AMANDA MARSHALL, BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE MAKE BOLD RETURNS TO FESTIVAL STAGE
Amanda Marshall / Broken Social Scene CityFolk, Lansdowne Park Reviewed Friday
The triumphant return of Amanda Marshall to the concert stage after a 16-year hiatus was nearly upstaged by the equally fierce return of Toronto indie rock collective Broken Social Scene.
For the second night in a row, CityFolk featured an opening act that could have just as easily served as a headliner on any other night — Thursday’s stirring performance by Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats left fans chanting for more before Jack Johnson’s headlining set. And on Friday, it felt like Broken Social Scene were just warming up when their time was up.
Marshall, who hasn’t released new music since 2001, but has hinted for years at a return to the stage and studio, seemed just as happy as her fans were that she was back in the saddle, launching her long-awaited headlining set with her 1999 smash hit Ride.
“It’s been a really, really long time, Ottawa,” she said. “The last time I was here, there was no Uber, no Snapchat, there was no Netflix — what were we all doing with our spare time? The world has changed, Ottawa.”
Yes, the world may have changed, but Marshall sounded almost exactly the same as she did all those years ago, before an ugly management dispute forced her exit from the spotlight.
Dressed in fire engine red, and with a crack seven-piece band in tow, with a pair of backup singers augmenting Marshall’s always-powerful vocals, Marshall led long-serving fans on a trip through the Canadian singles charts, circa 1996.
“You hear this song in the grocery store, so I know you know it. It’s tattooed on your soul, Ottawa,” she joked, introducing Fall From Grace, from the selftitled debut that launched her to Can-rock royalty.
Fans joined in the chorus of Sunday Morning After, rocked along in beat on Until We Fall In and Last Exit to Eden, made Marshall feel as if she were Sitting on Top of the World, and swayed and sang along to every word of If I Didn’t Have You and Trust Me (This is Love).
On Trust Me, Marshall took a cheeky detour to tease a chorus of Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.
By the time she played her biggest hit Birmingham, it was clear that for one girl in particular on this night, it was a whole lotta fun.
Fans of the revolving-door cast of Toronto indie rock icons Broken Social Scene finally got their fix, though they didn’t have to wait nearly as long — the band’s latest Hug of Thunder was delivered this summer after a sevenyear break between albums.
The 10-piece collective wasted no time making up for their absence, with frontman Kevin Drew promising at the outset: “We came here to rock out our guts for the next hour.”
They began by picking up right where they left off, with the slow-burn of World Sick, from 2010’s Forgiveness Rock Record, building into a blaze of guitar riffs as core members Drew, Andrew Whiteman and Brendan Canning rocked out with electric guitars raised to the heavens, while Charles Spearin laid down the bass over Justin Peroff’s furious backbeat.
The party was only getting started.
A two-piece horn section joined for the rousing chorus of KC Accidental, before the band invited their pals from Stars, singer Amy Millan and multiinstrumentalist Evan Cranley, with new singer Ariel Engle rounding out the sound with her powerful harmonies on 7/4 Shoreline.
By the song’s spirited end, there were no less than nine musicians lined up along the front of the stage under a swirl of purple lights, and the crowd couldn’t help but feel the good vibes pouring from the stage.
The band overcame a few early technical glitches that would barely have been noticed given the sheer number of the band’s membership making up for any hiccups.
The crew managed to dig Engle’s vocal mic out from being buried in the thick mix just in time for her featured lead vocals on the new tune Stay Happy.
After lead guitarist Whiteman stepped up to the mic to lead the charge on Fire Eye’d Boy, Canning nearly flubbed his turn at lead vocal on the “old school song” Stars and Sons, from their 2002 breakthrough You Forgot It In People.
He finally found the correct guitar cable — “The green one, not the grey one! There’s a lot of cables up here,” he joked — though the old school fans didn’t seem to mind, and needed no prompting in joining the clapalong chorus.
“This is the first day back at the office, folks,” he said, as the band embarks on its first major North American tour in years.
CityFolk continues Saturday with Father John Misty headlining.
Broken Social Scene perform on the City Stage during Day 3 of CityFolk Festival 2017 at Lansdowne Park.
Son Little lays down some licks.