Concert Review: London Grammar @ The Great Hall, Toronto, Ontario
Editor’s Note: PHM special contributor Kelsi has provided the review below.
Ever since we first featured London Grammar back in December 2012, they have been on an upward path to stardom. The English trio mysteriously appeared and started dropping gems across the Internet, including Metal & Dust, Wasting My Young Years, and Strong, as they marched towards their highly anticipated debut album, If You Wait.
The 3 Londoners – Dot, Dan, and Hannah – hit up Toronto last night to play one of their first Canadian show. With a buzz about them, how did the band do?
London Grammar’s sound is totally my kind of music – mellowish music with ambient beats to go with it. It’s the kind of music I can put on at any time and just feel good. Although I was super excited when I heard they were coming to Toronto, I had mixed feelings when I heard they were playing at BLK BOX. Having been there during NXNE I learned the true name of the place is SweatBox. So this time I decided to wear clothes that enabled me to get to my skivvies if need be to focus on London Grammar’s ethereal sounds and not the sweat of the people around me. Fortunately, the venue moved upstairs to the Great Hall. However, I wasn’t aware of the venue change until I got to the show so I looked a little out of place being the only one dancing in my undies.
The English trio came out strong with singer Hannah Reid’s powerful voice literally quieting the room. Her voice was balanced beautifully with a deep bass as they broke into Hey Now. It was a great start for the band, which got them lots of love from the crowd.
I have to admit I was also very intrigued to see what Hannah Reid was going to wear (Editor’s note: I have no interest in this this. Kidding) as I had heard that she had a particular fondness for egg stained hoodies. Frankly though, the girl could wear a paper bag and look gorgeous. Once she starts to sing, I don’t think anyone is paying attention to the fashion – her voice is that great. For those that want to know, Hannah rocked a dress and she was looking very pretty in white. Okay, enough fashionista chat.
The drums started off song two, Darling, which wasn’t a track on the album. The crowd didn’t seem to know the song but was still into it.
Kicking into the next song, Hannah moved to the keyboards as the band broke into Interlude. It was incredibly haunting, as their focus was on the vocals with the keyboard, drums and guitar to support those fantastic vocals.
After Interlude, the band conversed with the crowd but my old ears couldn’t quite make out the full conversation. It was something about how great crowds are when they started cheering at the first note of a song they know, which of course got the band some more applause in return.
Hannah then told us that Wasting My Young Years was next on the docket, which the people cheered. The band ended the song a capella – very powerful stuff.
Next up was a dancier version of Stay Awake, which worked well for the crowd and drew big cheers at the end. Bongos brought us into the next song, Flickers. The theme for last night’s set seemed to be big vocals with subtle guitar and percussion as back up, letting Hannah’s vocals win the crowd over (not that the crowd needed winning over).
Hannah then made a comment about liking Michael Jackson which then lead to a cover of
Michael Jackson Kavinsky’s Nightcall. The band moved from Nightcall to Strong. Again, the vocals were top notch and the focal point of the song.
The band finished up their set with Metal and Dust, which was a dancier version than the album, with the bass and drums coming to the forefront of the song. It was a great change up from the mellow beats of the previous songs. I really noticed the instrumentals instead of Hannah’s powerful vocals in this set closer, making it the stand out track of the night for me. I liked hearing the band be a little edgier and showing their more electronic side. The crowd also responded well and the band got some dancing along with cheers.
The band came back to the stage to finish the night with an ominous version of Wicked Game, a cover of the Chris Isaak classic. The deep bass drum offset Hannah’s vocals, in which she showed us the upper range of her vocals yet again and just nailed it. Simply amazing – nothing else to really say.
Overall, the band killed it and left me wanting more. I would have liked to see the band show more of their ability to remix songs and their electronic side, but it was nice that they were faithful to the studio versions of their tracks. I was still blown away with how well they used the instrumentals to enhance and strengthen Hannah’s powerhouse vocals. It was an incredible show and a stellar Toronto debut. Here at PHM, we think the success of their first show in Toronto has to do with our resident photog Martin Bazyl seeing them on the street just before the show and wishing them luck.
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PHM Rating for London Grammar: 8.5 out of 10
Setlist for London Grammar @ The Great Hall, Toronto, Ontario – October 4, 2013
1 – Hey Now
2 – Darling
3 – Interlude
4 – Wasting My Young Years
5 – Stay Awake
6 – Flickers
7 – Nightcall
8 – Strong
9 – Metal and Dust
10 – Wicked Game (Chris Isaak cover)