setlist courtesy of setlist.fm
10/19: Portland, OR - Star Theatre
10/20: Seattle, WA - Tractor Tavern
10/22: San Francisco, CA - Rickshaw Stop
10/24: Los Angeles, CA - Bootleg Theatre
It only makes sense that my first show at the revamped Turf would be an evening with one of my favorite bands, Toronto’s finest, those mighty kings of sublime harmony: SLOAN.
To my delight, there was no opening act, only Sloan themselves, rocking out for nearly 3 hours (with a short break in between sets, of course) and generously doling out gems from their back catalogue like they were giving out Halloween candy early. A good portion of the set was also dedicated to their new album Commonwealth and, uh, spoiler alert, those songs sounded f*cking amazing. New tracks can be a little tricky to play for the hit-hungry masses, but the chosen Commonwealth cuts were pretty much a slam dunk with this Friday night crowd.
Opening the show was drummer Andrew Scott’s opus “Forty-Eight Portraits,” an aptly titled montage of dreamy piano-driven melodies, subtle tempo changes and a killer “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”-style walking guitar that repeated several times at the number’s close. I don’t know why, but I really love watching the guys switch out instruments with each other - in this case, bassist Chris Murphy worked the drums and guitarist Jay Ferguson took on bass duties while Andrew, looking mysterious and cool behind dark sunglasses, played guitar and sang.
Guitarist Patrick Pentland served up some righteous tunes next, tearing it up on new songs “Keep Swinging (Downtown)” and the bad-ass rocker “13 (Under a Bad Sign)” as well as Parallel Play’s “Burn For It” and The Double Cross’ “Unkind.” The Eagles-flavored strum of “You’ve Got A Lot On Your Mind” indicated that Jay would take over lead vocals, his lovely voice blending flawlessly with Chris’ on Parallel Play hopper “Witches’ Wand” and “Bells On,” a fan favorite from Twice Removed. Keyboard player and band secret weapon Gregory MacDonald is always positioned in the back to the right of Scott, but is still a great presence on stage, lending his pipes for harmonies and showcasing his keys the stunning “Three Sisters” (“She recognized the tune but not the band”).
The second half of the show picked up at the same breathless pace it ended on with Jay-led Navy Blues cut “C’mon Cmon (We’re Gonna Get It Started)” and weaving through barn-burners (“Ill Placed Trust,” “Who Taught You To Live Like That?” “Ready For You”) and jangly power-pop jawbreakers (“The N.S.” “On the Horizon” “You Don’t Need Excuses to Be Good”). Before starting “Cleopatra,” Chris mentioned that Weezer also has a song of the same name on their newest album (the recently released Everything Will Be Alright In the End) and suggested fans take a listen to compare and decide which track rocked harder. I think you can guess which one my money is on.
Sometime near the end of the show, Chris asked how many of the crowd had been following them since the 90s... to which an overwhelming majority of the audience shot up their hands proudly. With a grin and a thank you, Chris and the band tore into “Money City Maniacs,” a joyful blast of wailing guitar and hip-shaking rhythms. After saying their goodbyes, a very sweaty Sloan departed the stage under a downpour of jubilant howling and applause from their fans.
One of the best live acts in all of North America...
I left the Turf last night feeling exhilarated. Not only had I witnessed a top-notch rock show from Sloan, one of the best live acts in all of North America in my humble opinion (and managed to procure autographs and hugs from all members) but I was able to experience it all at the Turf Club.
Sloan at Turf Club, St Paul (10 Oct 2014)