. : : March 26th, 2021 : : .
Whitehorse has remained one of the hardest working, most visible bands during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The band had a weekly Happy Hour Facebook and Twitter streaming concert, put on for free, for about 3 months. They launched a Patreon, performed a couple of Christmas-adjacent sets from the head office of their record label, released an album, performed a set at a movie theatre drive-in, launched the Horseshoe Hootenanny live stream series with a record release party for their disc, Modern Love, and performed another set live with the Kitchener-Waterloo Orchestra.
This recording, of the aforementioned record release party at the Horseshoe Tavern, was the first full-band show (out of necessity, due to pandemic restrictions) since 2019 if I’m not mistaken, and features a familiar line up of Ryan Gavel, Johnny Obercian, and Gregory MacDonald (who seems to be a part of every second name-recognizable band in the country!) alongside husband and wife core duo Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet.
The performance was broken into two sets: the first, an introduction to the Modern Love album, with a selection of six of the dozen songs featured. The second was a quick run through of several obvious, greatest hits tracks from their earlier catalogue.
As with any live stream concert, the (no pun intended) radio silence between songs and somewhat awkward bantering-with-no-one where you would usually expect some cheering, clapping, heckling, or general chatter can be a bit distracting if not jarring — but don’t let that dissuade you from enjoying what is otherwise a solid set from the band.
It’s worth noting that it’s not only the first live performance of a few of the Modern Love tracks, but the first full band performance of each of them. You can intuit a couple of them will have staying power that will be staples in Whitehorse sets for years to come.
The sound quality, as expected from a ticketed, paid, broadcast performance, is top notch — with only occasional blips, bleeps, glitches and drop-outs typical of a live streamed performance that barely detract from an otherwise immaculate recording.
With over a dozen previous recordings of the band available on this website it’s easy for me to forget that every recording may be a listener’s first Whitehorse experience. Let me underscore that Melissa and Luke are undoubtedly the indisputable musical power couple in the country. They both have a bevy of successful, lauded solo albums before officially titling their on-going collaboration and commanding radio airwaves nationally. Luke’s known as one of Canada’s greatest popular blues guitarists, and Melissa has a sugar-sweet powerhouse of a voice. Collectively, they are musical prodigies, unbound by genre and convention without sacrificing a pop accessibility.
Which is a really long-winded way of saying, “Hey. Check out the streaming MP3 clip below, and if you like what you hear, grab the whole tape. It’s worth your time and attention, eh?” What are you waiting for?
- I Wanna Make Promises (That I Can’t Keep)
- Liar Liar
- Radio Silence
- Relic in the New Age
- Run Run Run
- I Am Trying to Break Your Heart [Wilco]
- [encore / banter]
- Baby What’s Wrong
- Sweet Disaster
- Emerald Isle#
- Die Alone]
- Devil’s Got a Gun