Of course only a fool would go to a Broken Social Scene gig expecting brevity, but still, there’s self-indulgence and then there’s the serious risk of missing your following day’s appointments.
The problem is that Broken Social Scene have such a good knack for bashing out tight, melodic and immensely satisfying pop gems like Almost Crimes or Fire Eyed Boy that you forget the rest of the albums are made up of noodling trudgery like It’s All Gonna Break.
The first hour was slick and aimed straight at our dancing shoes. Coming out first with a beautifully recreated World Sick, BSS mixed up crowd-pleasing tracks, each one the best from their respective albums; 7/4 (Shoreline), Texico Bitches, Fire Eyed Boy, Forced To Love, Cause = Time, Stars and Sons; a tight set-list of spark and dynamism.
However much like at any ska-punk gigs, there’s always a danger that the number of Broken Social Scene band members on stage will outnumber the audience. BSS has nearly 30 creatives in its heaving rolodex. Tonight there were a third of them, each one having their own chance at the spotlight. Founding members Kevin Drew, Brendan Canning and Apostle of Hustle’s Andrew Whiteman each has their own solo album. The rest of the band has in turn their own side-project or affiliation
Lisa Lobsinger crept spider-like around the stage to sing her contribution to Forgiveness Rock Record, All to All. A gorgeous track, and much like the other songs played from the new album, it’s given a lot more gravitas and energy on stage. Brendan Canning played a track from his barely heard, but thoroughly underrated album, which went down with a leaden thud.
This convivial need to please every band member, coupled with the fact that Kevin Drew realised he didn’t have to fight for our love and attention anymore and was having the time of his life, meant at the top of the second hour, the wheels came to a slow and meandering stop.
Looks Just like the Sun is filler from the second album that really should have been retired a decade ago. Art House Director and Water in Hell represent a peculiarly retrograde Springsteen-lite rock trend that taints Forgiveness Rock Record throughout and are the worst things thrown at us this evening. There was even a sing-a-long and approximately 3 saxophone solos too many.
Manipulatively joyous and insultingly simple instrumental Meet Me in the Basement was grotesquely extended beyond its small confines and we endured THREE reprises of it. It ended three fucking times! Kevin Drew is the Tolkien of Canadian Indie Rock.
And then for their encore, with ten minutes left to go, Drew strummed the opening chord of It’s All Gonna Break, and my heart sank as I realised this was it for the night. No Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl, no Almost Crimes. Just ten minutes of swampy, indulgent, key-shifting thundering dullness.
Man, that first hour rocked though.
Words: Chrstopher Ratcliff Pictures: Rachel Jones