By: Curtis Sindrey (@SindreyCurtis) –
Acclaimed Canadian rockers Sam Roberts Band celebrated the release of their sixth album, Lo-Fantasy, (out February 11th via Universal Music Canada/Paper Bag Records), with an intimate show at Adelaide Hall in Toronto last night.
They began their 15-song set with the instantly infectious dance track “Shapeshifter”, a cut from Lo-Fantasy. This track was a breath of fresh air into a catalog that is best known for guitar-heavy rock songs. Lead single, “We’re All In This Together”, who’s guitar line screams vintage, sounded bittersweet. Sure, we’re all in this together, but individually we all have moments of struggle, but ultimately we keep heading headstrong into the future, “so keep moving don’t stop, keep moving just go, go, go.”
“Human Heat” began with a hypnotic guitar riff from Roberts that then burst into a frantic pace during the chorus of “Move with the times or they’ll leave you behind – You are your own worst enemy, your own worst enemy.”
“Breaking down the restrictions of your self-identity and wanting to be the things that you want to be”, is how Sam Roberts described “Metal Skin”, and with its Good News For People Who Love Bad News-era Modest Mouse guitar riff, it took on a positive vibe. And while Modest Mouse sang about floating on, Roberts and co. sang about bursting out of your current situation for something new and better and ultimately fulfilling.
With a family from South Africa, Roberts wrote the track “Angola” after hearing stories about the Angolan civil war, which dismantled the country from 1975-2002, and more generally about the presence of conflict and war in the human story. “The worlds’ on fire, try and hold on”, Roberts sang as some audience members stood glazing at the stage, while others slowly swayed.
New song “The Hands of Love”, carried a U2 influence, with gigantic sounding guitars, understated bass, and lyrics that are Bono-worthy, “Hear the city, turn it up – Take your money, burn it up – Lose you patience, lose pride – Bury your conscience – All in stride.” Producer Youth, who has also worked with U2, forced Roberts and co. to record together live off the floor, which Roberts said before the song, “[Youth] made us play music that we didn’t know and in the end, this songwas created in that uncertainty.”
During the latter half of the main set, things got quiet and soft when Roberts played new song “Never Enough”, which Roberts described as the “emotional epicenter of the record for me”. This melancholy track with a prominent horn section from Sam Roberts Band regular Chet Doxas, along with its slow, ballad-like construction provided a tender moment for an otherwise unyielding rock show.
During their four-song encore, Roberts opted for some older tracks like “Fixed To Ruin” , from 2008’s Love at the End of the World, which by all accounts was made to be played live and loud. With an opening riff that would have you bobbing your head whether it was in a dingy basement or arena, this is the track that all rock bands should emulate.
You know that one song that once you hear it, the lyrics, feelings and everything just flows through you again? That’s exactly what happened to everyone in the capacity crowd as Roberts played the warm, familiar opening riff of “Where Have All The Good People Gone?” from 2003’s We Were Born In a Flame. And while it’s unlikely that we’ll see Roberts in a small venue like this anytime soon, those that did witness it experienced a show by one of Canada’s greatest exports.
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