The Jezabels at the Mod Club, Toronto – Concert review and photos

April 20, 2012

The Jezabels at the Mod Club, Toronto - photo Brian Banks, Music Vice
The Gig: The Jezabels
Where: Virgin Mobile Mod Club, Toronto, Canada
When: 18 April 2012
In One Word: Immense

Tonight’s concert headlined by Sydney, Australia band The Jezabels was something of a mismatch between the performers and the audience. First off, English singer-songwriter Benjamin Francis Leftwich was largely ignored by a sold-out Mod Club audience: few people in the room were paying attention, and many had their backs to the stage as they talked among friends. Having a solo acoustic performer as an opener is always going to be a bit off a tough situation – most of the the crowd rightly want to get amped up for the show, rather than listen to some guy in a wooly hat on an acoustic guitar, who mumbles between songs. Fair enough, but for those who listened and gave Leftwich a chance, they would have heard a solid set from this modest young lad.  “Maps” was my  pick of his set; it’s a song with some simple but effective lyrics where about a lost lover, regrowing, and the hope that she will come back one day: “Oh my darling, you should know, Since the last time you saw me, I have grown”.

If humble male singer-songwriters with a bit of a gritty, Coldplay/Chris Martin thing going on are your cup of tea, then give Leftwich a listen.

I frequent the Mod Club regularly and I am always impressed by the job done by the sound crew – it’s a safe bet, as far as Toronto concert venues are concerned. Tonight the sound was perfect, and the lighting was great too, so compliments to the Mod Club sound in-house sound crew on that. Good sound quality is only good if the music is worth hearing: The Jezabels were sensational tonight.

The Jezabels are a four-piece alt rock band from Sydney, Australia with a two girl, two guy line-up – from the moment they took to the stage, there was no doubt who the leader of the band was. Hayley Mary commanded the stage with an immense level of charisma and intensity. Singer Hayley Mary is a total superstar. The real deal, for sure. Her voice is comparable to Blondie’s Debbie Harry while her stage presence, looks and sex-appeal are off the hook. She is always at the edge of the stage, getting down low with the audience and bending backwards as she sings using every inch of her body; all clad in black, with boots, jeans and a leather jacket. Classic. Cool haircut too.

All-time top female vocalists I have seen perform live: Karen O’ (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Hayley Williams (Paramore), Juliette Lewis (+ The Licks) and now, Hayley Mary of the Jezabels.

Hayley Mary has a magnetic stage presence and all eyes were on her, but this is very much a rock group who are together, and unity and fantastic chemistry was evident between the band members in the music. The Jezabels are symbiotic, flowing together and complimenting each other to create swelling, brooding and moving indie pop music. Drummer Nik Kaloper is the pace-setter and frequently does my favourite ‘heartbeat’ boom-boom-boom style of drumming, and can ride and utilise the floor toms and bass without it sounding all George of the Jungle. Guitarist Samuel Lockwood and keyboard player Heather Shannon round out the sound, and the absense of an actual bass player is never noticed. This togetherness and symbiosis is what led to an immense performance – easily one of the best performances I have seen all year.

The studio recordings I have heard from The Jezabels do not do the band justice. It may seem an odd call for me to say this considering that their 2011 debut album Prisoner won the Australian Music Prize, but I have not been really excited by the songs that I have heard by The Jezabels: I enjoy their music and their recordings are fine but seeing them tonight in Toronto was a huge surprise – honestly, they were on another level to what I was expecting; seeing and hearing them live was so much better than on record. I could not be more enthused by what I saw from this band. The strange thing to me was that there were still lots of people near the back of the venue who spent most the show talking or playing around on their fancy mobile phones. That was odd, and a bit of an insult to the band but thankfully the majority of the audience were glued to The Jezabels and not their mobile phone screens.

The future is very bright for The Jezabels.

Some writers talk about the “energy” emitted from the stage by rock bands – if you want energy then see The Jezabels, because Hayley Mary is a bloody power plant!

© Brian Banks, Editor, Music Vice

Photographs of The Jezabels at The Mod Club, Toronto (click to enlarge from attachments):

Internet links:
Benjamin Francis Leftwich

The Jezabels

Brian Banks

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Brian Banks

Editor and Founder, Music Vice Magazine. Writer. Photographer. Poet. From Scotland. Not Ireland. Proudly based in Toronto, Canada. Rock N' Roll Don't Pay The Rent... 

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