Concert Review: PAUL PRICE & THE COMPANY, MRS. JOHNSTON, RORY TAILLON (2012-02-11 @ The El Mocambo)
The El Mocambo once again played host to an excellent night of music on a Saturday night as PAUL PRICE AND THE COMPANY released their full-length album Better Days. The Indie Machine had a preview of the album in advance of this show, so I knew I was going to enjoy the night, but even so, the bands on the bill easily surpassed my expectations.
First up was RORY TAILLON, who was actually a last-minute fill-in for Ryan Malcolm of LOW LEVEL FLIGHT, who was apparently sick backstage. To get up in front of a crowd at the Elmo with almost no notice is a bit of a tall order, and to his credit, Rory rose to the challenge. Alone on stage with only an acoustic guitar, Taillon’s offering was a bit reminiscent of what I imagine a Stephen Page solo set would be. He ended up playing a short set of about five songs, and the crowd was nodding their heads along with all of them.
The real party began as PAUL PRICE AND THE COMPANY walked on stage. They’re a five-piece act, and this was actually the first show as part of THE COMPANY for both keyboard player Teri Parker and bassist Brandon Robinson – that being said, I was hooked immediately.
The set opened with a long slow build, with live-triggered samples to add to the conventional instruments. It was quickly evident that they had a very full, layered sound; there was a lot of complexity here. The band did a great job of mixing things up and keeping it interesting: Price made a mid-set switch to acoustic guitar and the band played a number of slower mid-tempo tracks; and they brought in a sax player for their burgeoning ballad “Cassiopeia”, which was a nice touch.
The title track from the album was definitely a crowd-pleasing straight-ahead pop song – easy to get into and sing along with – but ultimately I found their other songs more interesting musically.
At their core, PAUL PRICE AND THE COMPANY is a pop-rock band, with emphasis on strong melodies and simple yet effective musicianship: I knew this from listening to the record, but there seemed to be an extra element to their live show that really brought it to the next level and made them more than just a run-of-the-mill pop act.
They played for over an hour and I was still hanging on every song, which is pretty rare for me. Paul Price is clearly an excellent songwriter and THE COMPANY is a great band that allows his songs to reach their full potential.
Closing out the night was MRS. JOHNSTON: a self-described funk-rock band from the Niagara region – they were a bundle of energy and kept me grooving even though it was late in the night. The band played a number of upbeat dance tunes that grew on you the more you heard – and apart from their original material, they also played a great rendition of STEPPENWOLF’s “Magic Carpet Ride”.
Unfortunately Toronto can be a harsh mistress for out-of-town bands, and much of the crowd had dispersed by the time they started their set: it was entirely their loss. These guys have a lot of potential and I’m excited to see them continue to develop. MRS. JOHNSTON will be back in town for CMW, so make sure to check them out then if you have the chance.
If you’ve yet to hear PAUL PRICE & THE COMPANY’s Better Days, take a quick detour over to their Bandcamp page: I promise you won’t regret it.