The Mocking Bird CD Release @ Roundhouse -- 01/20/12

It was a show that almost literally snuck up on me. I had all but dismissed it in favour of a different show, until mere hours before, I realised that The Mocking Bird was the new project from Vancouver musician Bob Kemmis. And then when I heard some of the people that would be backing him in the band for their CD release show, well, my decision was made.

Opening the night was Vancouver's Nat Jay armed with just her guitar and lovely voice for an acoustic set. With her folky, singer-songwriter sound, there were a few times where the songs sounded a little similar, but they were all very heartfelt and raw with emotion. The heartbreaking "Some of You" was a great example of this, with the longing lyrics and Nat Jay's warm stage presence drawing in the slowly-growing audience. Her catchy songs, emotional lyrics and intimacy all came together for a very enjoyable set.

Shortly after, The Mocking Bird hit the stage with a band of over a dozen musicians -- all in matching shirts --  joining Bob Kemmis, including a string quartet, horn section, Matt Kelly (Treelines) and Shaun Verreault (Wide Mouth Mason) both on guitar, Pat Steward on drums and his Odds bandmate Craig Northey on percussion. And the set definitely lived up to the pedigree of musicians on stage.
Kicking off with the opening track to the album, "Grace", the set went from upbeat and catchy rock to slower numbers, having almost an alt-country twang with Matt Kelly on pedal steel for a few songs. The strings and horns added an incredible depth to the song without feeling out of place, with the whole thing coming together beautifully for an incredible set.
Highlights were "Where's Your Get Up", "Quitting You", "Loved You Hated Him" and the song they finished off with, the last song off the album, "What A Difference". The usual encore first saw just Bob playing a brand new acoustic song -- with Matt, Shaun, and Pat providing backup vocals -- and then the rest of the band came back for a great cover of The Replacement's "Can't Hardly Wait" to wrap up the night with a bang.

Kemmis is a fantastic frontman with great energy, effortless charm, and funny banter between songs. And that charm and wit definitely seeps into his the songs as well, with some very well written and clever lyrics, and the occasional wordplay (which I am always a fan of). Everything meshed together amazingly for one heck of a show that will not soon be forgotten, and a damn good way to kick off the year.