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Broken Bells Handle Their Hype

June 9th, 2010

Broken Bells

When The Shins’ James Mercer and musical man about town Danger Mouse get together there is bound to be a certain expectation of greatness. Leading up to their show in Toronto on June 2, they were on the cover of a local alt weekly and buzzed about it tons of the Entertainment sections of the city’s newspapers. Luckily, the men and their band lived up to the hype and entertained a crowd of new fans at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

The Morning Benders

The opener, The Morning Benders were sweet as can be. There is nothing gritty about this group who are all cardigans and chambray. They ended their set with their fan favourite “Excuses” which both I and our Liz Trinnear proclaimed as the first song at our wedding receptions. (Listento it and you will now what we are talking about.) The repetitive hook of the song was layered and looped by lead vocalist Chris Chu who walked to the front of the stage. The ease of the lyrics prompted even first timers to sing along.

When the Broken Bells took the stage, the high school auditorium-esque theatre got as jammed as a small club. Broken Bells’ first album, Broken Bells had only been out for less than three months and their rabid fan base were eager to rush the stage and sing along to every word.

Danger Mouse was his mysterious self, hunch behind what ever instrument he was playing in each song. Hidden behind the drum kit at the back of the stage, it was difficult to get a clear look at him. When he got up to get on the guitar, he never faced the audience or turned more than hanlf-way towards the audience. He bounced from drums, to guitar, to keys and illustrated why he is one of the most sought after collaborators out there. The band had limited audience banter but it is doubtful anyone went into the show expecting to get Yeah Yeah Yeahs level stage charisma out of the group.

Broken Bells’ music is more reminiscent of Mercer’s most famous project, The Shins, than anything Danger Mouse has done in the past. With such a short repertoire, the boys played their album plus a couple of throwback covers, “Crimson and Clover” by Tommy James and the Shondells and “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me” by Smokey Robinson in the encore. Maybe it was subliminal messaging, but they had a hold on at least this audience member by the end of the night.

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