Mini Show Reviews: November 2016

Danny Elfman’s Music from the films of Tim Burton – October 30

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As you may know, I’m a big Tim Burton fan, and one thing I absolutely adore is his collaborations with Danny Elfman. The day before Halloween, I attended the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s perfomance of select songs from Tim Burton’s movies, including Edward ScissorhandsFrankenweenie, and – the movie everyone was waiting for – The Nightmare Before Christmas. During the songs, they projected scenes from the movies and/or Tim Burton’s original sketches onto a big screen as visual entertainment, but it was really cool to hear some of my favourite film scores live. The ice dance scene from Edward Scissorhands always hits me in the feels, and it was even more emotional watching the orchestra playing it.


LANY – October 30

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I actually won tickets to this concert, which meant I ended up with back-to-back events on the 30th, but I’ve been hearing a lot about LANY, so it was cool to check them out. Opening band Transviolet was interesting – not really my type of music, but cool to see live because they’re really good performers. Their singer looked like a cross between Luna Lovegood, Lorde, and what’s-her-name from The Pretty Reckless (aka Jenny from Gossip Girl), and she was fascinating to watch. Their bass was super heavy, which I usually enjoy, but they probably could have turned it down a notch in such a small space.

LANY has very similar aesthetics (and sounds) to The 1975, so if you’re into Matty Healy and co, you might want to check these guys out. They’re pretty mellow, but some of their songs have a great beat to them – stuff like “Where the Hell are My Friends” and “Like You Lots” (which, to be honest, are the only two songs I remember the names of). They were fun to see live, but I’m not sure if I’d listen to them outside of a club/venue.


The 1975 – November 3

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As you may recall, I saw The 1975 earlier this year, in May. This show was my fifth time seeing them and in the course of three years, they went from playing the Mod Club to playing the ACC – one of the biggest venues in the city. So that’s impressive, but it was also weird to be standing so far away from them…also the fact that the screaming from the fans was about 129790% louder than ever.

The opening act was 070 Shake (I think that’s what she’s called)…she wasn’t really my cup of tea, but she was certainly interesting to watch.

The 1975’s set was as polished and mesmerizing as ever. They played such a great mix of “old” and “new” (I’m OBSESSED with “Loving Someone” now), but they also made the decision to include some of their instrumental tracks, which I thought was an odd choice. On the one hand, it’s nice to hear them live and watch the band jam out to the them, but then, as an audience member, you can’t really do much during those 3-5 minutes. Also the fact that they could have included other older songs (like “The City” or “Settle Down”).

During the encore, Matty asked the crowd to sing “Happy Birthday” for his 80 year old grandad so he could film it…and as a “thank you” for indulging him, they played “Robbers“, which they haven’t been playing this tour!! Of course it was magical, and the “now everybody’s dead” line is still spine-tingling. 100% recommend seeing The 1975 live, though now you’ll have to be prepared to pay arena-sized prices.


Crown the Empire – November 18

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I was supposed to see Simple Plan on the 18th, but they postponed until March, and, long story short, I decided to see Crown the Empire that night instead. My sister and I have been listening to them for a few years, but we’ve managed to miss them every time they’re in town. So apart from a short set at Warped this summer, we’ve never seen them live, and we needed to get it out of our system.

We got there mid-way through blessthefall’s set – they were good, not really what I expected (I’ve only heard a handful of their songs), but nothing mind-blowing either. The crowd seemed to love them though.

Crown the Empire came on at 9:40 and I was a little disappointed that they only played an hour. There was a lot of stuff from their latest album, Retrograde, which is super mellow compared to their older albums. The highlight for me was when they played “The Fallout” (the song that first introduced me to CTE) right before the encore. And while I like “Millennia“, I’m not entirely sure why they decided to slow the set down.

Overall, they were good but not great. I’m glad I got a chance to see them live, but I probably won’t run for tickets the next time they’re in town. Also, where the heck is Dave?


Biffy Clyro – November 25

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When I was in Dublin at the end of November, my sister andI saw Biffy Clyro at 3 Arena. First of all, that place is HUGE. Secondly, Biffy always puts on an incredible show – everything from their explosive opening song “Wolves of Winter” to their brilliant (in multiple ways) light show. They played a lot of my faves and my sister lost it when they started “JustBoy”. They’re such polished performers and you’d be lucky to catch them live to see what a real rock show is like.

Meanwhile, Brand New opened for them and, while they were decent, they weren’t great. Their set was designed to appeal to hardcore BN fans and the majority of the audience couldn’t have cared less. I’m a casual BN fan so i was disappointed when they sped through my favourite song “Sic Transit Gloria” but then played a 12 minute outro. As a headliner, they would have been impressive; as an opening band, they seemed to waste their time on being Artists and not actually making an effort to appeal to people who may not have listened to them before.


Phil Coulter – November 26

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Also in Dublin, we went to Dun Laoghaire (sorta of a suburb type place, 20 minutes from the city centre), to see my dad’s favourite musician, Phil Coulter, an Irish legend, perform. It was a two hour long show that included a mini intermission; most of the perfromance was Mr. Coulter sitting at a piano and chatting with the audience before delighting our ears with some of his original compositions (including my favourite, “Coultergeist“) as well as classic Christmas tunes (such as “Silent Night“, with his wife Geraldine singing). Another guest included a former Celtic Thunder member, Paul Byrom, who serenaded us with songs that Phil wrote for him.

We sat in the third row and even got a shout out from Phil himself who had been told that we’d travelled all the way from Canada to see him (he never plays here). It was a mellow evening, but we were all stoked to hear (and later meet!) the man who usually soundtracks our Sunday nights at home.


Hands Like Houses – November 30

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We’ve seen Hands Like Houses twice but both times it was a short set so we were excited to see them headline. Opening band The Color Morale was pretty good; I saw part of their set at Warped a couple of years ago but haven’t really gotten into them. Next was Our Last Night; I’m more familiar with their covers but I recognized quite a few of the songs they played, including “Road to the Throne”, and their cover of “Cold Water”, featuring The Color Morale’s Garrett and Hands Like Houses’ Trenton, was fantastic.

HLH was, of course, amazing. They were energetic and lively and the entire club was sweating like nobody’s business within minutes of them taking the stage. They played a lot of songs from their most recent album, Dissonants, including lead single “I Am” and “Colourblind” (which I love), and older songs like “A Tale of Outer Suburbia“. Basically, the show was 10/10 and I would absolutely see them again (and not just because the lead singer is cute)!

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Sea of Tranquility

Because it’s Labour Day and I haven’t really done much else today, I’ve decided that my topic for Music Monday would be something completely random: Phil Coulter.

Super classy photo, Phil.

Also known as “Ireland’s Musical Ambassador” (I just read that, and it’s the greatest title I’ve ever seen), Phil Coulter has been in the music business for almost 50 years. We’ve been listening to him for about two years: while we were in Scotland in 2012, my dad decided he needed to listen to traditional music. He picked up a random album and it wasn’t until we bought it home that we realized that the composer was actually Irish. It didn’t matter though – by then we were hooked.

Coulter got his start back in the sixties and seventies when he worked with a myriad of other artists, producing and writing for them. His songs have been covered by the Bay City Rollers, Sinead O’Connor, and even Elvis.

My dad likes to listen to Coulter all day, every day. Usually on the weekends when he’s cooking or during dinner, but also on the rare days when he’s not working. It’s soothing: mainly piano-based, but some sweet electric guitar work that is so eighties but still magnificent. And sometimes he includes guest stars like Billy Connolly and (apparently) Liam Neeson!

Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to find a full list of Coulter’s CDs, but he’s apparently super famous in Ireland. My dad is waiting anxiously for the day when Coulter plays a show here, though he has half a mind to fly to Ireland to see the maestro in his native environment.