Concert Review: Eight and a Half, The Jezabels @ The Mod Club, Toronto, Canada (full setlist)

The Jezabels either love Toronto or love touring – I’d like to believe the former, or even the latter, but touring is basically a necessity these days. Stupid Internet pirates! The Jezabels swung by Toronto last November, as well as this past April, July, and were back again last night. The PeteHatesMusic interview with the band must have sold them on the city, amiright?

The Jezabels @ The Mod Club (Copyright: Martin Bazyl Photography / PeteHatesMusic)

The band are still promoting their first full length album release, Prisoner, following that of three increasingly successive EP releases. Prisoner sees the band exploring different musical territory than their three EPs, leading to new fans and a few estranged ones. But last night the Aussie indie pop band pulled all their material together for one great set.

Opening for The Jezabels were Toronto’s Eight and a Half, who released their debut album earlier this year. They were a formidable 3 piece, consisting of a synth player, drummer, and singer/guitarist. Despite me furiously listening to them on Spotify hours before the show, I didn’t learn any song names. To generalize, they had good drum beats, vocals that fit the sound they are going for, and a variety of slick synth-led tunes that were instantly accessible, but refreshingly unique.

At the end of their set, the singer said “Thanks for coming out to see us. Well, the Jezabels, but us by proxy.” Based on their half hour set, I’ll be sure that the next time I see them, they’ll be the main act.

The Jezabels haven’t released any new material since PeteHatesMusic caught them in London, England back in February. Also, when I last saw the band in London, England, there is a sizeable Aussie population. I don’t think Toronto has a lot of Australians, but I found myself beside a group of them between sets. I positioned myself strategically beside them in case I needed lingo help.

The Jezabels, who consist of singer Hayley Mary, Heather Shannon on piano/keyboard, Nik Kaloper on drums and Samuel Lockwood on guitar (note there’s no proper bassist), came out dressed in all black, which I thought was a Kiwi thing? Hayley was rocking tight leather pants (which I also thought was a Kiwi thing).

The Jezabels @ The Mod Club (Copyright: Martin Bazyl Photography / PeteHatesMusic)

The band kicked off with A Little Piece. Hayley nailed the high notes at the end of the song, as she maintained a stationary position during most of the song, and gyrated in one spot. The guitarist, Samuel, bounced around, and was more animated than the previous time we saw them. His actions took some of the eyes off of Hayley (note: not mine).

The next song, Trycolour, at first had the vocals too strong in the mix, and then seemed to be buried later on. There were some nice backing vocals by Shannon and Samuel to compliment Hayley.

Long Highway was next, showcasing the booming voice of tiny Hayley. The song was more rockin’ live, with pounding drums and everyone in the band just giving it (which is a technical term, by the way). The song on the album seems a tad long, and is much better live.

Horsehead followed, with Hayley finishing the song by asking “How you guys going?”, which despite having Aussie and Kiwi friends, is a phrase that still seems very grammatically incorrect to me.

Up next was Catch Me, followed by Easy To Love, which brought a positive crowd reaction as it kicked off.

As Rosebud started, Hayley ditched her jacket and moved around a little more freely, and continued to be very animated. Hayley’s movements typically matched the tempo of the songs or the speed and volume of the lyrics. The faster and louder the song, the more animated she becomes. The rest of the band are generally anonymous visually, but provided driving rhythms throughout the night.

When Rosebud finished, Hayley said “I think we can all agree that Eight and a Half were good.” Yup! Some people in the crowd tried the old Aussie Aussie Aussie cheer. The band half-heartedly gave a reply, but some people in the crowd carried it on amusingly.

A song potentially named after me – City Girl – was the next song. Hayley continued to exude confidence, and showed off her excellent stage presence and her booming vocals yet again. If you had to design a lead singer for a band from scratch, Hayley would have many of the characteristics you’d want in this design.

The Jezabels @ The Mod Club (Copyright: Martin Bazyl Photography / PeteHatesMusic)

In the middle of City Girl, 15 random pieces of confetti fell from the ceiling. Leftover from another band perhaps? Coldplay would be disappointed – their confetti budget is insane.

My favourite song by The Jezabels was next – Mace Spray. The song had a drawn out intro that was slightly different than the studio track. The song was also slower, especially in the chorus. But it’s Mace Spray and it’s awesome. When it finished, Hayley said this would be their “last show in Toronto for awhile before we go away and write a new album.” Returning to Australia for the summer – very clever.

The first single from Prisoner was next – Endless Summer. This brought out the first crowd clap along. The final song of the regular set was Hurt Me, with its fantastic drum part. The song was accented by Heather’s piano parts which were not drowned out by the pounding drums. The timid Toronto crowd even sung along a little in chorus.

The Jezabels @ The Mod Club (Copyright: Martin Bazyl Photography / PeteHatesMusic)

Kicking off the encore was Sahara Mahala, which was a slightly slower rendition, and led to another crowd clap along. The final song of the night was Dark Storm, which had a quieter intro, and ending with Hayley’s vocals dominating the song.

A pretty solid set from a band who have been on the road a long time and still have the energy and drive to play for their fans. Hayley unsurprisingly stole the show, and was backed by some fine musicians. I’m definitely looking forward to some new material from the band.

For more pictures from the concert, head over to our Facebook page. All pictures were taken by the excellent Martin Bazyl Photography.

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PHM Rating for Eight and a Half: 7.5 out of 10
PHM Rating for The Jezabels: 8.5 out of 10

Setlist for The Jezabels @ The Mod Club, Toronto, Canada – October 24, 2012

1 – A Little Piece
2 – Trycolour
3 – Long Highway
4 – Horsehead
5 – Catch Me
6 – Easy To Love
7 – Rosebud
8 – City Girl
9 – Mace Spray
10 – Endless Summer .
11 – Hurt Me

12 – Sahara Mahala
13 – Dark Storm

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