Elliott Brood – Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto 18/11/11

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Tonight’s show is a triumphant return to their home turf of Toronto for Elliott Brood and with local heroes $100 as support, they take take the hall by the scruff of the neck and race through old and new material with the same breathless, almost relentless energy that’s become a trademark of their records.

Driven by the hard played banjos of Mark Sasso, the thrashings of Casey Laforet, the vocals of both and the frantic drums of Steve Pitkin, the band takes us on a roller coaster of emotion – from memories of family homes and dead first world war ancestors (‘Lindsay’) to a resolve to live life in the country (‘If I Get Old’) through rousing favorites like ‘Oh Alberta’.

Never mind that the sound of the Phoenix is muddy, and Laforet loses all sound from his guitar (the rest of the band carry on a bit more acoustically), the relentless urgency shines through. It’s probably something about being a trio – every bit of the band’s sound has to work hard to make an impression. Which it does.

As Laforet gets his guitar back the band get back into their stride – highlights include ‘Will they Bury Us’ from the new album, the iconic ‘Fingers and Tongues’ ‘Miss you Now’ and ‘Write it all down for you’ from 2008’s Mountain Meadows. New song ‘Northern Air’ – a tribute to a friend killed in the cold north of the country – is sung as a joyous Canadian Anthem – which it deserves to be.

Elliott Brood’s live show is something to be seen – there is a thoughtfulness to the words and an energy to the music and playing that amplifies the already overwhelming energy of their albums.

The Toronto crowd love having their band back. Encores include an animated version of Dylan’s ‘When I Paint my Masterpiece’ before we stagger out into the cold Toronto air, momentarily embraced by rocking stories of memories, mountains, meadows and the north.

This northern air is infectious – lets hope for a tour and a European release of Days into Years – their own greatest masterpiece so far.

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