The Dears @ The MOD Club, Toronto (Photos and Review)

05-May-2009 12:00 am

Contributed by: pete

The Dears
The Dears
The MOD Club in Toronto, Ontario on April 30, 2009
Full Photo Set (12 photos)

Writing about The Dears is difficult only because there are too many things to say, and figuring out what to write and what to leave out isn't easy. In terms of band members, The Dears recently went through what keyboardist Natalia Yanchak has described as a "total mutiny", leaving only her and band leader Murray Lightburn as the constant. Despite this set back, they released their fourth full-length studio album, Missiles, in October 2008 to generally positive reviews. It is the album responsible for making me want to be a part of the show at The MOD Club on the last day of April.

But the story doesn't start at the show, it starts in the middle of the day while I was at my day-job. Actually, for The Dears the story started in Montreal around 5:30 AM when they discovered that the bus they had planned to use for their April/May/June tour had been stolen. The news spread, making it to me through Twitter (from @GrantLCBCR3 via @quietrevolution) around 2:15 PM. I was initially concerned that all their equipment had been taken and the show would be cancelled, but CHARTattack was quick to report that their equipment was safe and it was only the bus that had been stolen, quoting Lightburn as saying "The show will go on... in one way or another."

The Dears  The Dears  The Dears

Sure enough, when it was time for The Dears to take the stage, the lights dimmed and with the stage still empty, the music from the 11 minute album-closer song Saviour started to play. Lightburn's vocals started in, but from where I was standing, there was still no sign of the band. It turned out that Lightburn had entered the room from the back and sang his way toward the stage slowly weaving through the crowd as fans parted and adjusted their positions to give him space (as well as get the best possible photo).

The band played three more songs from the Missiles before venturing back into older material. There were portions of the show that were a bit slow for me, but there were also a number of strong segments simply because Lightburn is a passionate singer, which makes for an engaging show. And over on the other side of the stage from me, a second keyboardist kept catching my eye; it was the way she would dance while playing, it triggered a memory I couldn't quite retrieve. Somewhere around the fifth song it suddenly hit me: it was Laura Wills from Pony Up!, who now appears to be a member of the band, at least for this tour.

The Dears  The Dears

I think about 30 minutes passed before Lightburn addressed the crowd, simply saying "Toronto!" and then leaving a long enough pause that it was nearly uncomfortable before stating "I was going to say something fancy, but I'm at a loss for words." He's certainly not at a loss for words when it comes to lyrics, which are often moody and heavily emotional. Songs like Crisis 1 & 2 demonstrate that fact, and when performed on stage, it also showcases the almost odd contrast between the vocals of Yanchak and Lightburn, creating something both unique and strangely pleasing.

It wasn't much longer before Lightburn felt the need to say a few more words, asking the band to hold up at the beginning of a song so he could say "I haven't done drugs in a long time, but I'm so tired I feel like I'm on drugs." I didn't doubt it. Just thinking about what they had to go through to get there that day, I was impressed they were even present, and even more so that they were doing a decent job on stage. But Lightburn had yet to mention the circumstances. Instead the next statement was "If you'll always be there for us, we'll always be there for you." He acknowledged the statement sounded a little cheesy (and that he expected people to blog about it), but I think he was genuinely showing appreciation for everyone that made up the sold-out crowd after a tough day.

The Dears  The Dears  The Dears

The set ended, they went off stage for a couple of minutes, and when they returned for the encore, Lightburn finally gave in and told the story of the stolen tour bus with a easy-going attitude. He chuckled lightly as he conveyed his humorous vision of the thief "making a getaway" in a 45 foot bus with one broken window. I'm sure none of them felt quite as light-hearted just 12 hours prior, but it was good to see that they were taking it in stride. After all, it makes good tour story for people to tell.

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