Thursday, March 10, 2011

Morcheeba at The Commodore

The radiantly beautiful Skye Edwards took the stage, calm and cool, with no dramatic effect, and went straight into Morcheeba's biggest fan favourite, “The Sea”. She has made an elegant return to Morcheeba and, despite the turmoil that saw her two-album and 7-year departure, she seems to have hardly skipped a beat. The second number detoured the show into an unexpected reggae medley of “Friction”, a track from their second album that most casual fans would not likely know, but I think the intended effect was to warm up the crowd with a danceable beat, and it worked wonderfully.

They continued cruising through the hits collection with “Otherwise” and “Never An Easy Way”, reminding the crowd of their glorious reign over downtempo electronic music in the late 90s and early 2000s. And then, it was time to show the crowd that Morcheeba, indeed, has not skipped a beat since Skye's return. Morcheeba has a reputation for, with every new album, adding at least a handful of what the fans would call “classics”. Their new album, Blood Like Lemonade, clearly follows the trend. First, Skye and the band hit us with “Even Though”, which sounds a lot like old-school Morcheeba. Then, after pleasing the Vancouver crowd with a great cover of “a song about drugs” by Arlo Guthrie (yeah, I had to look it up—it's “Coming Into Los Angeles”), they officially introduced the new album with the title track, “Blood Like Lemonade”. Morcheeba's sound has evolved minimally over the years, with the exception of the two albums absent Skye Edwards, but “Blood Like Lemonade” and then “Crimson”, made it crystal clear that Morcheeba is not just riding on the coattails of their own past success.

“Crimson” was really the peak of Skye's slow crescendo that night. She sang the chorus, “Hellbound, hopeless for you” with wave after wave of fiery passion in her voice. To be honest, I was so mesmerized, I decided at that moment, that this woman has just taken her place among what I consider the most transcendent voices in music. Then, after bouncing a few old non-hits off the crowd for the older fans, it was time for some crowd participation as Skye led us into “Beat of the Drum”, from the new album, which turned out to be the most aggressive and powerful song of the night. The crowd chanted “TO THE BEAT OF THE DRUM!” while Skye egged us on until we were louder than our Seattle rivals at the previous tour stop.

The band closed with the “Blindfold”, a beautiful track off their second album Big Calm, and one of my favourites. The instant it was over, the band slipped away behind the curtains and the crowd erupted in a roar like nothing I have heard at The Commodore before. The band returned quickly and graciously showered us with a triple encore. The encore was essentially a medley, blending the acoustic “Over and Over” through to a mash up of “Be Yourself” with Lady Gaga's “Just Dance”, followed by “Rome Wasn't Built in a Day”, which featured a Bond themed intro, with Skye singing “From Russia with Love”.

Morcheeba - Even Though (Mustang Remix) (YSI)

Morcheeba - Blood Like Lemonade, starring Robert Forster