The Dears @ Venue -- 03/05/11

I am going to come clean with you right off the bat. The Dears are one of my favourite bands. I hadn't seen them live in almost two years, and was more than a little excited for this show. It was an early show at Venue, which I both liked because I was able to get home early-ish (for I am apparently an old man), but also disliked, because I felt it cut the set short.

As it was a curfewed show with three bands, he first, The Tender Box, hit the stage around 7:20. There weren't too many people when they started, but by the end of their half hour set, there was a decent crowd. They had a pretty basic rock sound, with a high energy, but most of their songs sounded pretty similar. Two back to back songs even had the same "sing along to this part where we just go ooohh-ooooooh" template. Nothing terrible, and enjoyable enough to watch, but not too memorable either.

Next up was Eulogies. I had only heard one song prior to the show, and I liked it so I was intrigued to see them. I was won over, if for no other reason than the lead singer had a Fantastic Four guitar, but also at the incredibly catchy and well written songs. They had a sound that I immediately though to classify as "dark pop", even if that isn't a genre and makes no sense, but the songs managed to be equal amounts upbeat and intense. There wasn't much by way of banter, but the lead singer still had a charm and charisma to him, and did a good job of engaging the crowd. I will definitely be checking them out next time they're through town, and had I the monies, I would have picked up their new album. (But I will have to make do with it streaming from their website for now)

And then the lights dimmed, and "Love me Tender" started to play. At first I wasn't sure if it was The Dears intro music or not, but as the song ended, they hit the stage and launched right into it with the first four songs off their new album, Degeneration Street. "Omega Dog" was brilliant live, with Pat Krief's amazing guitar work melting faces early on and "Tigerblood" (as Murray introduced it), bound to be one of my favourite songs of the year, was incredible live. They went on to play a good cross section of their material, with "Whites Only Party" getting everyone dancing, and Natalia's vocals coming to the forefront with "Crisis 1 & 2". The pair of "Lost in the Plot" and "We Can Have It" were great sing-alongs, and it was nice to see the latter live, as that is more or less the song that hooked me on The Dears. (I had seen them open for Matt Good and liked them enough to get No Cities Left after, and by that song, track one, I was a fan)
There wasn't much chit chat, other than some thank you's and song intros, and near the end of the set Murray explained that since they had a curfew, they wanted to cram as much music in as possible. The "curfew" fact got a few boos, but Murray calmed everyone by quipping that the "shiny shirts" need somewhere to go, too. As the set came to an "end", with a couple more off the new album, there was almost no encore fake-out -- or at least it looked like Natalia was questioning it -- but indeed "left" anyway, for a moment, before came back out with two of my favourite songs, "You & I Are A Gang Of Losers", which was incredibly emotional live, but was somehow topped by the last song, "22: The Death Of All The Romance"
The song began with Murray getting the appropriate parts of the crowd to sing along to the gender specific lines, and by the chorus, he was down on his knees, facing his wife Natalia, vowing to "avenge the death of all the romance". It's hard to convey in text (or blurry cellphone pictures), but it was an incredible moment, and an unforgettable tableau.
After some incredible guitar work (and more melting of faces) by both Krief and Murray, the song ended with Lightburn crouched at the front of the stage, microphone in the crowd, looking emotionally drained.

Part of the reason I love The Dears so much is their live shows. The whole band is passionate, but Murray especially just exudes raw emotion; soaring hope, bitter heartache, and everything in between, he makes the audience feel it. While I think their last show here, at Richard's, was better* it was still an incredible show, and just cemented why The Dears are one of my favourites.
*though to be fair that one is one of my favourite live shows, ever

Omega Dog, 5 Chords, [Tiger]Blood, Thrones, Whites Only Party, Crisis 1 & 2, Hate Then Love, Lost In The Plot, We Can Have It, Yesteryear, 1854.
(encore) Gang of Losers, 22: The Death of All the Romance.