatres run by the City of Vancouver, will only issue tickets to the person who initially bought the ticket. I saw a couple of teenagers run into a situation where the purchaser had sold the tickets on, but hadn’t picked up the physical tickets first, nor was he there with his own credit card and ID. I don’t know if the situation got resolved, but from the way it looked, these kids (and the guy’s mum who made the trip so she could show the box office her credit card) were potentially $144 out of pocket.
Setlist: Sleep Alone Undercover Martyn Do You Want It All? This Is the Life Changing of the Seasons Wake Up Come Back Home You’re Not Stubborn Sun Pyramid I Can Talk The World is Watching Next Year Something Good Can Work Handshake Eat That Up, It’s Good For You
Encore: Someday Cigarettes in the Theatre What You Want.