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.
Mew , The Mod Club Toronto – 10th August 2017
In A Better Place
The Zookeeper’s Boy
Ay Ay Ay
Introducing Palace Players
Saviours Of Jazz Ballet
Carry Me To Safety
Nothingness and No Regrets
Am I Wry, No