41st & Home @ St James Hall -- 03/15/13

It's been about a full year since the last 41st & Home, with their regular five members, but with all the members back in town they were ready to get back into the swing of things. And the first stop? St James Hall. That was where I saw them the very first time, three years ago when they were just "some band playing with We Are The City and Aidan Knight", but they've grown a fair amount in the that time.

Starting off the night was Skye Wallace with an eclectic backing band: bass flute, timpani drum, violin, and even a saw for a couple songs. Her lovely voice drove the folky sound, which filled the church venue beautifully. There was maybe a lack of variety in songs early on in the set, but as she went on the songs gradually picked up the pace, and by the end she had added a couple more members to the band, including 41st & Home's Garth Covernton on drums (who was drumming for every band that night). The last few songs definitely stood out the most, with the set as a whole building wonderfully; I would be interested in catching her live again at some point.

Next up was the spacey synth-pop of Facts. When I saw them last year as part of the Peak Performance Project, their set was plagued with some audio problems, but this time was a better.
With a swirling cacophony of new wave-y synth, the vocals bounced between three members of the band, which lead to an interesting mix of lead vocals, sometimes muddled, sometimes crisp, depending on who sang. Their set included a cover of Sarah McLachlan's "Ice Cream" and their single, the catchy "Retro Ocean". Each member of the band very upbeat with an almost frantic energy and they put on a pretty fun live show, and I'm glad they sounded a lot better than last time.

Not long after, it was time for the main event. And right off the bat, you could tell 41st and Home was glad to be back, the giant grins on all of their faces giving away their joy as they took the stage.
With projections of ambient shapes and patterns behind them (only visible after a couple songs when they got the stage lights turned off) they started off with a new song, playing a set that was about split between old material and brand new. Familiar favourites included "Eva", which build to an grandiose ending -- a trait shared by many of their songs -- and the haunting "Wilderness Eyes".
The new material sounded really good; it was unmistakably "41st & Home", but also showed some growth. Two that caught my ear were "Gold", another song that built up to a huge ending and featured great harmonizing between Thom Kolb and Patrick Fiore. The other was a slow jam that featured a little more of Sejal Narsey on vocals called "Breathe"
They brought the set to an "end" with "Gorbechev" drawing up to a completely chaotic ending, but were back for one more -- after Thom nearly thought he broke his guitar -- "Hummingbird", which wasn't quite as tight as the rest of the night. Perhaps they still had a bit of stage rust, perhaps Garth was reaching his end after being behind the drum kit all night (which would be perfectly understandable). But with that aside, they put on a good show, and I am looking forward to seeing what comes next.