Toque Sessions: The Belle Game @ CBC Vancouver -- 01/24/14

For a fifth year, the CBC Toque Sessions return to CBC Vancouver. The sessions are a series of free shows featuring some great local talent, running through the end of February, and are recorded for later broadcast of CBC Radio 2, and streaming on CBC Music.

The second session of this year (and the first I saw) was hosted by Radio 3's Lana Gay, and was one of my favourite new bands from the last few years, The Belle Game. The last time I saw them was a few months ago at a sold out Vogue Theatre, so going from that to a room with less than 200 people was a nice treat.

They kicked off the set with the haunting "Traditional", one of the tree title tracks for their recent album Ritual Tradition Habit, before launching into "Wasted Light", their lush, atmospheric pop swirling around the room. The seated audience was soon on their feet for the more energetic "Blame Fiction", and Andrea Lo's always powerful voice floored the room on songs like the dark "River".

The highlight of the set was a new, as yet untitled song, that absolutely blew me away. It started slow and haunting before building to a gorgeous and soaring climax. The song had something of a Broken Social Scene vibe to it (the bend recently completed a residency at the the Banff Centre for the Arts with Kevin Drew & Charles Spearing) and if it is any indication of their new stuff, I can't wait to hear more.

Near the end of the set the band was joined by Louise Burns for a couple of songs; a pretty cool cover of Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart", and the final song, ending the set as they usually do with the raucous "Wait up For You". Burns' voice blend in perfectly with the bands' sound, for a great ending to a pretty fantastic Toque Session.

Tradition, Wasted Light, Keeps Me Up At Night, Blame Fiction, Little Wars (Causing You Trouble), [Untitled New Song], Bruise to Ash, River, Love Will Tear Us Apart [Joy Division cover], Wait Up For You.