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Show Review: Land of Talk – Live at Lee’s Palace, Thursday September 16, 2010

September 18, 2010

When Lizzie Powell and her band Land of Talk emerged onstage at Lee’s Palace last night I could tell we were in for a special performance. The Montreal-based indie-rock trio (rounded out by Andrew Barr on drums and Joseph Yarmush on bass and occasionally guitar) was joined by tour-mates and fellow Montréalers, Suuns. With seven musicians onstage, Land of talk was looking more like the Grateful Dead than a power-trio. Needless to say, the addition of a second drummer, backup female vocalist and a keyboard player gave the band’s songs a whole new energy. The Montreal collective opened strong as Barr triggered a digital drum loop and Lizzie launched into “Cloak and Cipher”, the title track off of the band’s latest release, which bares the very same name. Next up was “Swift Coin”, Land of Talk’s newest single. It featured some heavily distorted guitar and was nicely jammed out thanks to some beautiful soloing from Suun’s lead guitarist. “Some Are Lakes” received a huge response from the audience and was the first real sing-a-long of the night. The crowd seemed to know most of the lyrics, throwing caution to the wind and singing loud and proud.

The addition of a second female vocalist seemed to do wonders for Lizzie. As most fans of the band know, she suffered from a vocal polyp and almost had to give up singing entirely. Having another voice to rely on and harmonize with seemed to provide some extra comfort and breathing room for Lizzie, as she didn’t have to risk throwing out her voice during some of the night’s heavier numbers. One of which was “Yuppy Flu”, the anthem rocker that fully illustrates Land of Talk’s ability to enter into alt-rock territory with ease and success. When the band dropped “Quarry Hymns” it was easy to see they were hitting their stride. Lizzie rocked her way over to almost every musician on stage, smiling from ear to ear and receiving huge nods of approval from Barr.

The group showed off their experimental side as swirling noises, more characteristic of Wilco than Land of Talk, filled Lee’s Palace. The walls of noise were slowly ripped down by the heavy sounds of “Sixteen Asterisk” which was followed by “May You Never”. The latter showcased Barr’s proficiency behind his kit as he banged away with maracas rather than traditional sticks. A few tunes later the group waved goodbye and headed off stage. The noise from the crowd was deafening and obviously un-ignorable as Land of Talk quickly reemerged to play one of their slowest and most beautiful tunes titled “It’s Okay”. Once again, the group departed but the fans were unsatisfied with a stingy one song encore (although that’s all the set list, which I managed to grab had listed). They came out once more (as a trio this time) and played two more songs including their classic “Summer Special”.

Last night Land of Talk were treated as if they were Toronto-bred, and the brimming smiles from each musician onstage undoubtedly ensured that they’ll be coming back to Toronto in the near future.

Photo Credits: Lani Warsh

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