Stick Men – The Garrison Toronto, 27th August. Photo Review.

Stick Men Toronto 22

Stick Men made a welcome return to Toronto last week. Words by Tim Darbyshire, photos by Tim Darbyshire and Keith Quinn.

Straight after another touring cycle with King Crimson, Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto once again joined forces with fellow stick man Markus Reuter and embarked on the ‘Prog Noir 2017 Tour’

The intimate setting of The Garrison provided the backdrop for the evening as Stick Men performed an eclectic set spanning their full career to date.  The latest studio album ‘Prog Noir’ provided 4 of the numbers and the usual King Crimson covers were eagerly lapped up by the enthusiastic crowd.

Seeing such quality musicians up close is always a treat, and with such a small stage, at times it felt like the band were playing in your living room.

Special mention too must go to SONAR, the Swiss support band who performed a excellent opening set of rythmic, interlocking instrumental tunes. For more information visit the SONAR website

Stick Men
Pat Mastelotto – Drums and percussion
Tony Levin – Chapman stick, vocals
Markus Reuter – Touch guitar

Setlist – The Garrison, Toronto – 27th August 2017

Hide The Trees
Cusp
Schattenhaft
Crack In The Sky
Breathless (Robert Fripp cover)
Open
Mirage (Mike Oldfield cover)
Plutonium
Horatio
Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Part Two (King Crimson cover)
Mantra
Prog Noir
Sartori In Tangier (King Crimson cover)
Level Five (King Crimson cover)

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SONAR

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Mew – Mod Club Toronto, 10th August

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Words and photos by Tim Darbyshire. Danish band Mew have recently released ‘Visuals’ their fifth studio album and just embarked on their ‘2017 Visuals North American Tour’ to promote it. I caught up with the band at Toronto’s Mod Club.

Mew are no strangers to the intimate Mod Club, having last played here in 2009. Their last visit to Toronto was in 2015 when they played at Lee’s Palace, a show at which although Mew delivered musically was strangely bereft of their intoxicating visual show. Happily Mew delivered on both fronts this time in front of an appreciative near sell out crowd.

Compared to previous Mew albums, ‘Visuals’ has a lighter, more poppy feel.  It sounds very smooth with infectious catchy melodies throughout.  Live, the new material merged seamlessly with older songs as the band flawlessly delivered an eclectic crowd pleasing set.

Mew started proceedings with ‘In A Better Place’ from the new album – one of five new songs – before heading into more familiar territory with ‘Special’ and ‘The Zookeeper’s Boy’, from 2005’s ‘And The Glass Handed Kites’. The show had many highlights, including ‘Introducing Palace Players’ from 2009’s ‘No More Stories’ , ‘Satellites’ from ‘Plus Minus’ and ‘Snow Brigade’ from 2003’s groundbreaking ‘Frengers’ album.  The extended encore ended with three more cuts from ‘Frengers’ – ‘Am I Wry, No’, ‘156’ and perhaps Mew’s defining song,  ‘Comforting Sounds’.

Mew are a cohesive live unit, full time members Jonas Bjerre (vocals/guitar), Johan Wohlert (bass) and Silas Utke Graae Jorgensen (drums) are joined by long time collaborator Nick Watts on keyboards and by guitarist Mads Wegner who undertook the arduous task of replacing founding member Bo Madsen on stage in 2015.

Especially impressive is the tight rhythm section, underpinning Jonas Bjerre’s uplifting vocals and Mads Wegner’s angular guitar work. The show is equally impressive visually, with all manner of projections on the large screen behind the band, after all who can ever get enough of violin playing cats?

‘Visuals’ was released just 2 years after 2015’s ‘Plus Minus’, a break with tradition for Mew who typically take their time between albums. Hopefully this trend continues and the Danes return to North America in the near future.

Set List
Mew , The Mod Club Toronto – 10th August 2017

In A Better Place
Special
The Zookeeper’s Boy
Satellites
Ay Ay Ay
Introducing Palace Players
Twist Quest
Start
Water Slides
Snow Brigade
Apocalypso
Saviours Of Jazz Ballet
Carry Me To Safety
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Nothingness and No Regrets
Am I Wry, No
156
Comforting Sounds