Earlier this year, Joey Landreth released his debut solo album, Whiskey, exactly two years after the award winning and critically acclaimed release of Let It Lie by The Bros. Landreth in 2015. Since the release, Landreth has been busy on the road, playing the songs from the new album, as well as working on new material for his solo follow-up, and a new album from The Bros. Landreth. It’s a heavy workload, including recording sessions in Toronto this week leading up to Christmas, but it hasn’t taken a single thing away from his performances on stage.
Roman Clarke opened the show, and the Manitoba native, and member of The Middle Coast, started the night with wit and talent.
Clarke also released new music in 2017, with his EP, Looking For Mine, dropping in September, following The Making Of: from The Middle Coast in April. And on Monday night he played the Toronto audience some of the 2017 releases as he sat at his keyboard.
Roman Clarke’s voice has a depth that will catch you off guard if you’re not ready for it. It’s smooth and strong, with the gentle vulnerability it needs to carry the soft and emotional moments that come when needed in his storytelling and songs. And when he’s not singing, Clarke is funny, engaging with the crowd through jokes that allow for a feeling of comfort and ease during his captivating solo performance.
During his time on stage, the early crowd at The Drake Underground heard Roman roll through songs from his EP including, Waiting, Let You Fall, and Looking For Mine. And while we don’t know Roman’s 2018 plans or schedule, we can tell you that we hope to see him again in Toronto, either solo or with The Middle Coast, or if we’re lucky, both.
As Joey Landreth prepared to start his set, the Queen Street West audience moved forward, getting closer to the stage and the man they came to see. And, when Landreth took the stage, accompanied by Meg Dolovich on bass and Michael Carbone on drums, they gave all of their attention to the stage.
I’ve said before that Joey Landreth can be mesmerizing on stage, and he proved it in Toronto on Monday night. From the opening notes of Hard As I Can, Landreth had the crowd all in, it was pindrop quiet (aside from the instruments on stage) and there was a feeling of peace and calm as folks gathered at The Drake Underground let the music wash over them.
To watch and listen to Joey Landreth on guitar is something that is hard for me to describe. You can see it on YouTube and Facebook as he plays onstage or alone in a room, his skill is incredible. And when you go ahead and add his songwriting and singing to the equation, you can feel the emotion drip from both his strings and his words. It’s a combination that not many can boast, and it’s special to witness.
In the middle of the set, Landreth gave Meg and Michael a break, taking the stage to himself, and allowing his voice and guitar to stand alone in the spotlight. It became super clear in that time that Joey Landreth could captivate a room in any city, on any stage, any time he wanted to give it a go.
During his set, Joey Landreth gave life to songs from his 2017 album, Whiskey, and The Bros. Landreth’s, Let It Lie, as well as covers and new songs that we’ll have to hope for in 2018. The crowd swayed and sang along to Made Up Mind, Time Served, Still Feel Gone, Gone Girl, Let It Lie, and Whiskey. And when Joey came back to the stage alone for his encore, playing Leonard Cohen’s Bird On A Wire, the crowd got quiet and attentive one more time as the show came to a gentle landing.
Monday night was the second chance I’d had to see Joey Landreth live in 2017, and both lived up to every hope and expectation. It was lovely to add drums and bass to the Toronto show, just as it was amazing to see him solo in Oshawa. And if I’m lucky enough to see him again in 2017, solo or with the band, I’ll be a happy dude.