Gig/Concert: Mew with The D’Urberviles
Venue: The Mod Club, College Street, Toronto
Date: 6 December 2009
In one word: Enthralling
Arriving at The Mod Club with fortunate punctuality, I made my way inside and glanced to the merch table and saw D’Urberville’s stuff for sale. I queried the merch monkey with the glaringly obvious “The D’Urbs are playing?” – to which I was told they were just going on. This was a pleasant surprise.
I’ve seen The D’Urbervilles several times this year and have grown steadily enthused about this
band but tonight I feel they reached a new level.
The four members of The D’Urbs were all grouped in close proximity, only using the front portion of the stage tonight and this closeness was mirrored in the tight performance that the band delivered. The D’Urbervilles were brilliant and this verdict was pretty much unanimous among the crowd, judging by all the smiling faces and hearty applause. This was one of the best sets I’ve seen in a while.
My last encounter with the The D’Urbervilles at The Shwaltz in September had been a more placid experience than I’d seen before from this band, due to the low-key nature of that show. Tonight, however, The D’Urbervilles were back at their best, with an intense and enthralling display.
Lead singer John O’Regan’s vocals were particularly clear tonight – compliments to the Mod Club engineers on that one – and the rest of the band couldn’t be faulted either. The melancholy tone, often more a drone, of Johnny O’s voice lends itself well to The D’Urbs post-punk styling’s. The music gets your body moving, while the lyrics frequently offer a dark-to-light contrast to music that can can be deceptively upbeat – an example of this came with the one line that from a new song that really stuck in my head: “Living is nothing but dying in disguise”.
It’s really exciting to witness how The D’Urbervilles are growing and developing – an emerging band of real significance.
In strong contrast to the manic and happiness-exuding energy shown in the performance of John O’ and The D’Urbs as a whole, came the shy but assured stage presence of Jonas Bjerre of Mew. Wearing a big floppy comfy sweater and equally floppy hair, the Dane is far from a Viking and cuts a figure of a delicate and emotional man with his sensitive-pouty demeanour.
Bjerre has an extraordinarily high and soft vocal which is a signature part of Mew’s sound – the vocal is comparable to that of a choirboy and if Mew are ever so inspired by the Christmas spirit I’d fancy them to do a mean cover of “Walking In The Air”.
Something had gone slightly awry with Mew’s show at Virgin Festival in Toronto earlier in the year but there were no such technical hijinks tonight at The Mod Club. Mew were on good form as they played their dreamy and arty brand of indie rock.
It’s fair to say that Mew’s music is not to everyone’s taste. This a gentler type of rock n’ roll. The audio dreamscapes that Mew create are really quite impressive and at times I found myself in a mixed mood of bemusement and enchantment. As the strobe lights flickered out into the crowd I would gaze around the venue and look at the sea of souls caught in a hazy trance.
My issue with Mew is that after a while the airiness of it all is just too weak for my liking and it makes me feel like I’m listening to the kind of music you might find on a relaxation CD for babies. However, there were just enough moments here tonight to remind me that I was still at a rock concert. One steady reminder was provided by the impressive drumming of Silas Utke Graae Jørgensen who hits hard and clean and had some nice fills.
For their encore, Mew closed the night with “Comforting Sounds”, which was an impressive zone-out departure with some outstanding instrumental work.
For guys Mew are the kind of band that you might tell girls you like in an attempt to show that you have some kind of sensitive side, while any girls liking this band probably have a big desire to go up on stage and give Bjerre a hug.
But guys, if you really want to impress that artsy indie rock type girl that you’ve got your eye on then tell them that your new favourite band is The D’Urbervilles.
© Brian Banks
Photos – The D’Urbervilles and Mew
Special (extended version)
Introducing Palace Players
Sometimes Life Isn’t Easy
Silas The Magic Car
Review and Photos: Mew and The D’Urbervilles at Virgin Festival 2009, Toronto, Ontario
Review and Photos: The D’Urbervilles at The Shwaltz, Oshawa, Ontario, October 2009
Mew – MySpace
The D’Urbervilles – MySpace