It was almost an all Canadian affair at Le Poisson Rouge on the evening of March 25, 2009. Two of the three bands on the bill were from the great north, while only the openers were representing for their American brethren. The lineup was Cotton Jones
, followed by The Magic
, who made way for the headliners, Human Highway
The show started promptly at 8:00 PM with Cotton Jones, who if you didn't already know is the new project by Page France front man Michael Nau and Whitney McGraw. You could tell by watching them that they weren't new to playing live music. The six-piece band expertly played through their set, giving fans a taste of some of their newer material as well as some of the more well known songs from their debut album, Paranoid Cocoon
. It was sure nice to see Nau and McGraw Harmonizing together live and in the flesh after listening to them so many times on the album. The only thing wrong with their set was that it wasn't long enough. But nevertheless it was a good way to kick things off.
The second band to play was Toronto, Ontario's The Magic. There was quite a contrast between them and the openers. The many guitars being played by Cotton Jones were replaced with keyboards and synthesizers when the Magic took over. Led by lead singer Geordie Gordon and backup Sylvie Smith the band took the audience back to what felt like an 80s dance party. Besides Geordie Gordon's charisma and some amazingly catchy synth, the best parts about this band were bassist Evan Gordon's incredible bass lines and Sylvie Smith's surprisingly powerful voice. They rolled through their set, saving the best for last, in the form of "Mr. Hollywood", which is arguably their best song.
The crowd stayed pretty quiet throughout the show. Even when headliners Human Highway took the stage they weren't treated to a round of applause until the completion of "What World", the bands opening song. It was obvious from the get-go that at least one half of Human Highway wasn't crazy about Le Poisson Rouge. After comparing the seated style venue to a mess hall, Nick Thorburn then commented about how the food must be good here judging by all the fruit flies. Despite this, the band put on a very entertaining set, and while Le Poisson Rouge wasn't exactly overflowing with people, those in attendance seemed to really enjoy the performance. They played most of the better moments from their debut LP, Moody Motorcycle
as well as a few covers, including a cover of the song Any Way That You Want Me by the Troggs. The highlight of the show however was when the other half of Human Highway, Jim Guthrie played one of his non Human Highway songs.
Overall it was a rather tame show. The crowd seemed sort of timid throughout, and only started to really hoot and holler nearing the end of Human Highway's set. This was the last show on their tour but you really couldn't tell. The true discovery of the night however was the Magic; who brought a certain level of excitement to the show that may have otherwise been lacking. -Greg Lozoff
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Human Highway on Myspace
The Magic on Myspace
Cotton Jones on Myspace