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Published: 2015/05/01
by Alex Baker

The Bright Light Social Hour, Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto- 4/15

Two-and-a-half weeks into a tour in support of their brand new album, the Bright Light Social Hour rocked Toronto’s legendary – and tiny – Horseshoe Tavern on Thursday, April 15. The cramped, low-ceilinged venue did justice to the big, soaring melodies of Space is Still the Place, while bouncing around the heavier notes from the band’s more rocking self-titled debut album.

With their classic rock roots on obvious display, the Bright Light Social Hour is like the cover band when you’ve never heard the originals. It’s as though they took a group of musicians who had never heard Led Zeppelin, the Doors or Pink Floyd, described their music to them and told them to go play it. It’s the bass-driven soul and warble of bassist/vocalist Jack O’Brien, the sometimes grungy, sometimes ethereal guitar/vocals of Curtis Roush, and the Animal-impersonating Jo Mirasole on drums, a quintessential hard-working drummer. New man on the keys and sound boards Ed Braillif rounds out the quartet.

This show began with a back-and-forth (including “Back & Forth”) of songs from the old and new albums, starting with fan favorite Shanty and one of the most well rounded tracks from the new album, Sweet Madeline. Pink Floyd-esque tracks Sea of the Edge and Aperture showcased their move towards a more sampled, electronic sound, while Ouroboros sounds like a Doors track that got left on the recording studio floor. Infinite Cities, their first release from Space is Still the Place, is as tight and intense as the guys get in the live show, while Jack’s poetic waxings into The Moon – splitting into two – had him channeling his inner lizard king.

Closing out the set with fan fave Detroit and an encore of Garden of the Gods were great choices, jarring us out of our grooves with some raucous dancers to end it on.

Overall, the trance-inducing, sampled sounds of the new album and the hard driving blues rock of the old material do sometimes clash, but on stage it felt more like a voyage of discovery than bi-polarity – the band continuing to evolve and find itself – and while they do seem to miss some of the old intensity and dynamism brought by keyboardist A.J. Vincent, the band continues to find a home in the dark spots of Canada.

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