Live Review: Sloan @ the Imperial Theatre – April 20th 2016


Canadian power-pop rock heavyweights Sloan delivered an evening of quality entertainment to a local west coast crowd. Playing to their devoted Vancouver fanbase, the band’s performance at the sold-out Imperial Theatre felt a major step up to the ambiance of their last show at the city’s large and impersonal PNE fair. Sloan, one of Canada’s most talented hardworking bands, are on the road to promote the deluxe reissue of their popular 1996 album One Chord To Another. The album-focused tour is a repeat of their extremely successful Twice Removed tour and record reissue a couple of years ago. One Chord to Another is an enduring favourite of fans and even the band themselves. OCTA was perfectly suited for similar treatment.

The band played two separate, succulent sets, the first of which featured One Chord To Another performed in it’s entirety, which means the even started with the bolting intro and power chord crunch of “the Good In Everyone.” An enduring pop favourite, the crowd were quick to start dancing, rocking out or singing along. These infectious songs are also locally cherished. A good proportion of the crowd have seen Sloan many times previously, there would be repeated audience participation throughout the evening.

Because the band still consists of all original members bassist Chris Murphy, drummer Andrew Scott and guitarists Jay Ferguson and Patrick Pentland, they sound as authentic and original as ever. Running through the OCTA material includes a a number of singles that still rotate on Canadian radio. The addition of a guest trumpet  player on “the Lines that You Amend” was flawless in its arrangement. Like the entire concert, the sound on the song was crisp, clear and distinguishable, allowing the natural reverberating warmth of guitars and bass.  When you deal with Sloan, you deal with pros. Between songs, the band revealed that their first ever live performance of the OCTA material was at a secret show in Vancouver with Stereolab back in 1996.

Sloan’s second set consisted of a few newer compositions alongside a sizeable quantity of hits and fan favourites. Murphy joked “Does anyone out there have a siren? We need a siren!” as a crew member brought out a siren for the iconic intro of “Money City Maniacs.”  Up next were some newer cuts, “So Far So Good” off of the most recent record Commonwealth and the particularly catchy “Unkind” from The Double Cross.  With such an extensive catalogue of songs, Sloan only have time to play one or two favourites per album at each show.  As always, the band members switched up their instruments to allow each member to lead their own songs. All of the boys appeared in excellent spirits.

After cutting through their second set of hits, the appreciative crowd was treated to a last pair of songs. The atmosphere of the room changed completely as the sweet, swirling guitar intro of “the Other Man” saturated the crowd’s ears and hearts.  The song’s execution was deeply convincing. Signally the audience good night, Sloan crashed into “500 Up” from their beloved first EP Smeared before retiring from the stage.

The band has a dedicated cult following, and with good reason. The prolific four-part team of Murphy, Scott, Ferguson and Pentland have been continuously productive for over two decades. The quality of music persists and the fans keep coming back. Sloan continues to pay dividends.

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