The last time The Dears were in town, they were gracing the stage of the Fox Cabaret shortly after their album Times Infinity, vol. 1. Now, two and a half years later, and after the release of Volume 2, they've returned to the same stage for an early show at the Fox.
Which, as a side note, I think the last 3 or 4 times I've seen The Dears here, it's been an early/curfewed show, and I'm really hoping that's not a trend that continues.
Anyway, I got to the venue just as opener Lou Canon was starting her set, out on stage alone with her keyboard and a projection screen of spooky eyes behind her. Dark synths and her haunting voice filled the room, with songs like "Coma" and infectiously catchy "Fever". She seemed to get a bit more comfortable on stage as the set went, joking with the crowd before dedicating the final song to her step-father.
Soon after that, the screen was filled with a giant image similar to the album cover of Times Infinity vol 2 -- Murray Lightburn and Natalia Yanchak smooching -- and The Dears took the stage to a 16-bit sounding tune (which I swear I recognised but could not place).
They kicked off with the first song from the new album, "Taking it to the Grave" before an hour-plus mix of nearly their whole history; from the dark and moody "Who Are You, Defenders Of The Universe", to the deceptively peppy and upbeat "Whites Only Party", to the fragile "I Used To Pray For The Heavens To Fall", and one of my all-time favourites, "You And I Are A Gang Of Losers" swelling to a soaring ending.
Even after joking about having a heart-attack on stage, Murray was still as intense and emotional as ever while performing. Switching between electric and acoustic guitars, adding tambourine or harmonica, singing to the crowd to to his wife, everything he does draws you in. While perched on the edge of the stage for "Hate Then Love", it seemed like he was personally vowing "I swear it to you" to each and every person, and they all believed it.
After finishing off the set with the crowd singing along to "Lost in the Plot", Murray came out alone for a solo acoustic song, joking he would start once the people in the back "shut the fuck up" (leading to a short debate as to if that was more or less harsh than "get the fuck out"). First playing a gorgeous version of "Ticket to Immortality", written while he & Natalia were still expecting their first child, and then spontaneously played "There Goes My Outfit" while waiting for the band to return. Finally, they finished the night off with the perennial favourite and show-closer, "22: The Death of All the Romance". Clearly a favourite to many in the crowd (myself included), emotions poured from the band, throughout the crowd, and back, as the song built to a chaotic, apocalyptic ending, Murray leaving the stage saying the band loves us... times infinity.
Taking It To The Grave
I Used To Pray For The Heavens To Fall
Who Are You, Defenders Of The Universe
Whites Only Party
Here's To The Death Of All The Romance
All The Hail Marys
You And I Are A Gang Of Losers
Hate Then Love
Lost In The Plot
Ticket To Immortality
There Goes My Outfit
22: The Death Of All The Romance