As an added bonus, opening the night was John Sponarski of Portage & Main. He took the stage armed only with an acoustic guitar, the occasional harmonica, and his secret weapon, Savannah Wellman of Redbird helping on vocals. John played a set of his own solo songs, which were a little more countrified than the roots-rock of Portage & Main, and his voice a little more gruff, contrasting nicely with Savannah's lovely voice.
The songs were personal and full of emotion, as John told the stories behind them between songs. He admitted it was only his second time playing solo after he flubbed a song, but that can be somewhat forgiven as he also explained that some of the songs were a mere two days old; even the "oldest" ones had only been written a couple months ago.
My favourite of the set was the last song, a passionate song that was equal parts celebration and lamentation as a reaction to a band breaking up, with a bit of a sing along. It was a great song, and I am not sure if John plans to do more solo shows, or get some hired guns, but it would sound killer with a full band giving it their all.
Before Elliott BROOD even stepped on stage, the packed crowd was already buzzing, and there was an explosion of enthusiasm as the trio started off with "Will They Bury Us?" from their latest album, Days Into Years. They played a lengthy set that spanned their entire ten years, and those years of experience has refined their live show to a well oiled machine of "death country".
They are an incredible live band, full of energy and fiery passion. Everything from the songs to the banter seemed effortless, Steve's incredibly tight drumming, Mark switching between guitar and banjo and ukulele, Casey playing guitar while playing bass pedals with his feet.
They got the crowd into early on with the massive sing along to "Oh Alberta", everyone clapping and stomping along, and it hardly slowed down from there; even the the softer and more sombre "Northern Air" had an intensity to it. "The Valley Town" garnered another huge sing along, and they wrapped up the set with "Fingers and Tongues".
But they were only off stage for a moment before jumping back in, somehow upping the energy and intensity with the instrumental barn burner "Chuckwagon", and the night came to and end with the absolutely explosive "Write It All Down For You" and every single person stomping and "hey! hey! hey!"-ing along. It is normally an impressive song to see live, but with the culmination of all the energy and emotion in the room, I am surprised the floor wasn't stomped clean through.
Elliott BROOD is normally a very impressive live show, but put them in a small venue filled with the most passionate crowd I've seen in a long time, and you have one unforgettable show. I can only hope they'll be back to the Media Club for their twentieth year anniversary.
Will They Bury Us?, T-Bill, Wolfgang, Oh Alberta, President (35), Garden River, The Bridge, Rusty Nail, Northern Air, The Trail, Bowling Green, Lindsay, If I Get Old, Only At Home, The Banjo Song, Old Dan Tucker [traditional cover], The Valley Town, Hold You, Fingers and Tongues.
(encore) Chuckwagon, Johnny Rooke, Write It All Down For You.