The Gig: Morcheeba
Where: Métropolis, Montréal, QC, Canada
When: 19 February 2011
In One Word: Velvety
Crossing another triphop act off my bucket list, Métropolis played host to UK act Morcheeba, touring in support of Blood Like Lemonade, their 2010 release that marked the return of the sublime vox of Skye Edwards. From smoky seduction to tremulous hum, her voice is one of the most captivating that I’ve heard, and the band was in stellar, friendly form at Saturday’s show.
Giggly and relaxed, the band enticed and played with the crowd, displaying a sedate camaraderie that gave little hint of Edwards’ hiatus; instead, we were left feeling like we were all just crashing in the living room / opium den of some talented musical friends. Drifting between their signature spacey retro groove and more poppier sounds, the set selected mostly between the mid-90s classic Big Calm and Blood Like Lemonade, with Edwards frequently throwing out her mic for the crowd to sing along.
I’m a bigger fan of their original, retro-spy-movie-with-side-of-slide-guitar sound than of their poppier incarnations, and though I hadn’t heard any songs from BLL before Saturday, a few like “Crimson” more than satisfy those of similar tastes for familiar sounds; Skye’s soaring vox on the track are heart-rending live, juxtaposed by the subtle windchime guitar. Meanwhile, one of two contributions from Charango, “Slow Down” lays down some languid heavy-lidded funk that’s enough to make you want to sink into that velvet papsan chair, never to return. In the same vein, old favourites like “The Sea” – the night’s opener – along with “Trigger Hippy” and “Blindfold” vary little from their original states, while newer tunes like the acoustic “I Am the Spring” were more subdued spots in the evening.
For part of the encore, they slink through “From Russia with Love” before slipping into “Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day” – because of course a theme song from a James Bond movie would be come the perfect vehicle for their sound; I actually have to double check that they haven’t already done one. (And yet Madonna has? Why, universe?) The lyrics to “From Russia” are actually quite melancholic and sweet; Skye’s voice gives their soul a body and the result is a spot-on delivery that could have ended the evening on its own, but for the buoyant Kumbayaism of “Rome…”. It’s these last two songs that epitomize the shifting between moods of the night, from dark and sultry to airier fare, and the ease with which the band travels between the two – not a bad return at all.
© Liz Keith, Music Vice
Pictures of Morcheeba at Metropolis:
Morcheeba – www.morcheeba.co.uk