|09-Nov-2007 02:05 am||Contributed by: pete||Concert Reviews|
You know when you really like music so much that you just kind of assume that everyone else knows about the band? Or is that just me? Anyway, that's what I thought about Athlete, so it was a bit of a surprise to me that they were booked into Lee's Palace. I just sort of assumed they would've been booked into a much larger venue. This show was part of a tour in support of their third full-length album, Beyond The Neighbourhood. Considering that the concert was plagued by technical and other problems from start to finish, the band held out well.
To begin with, the vocals were heavily distorted during the opening song Tokyo. That particular problem seemed to get sorted out quickly, but the one issue that never got fixed was a very annoying and overpowering hum. Not only did it completely ruin all the softer moments in the show, it blurred the louder music. But the worst impact was the effect it had on Joel Pott (lead vocals, guitar), who was clearly irritated by it. Around the sixth song, Pott said the hum was driving him mad, so in an attempt to get rid of it, all instruments were turned off, and he played a solo acoustic song, but with the acoustic guitar plugged-in. It dampened the problem a bit, but a quieter version of the hum persisted.
But certainly all was not lost. There were two passages during the set where the band seemed to get going, like in the middle of the excellent song Wires. The problem was that after each song, the hum would overpower the venue and break any flow the band had built up. On top of all that, there seemed to be constant issues with the monitor volumes or instrument mixing (possibly due to the band switching things around trying to get rid of the hum). And then to create an almost perfect night of everything going wrong, Stephen Roberts (drums) somehow lost his glasses on the stage floor while playing the first song of the encore. There was a short break while they looked for them, but he ended up playing the last song without them.
Despite all the problems, there were great moments. Many of the songs had quite a few people singing along, and not just in the front few rows, but even further back. Also, over the hum, Pott would chat with the crowd, with some quick comebacks to a few of the comments from the floor. After the proper set and short vote, Pott recreated a big Coldplay-style entrance for the encore, which was definitely worth a few laughs. At the end of the night, he mentioned they had had a great night - sincere or not, it was a nice gesture, but I have to imagine they were just happy this particular show was over.
From my point of view, the two times they managed to get into the flow were the moments I was able to see and hear what the show could've been. And it really could've been brilliant. They selected an excellent set of songs, but they were just unable to find their groove due to all the distractions. The band did a very admirable job pushing through the problems, but in the end I felt somehow dissatisfied. I really hope they are able to return to Toronto in the not too distant future and play a show the way we were meant to hear it. And feel it.
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