Shred Kelly @ Railway -- 02/13/13

This past spring I had the pleasure of taking a cross country train ride, from Vancouver to Toronto, with a handful of bands, as part of Tracks on Tracks. Of the many great things to come of that trip, one of them was my discovery of Shred Kelly from Fernie BC. They were one of the three bands voted on the train by the listeners of CBC Radio 3, and  from their first night on the train, I was instantly won over by their unique brand of "Stoke Folk". So I was glad to have caught them in the middle of their short Western Canadian tour for their new album, In The Hills -- especially since I hadn't seen them live since the train experience.

I arrived at the Railway just as Carolyn Butula was starting, the first band of the night. Carolyn is most commonly known as part of So Charlotte Spun a Web, but was doing a solo show, backed only by a guy on ukulele. She had a nice voice, and her songs were all right -- one or two maybe being a little cheesy or unoriginal -- but there wasn't much to distinguish her from the myriad of other folk/singer-songwriters.

It wasn't long after that the five members of Shred Kelly filled the small stage of the Railway, and it was immediately apparent that the venue was too small for them; both size-wise and sound-wise. They burst out of the gates with the lead track to In The Hills, "New Black", showcasing co-lead-singer Tim Newton's incredible banjo skills; and it wasn't long before the beautiful voice of the other lead singer, keyboardist Sage McBride, was showcased on "Leaving Town".

They kept up the incredible energy and pace on songs like the anthem for job dissatisfaction "I Hate Work" and "The Cold", a chaotic and gritty number. The upbeat and rollicking "Time is Passing" segued into one of the softer songs of the night, the gorgeous "Rowed Away", driven by Sage's strong vocals, and they invited people to waltz for "Fossils & Tin", which starts slow, growing to a grandiose ending.
After about an hour, they brought the set to an end with "Tornado Alley", a song that matches the intensity of the titular storm, Tim's fingers a blur flying over the banjo strings, as it building to a frantic and crashing finale, perfect for the ending of a set.

Going into the show, a small part of me was afraid that my infatuation with the band -- especially their live show -- was part of my glamourising the memories of Tracks on Tracks. But they were even better than I remembered, and proved to a packed Railway Club that they have no intention of slowing down.

New Black, Cabin Fever, Leaving Town, Ghost Inside My Head, I Hate Work, Time is Passing, Rowed Away, White River, Fossils & Tin, The Cold, The Bear, Tornado Alley.