. : : February 1st, 2013 : : .
I was an enormous fan of Hannah Georgas‘ This Is Good album. Loved it to death. Her pre-Junos performance at the Drake Underground in 2011 is still one of my absolute, all-time favourite concerts. A great, powerful voice married to crazy, infectious guitar hooks? I was smitten.
Her follow up album, eponymously titled, exchanges those infectious guitar hooks for dance hall looped synths and digital drums. The warmth, youthful energy and dynamic excitement of her previous worked seemed to be exchanged with digital beeps and bloops that are all the rage in pop music these days, but tend to bore this blogger.
Heading into her performance at the Mod Club in Toronto, I still hadn’t been able to bring myself to listen to the entirety of the album. It was getting rave reviews in the blogosphere; fans and musical peers were praising it endlessly, but it just didn’t grab me the way I wanted it to. Was I going to miss an opportunity to support a wonderful musician who has brought me such great music, though? Not a chance! So, in the sub-zero temperatures of a frost-bitten February night, I headed out for the early show.
The setlist, especially the first half, strongly favoured the new material, and although it was a bit easier to get into the performance in a live setting, I still felt like this wasn’t the same energetic band I once knew. They were dancing and bouncing around stages 1/3rd the size only a couple of years earlier, but with the new material on display in a bigger venue, their feet often remained stoicly planted.
The band started to draw me back in by the time Somebody was played, though. As the fourth of the night, it was the first to eschew prerecorded drumloops and droning synths for a strong guitar lead, and the organic sound did a lot for the live energy. It was followed up with Lovers Breakdown, a bouncy stand out pop tune from This Is Good the reminded me there wasn’t necessarily as big a gap between the old material and the new as I originally thought, if only I looked past the cold digital surface.
Shortie returned to the blips and bleeps familiar to the new material, but with a upbeat flair missing on some of the moodier opening selections. What You Do To Me‘s tonal shift was reminiscent of This Is Good‘s Thick Skin, a selection that was played a couple of songs later. Looking back on the performance, it seems like the setlist was constructed as a sort of on-going crescendo, building up in the home stretch with Millions and Dancefloor and, by the time the pre-encore set came to a close, it was crashing and banging with the cacophonous outro to The Beat Stuff‘s stand out track, All I Need.
By that point, I was pretty much won back over. Smartly closing with early gem The Beat Stuff and, in my opinion, the highlight of Hannah Geogras (the album), Ode To Mom, the set ended on its best possible note.
Sure, okay. Earlier in the evening I was disappointed this wasn’t another Hannah Georgas This Is Good-era concert, but the years in between returned to me a more mature and focused Hannah. While that youthful energy that permiated previous performances was muted, it was far from estinguished.
And to tell you the truth, I’ve since given her self-titled album the attention it deserves, and (shhhh!) I actually kind of liked it. Lesson learned: sometimes you have to divorce your feelings of expectation from what is being presented, and approach each new piece of art with an open mind devoid of the context of what has come before for full a pure and honest experience.
I wish I could go back in time and re-live this night with my newfound appreciation of the album.
Oh, wait… I can. This is a great sounding recording that allows me to do just that. Maybe this time you’ll come with me?
06. Lovers Breakdown
09. What You Do To Me
10. The Deep End
12. Thick Skin
17. The Waiting Game
18. All I Need
21. The Beat Stuff
22. Ode To Mom