Michael Bernard Fitzgerald w/ Steph Macpherson @ Biltmore -- 02/09/11

It feels like forever since I had been to a live show (it was really only a week and a half), so it was nice to break the drought with a double bill like this.

Steph Macpherson hit the stage a little after nine, with a full band in tow -- among them Garth from 41st & Home on drums and Adaline on backing vocals. It was the first time I had seen her with a band since her Peak Performance Project show (which was, incidentally, the first time I saw her at all). As much as I've enjoyed her acoustic shows have been, having a full band added a nice depth to the songs. She started the night off with the title track from her EP To You, and hit all of the songs off of it.
Steph looked completely natural on stage, getting the crowd to stomp-2-3 snap-2-3 along with "Something In You" and clap along to a few others. Another highlight of the set was the heartwrenching "Letters" -- it's such a simple line, and maybe it's just the way it's sung, but I've always been struck by the lyric "caught me on the exhale".
She ended the set with the backup singers donning sailor hats and a song that I think was called "Summer Salute", which was a great song; quite a bit more upbeat than the rest of the set.
I liked Steph's music well enough the first time I saw her, but I think the more I see her live, the more I am liking it. And it's always interesting, as each time I've seen her, there has been a different arrangements of musicians and instruments on stage.

And headlining the night was Michael Bernard Fitzgerald. I really liked his set at Live at Squamish, and I had been looking forward to seeing him since. His band, which had some double drumming action, was all matching in white shirts and black suspenders; a bit of a contrast to MBF's basketball jersey.
With a great and energetic stage presence, MBF had the crowd eating out of his hand, especially the female contingency. From the beginning, people were dancing, clapping and singing along, with MBF even encouraging the odd make-out or two.
Midway through the set, the band took a break and MBF played a few on his own, but they were back soon enough for a cover, and a pretty good one at that, of "Dancing In The Dark" -- though no one was brought on stage to dance, Courtney Cox style. He followed that with "Movie Life", which sadly did not include his looping vocals, but did include a pop song medley at the end, which has, among others, "Thong Song", "Waterfalls", "Get Low", "I Like Big Butts" and was capped off with a little "Bed Intruder".
He brought the set to and "end" with "Brand New Spaces", getting everyone to join in on the stomping & clapping that went along with it, but was back out moments later for a brief, one song encore.
In contrast to what I said about Steph, I think I liked MBF's solo set from Squamish a little more than the full band, but I will definitely make sure to catch him next time he comes through town, regardless.

As I said above, it was a good way to end a dearth of live music drought, and a great way to kick off the abundance of shows coming up in the next week -- something like six in the next seven days.