Concert Review: Great Lake Swimmers @ Cargo, London, England

Toronto folk rockers, Great Lake Swimmers, swam swung by London last night as part of their UK and European tour. They have just released their fifth album, New Wild Everywhere (and they have also just completed their first interview with PeteHatesMusic!). Great Lake Swimmers were playing at the intimate venue that is Cargo. How did their mellow sound, complete with banjo, stand up bass, and violin, translate in the live setting? Well, you’re have to keep reading to find out – unless you were at the show…or some kind of wizard (in which case, we should hang out)!

Great Lake Swimmers, at Cargo, London - April 12, 2012 (Copyright: PeteHatesMusic)

Great Lake Swimmers, at Cargo, London - April 12, 2012 (Copyright: PeteHatesMusic)

Led by lead singer, Tony Dekker, Great Lake Swimmers took the stage around 9:30. Rounding out the band were Erik Arneson on banjo, Bret Higgins on stand-up bass, Greg Millson on drums, and Miranda Mulholland on violin and backup vocals. The band launched into the opening track, Think That You Might Be Wrong from new album, New Wild Everywhere, followed by The Great Exhale.

The first thing that struck me was how excellent Tony’s live vocals were. In some strange way, they were almost better than the studio albums at times, which is saying a lot. The violin in all of the songs adds a nice dimension to the live versions of the songs. It is subtle, such you that you don’t necessarily notice it, but the sound fits in the background perfectly once you do notice it.

The 3rd and 4th songs, The Knife and Changes with the Wind, were also from New Wild Everywhere – you’d think they were promoting that album or something? The band seemed well practiced and relaxed when playing the new songs, often smiling and giggling like school girls laughing between songs.

Great Lake Swimmers, at Cargo, London - April 12, 2012 (Copyright: PeteHatesMusic)

Great Lake Swimmers, at Cargo, London - April 12, 2012 (Copyright: PeteHatesMusic)

Everyone in the band but Tony left the stage after 8 songs, forcing allowing him to play a couple of solo tracks on the acoustic guitar. The band casually waltzed back on stage during Tony’s cover of a Gram Parsons’ tune, and helped him finish off the song.

Great Lake Swimmers’ 2007 hit, Your Rocky Spiny, followed, with a slightly extended intro, to account for the crowd clap along (which you can see in the video below).

Great Lake Swimmers – Your Rocky Spine (Live at Cargo, London)

After playing recent single and 18th song of the night, Easy Come Easy Go, the band left the stage. Thankfully, they did what all good bands do, and returned for an encore. Tony asked the crowd if there were any Canadians, to which the crowd (and my not-so-sober self) screamed in response.

The band closed out the night with Quiet Your Mind. The nearly 90-minute set focused mainly on songs from new album, New Wild Everywhere, and was sprinkled with their past hits. The crowd liked what the saw and heard, as the songs were well received (no one threw any beer bottles due to having a bad time). If you missed the show and want to become a UK or European groupie, check out the remaining tour dates for Great Lake Swimmers over at their website.

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PHM Rating for Great Lake Swimmers: 8.0 out of 10

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