July 5, 2017

Murder by Death, Tiger Army, Tim Barry score a win at Venue Vancouver

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I need to get a message to the members of Tiger Army, Murder by Death as well as Tim Barry. If anyone could help me out with this, I would really appreciate it. It’s not much, can you just tell all of those people that concerts are not competitions? Because damn, every one of those bands played like their lives depended on it this Monday at Venue.

And to be honest, if it were a competition, I don’t think I could judge a winner. And yes, the concert was moved from the Commodore Ballroom to Venue across the street which, I believe, didn’t make any difference.

Perhaps afraid he might waste a single second, Tim Barry jumped on stage at eight o’clock on the dot, set up his guitar and without even a moment to greet the crowd he jumped into his first song. Barry being the only musician I had not heard before going to the concert I was surprised to find an American country/folk singer from Richmond, Virginia standing on opening up the show for Murder by Death. I wasn’t sure he was going to fit in with the rest of the bands on the bill, with his good ole’ boy demeanor, but so many things about Tim Barry and his performance won me over. First, I loved the energy of the performance and how he pushed anger and righteous indignations out of beautiful folk songs so effortlessly. Also, I love how Barry would stop in the middle of a song to tell a story about how a woman in Tampa, Florida would heckle him by yelling “Fuckin Fine!” when he sang the question “How’s it goin there on your own?” And the thing that endeared me most about Tim Barry, other than the great music, was that he was so respectful of the crowd and of my city and of his own music. He had the best manners from a musician I have ever seen, and I think the crowd welcomed him for it.

If Tim Barry set the bar for the show, then Murder by Death, the headliner, raised that bar. Murder by Death played an overwhelmingly amazing set. Riding the line between somber and loud, they used every member of their band to their advantage, pushing the guitar, drums and bass combo to drive the songs forward and leaving space for the cello and keyboards to create a dark atmosphere within their sound. Stopping every so often for a little crowd banter, Adam Turia, let the crowd know what the tone of their performance would be, dark. And dark it was, with songs about curses and suicides and drowning in rivers, the only way they seemed to get away with it was that their songs were also very pretty. About halfway through their set, they offered up a cover of David Bowie’s ‘Moonage Daydream,’ which was very well done, adding a little more of a hardscrabble, uptempo zeal to their performance. Performing as a unit and on their individual instruments, the only thing Murder by Death left on the stage was their blood and sweat.

Tiger Army, throwing their hat into the competition, closed out the show. Without question Tiger Army had the best opening of the night, coming onto a dark stage lit only by red lights, bluegrass playing in the background, a guitar tech waiting on stage with Nick 13’s guitar. Tiger Army comes on, sets up and starts playing with their backs turned to the crowd, and as the intro swells the suddenly lights burst on and Tiger Army swings around to face the crowd and jumps into their set. Although shorter than Murder By Death’s set, Tiger Army injected some fun into the night after some quite serious performances by Murder By Death and Tim Barry. Even when singing about the devil, Tiger Army looks like they’re having fun on stage. And don’t get it confused their performance was world class, with Djordje Stijepovic playing the hell out of his double bass, almost outperforming Nick 13 and Mike Fasano hitting the drums so hard I could hear them in my throat. But I think my favourite part of their set was when they covered Link Wray’s ‘Rumble,’ which was a total surprise to me but also quite fitting.

If the concert were a competition, I think the only loser would the Commodore Ballroom for missing out on such an amazing show.

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written by Conor Graham/photos by Conor Graham



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