Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Marianas Trench Concert Review By: Christine Albrecht

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Croatian Cultural Centre, November 5 2007

Marianas Trench delivered a solid final performance in Vancouver, Sunday night at the Croatian Cultural Centre to a large all-ages crowd. I say final performance as singer, Josh Ramsay, made it clear that Sunday’s performance would be the band’s final outing after one and a half years of touring and promoting their Fix Me CD release.

Fans definitely received their money’s worth as MT had three bands opening for them at this all ages venue. 16 MM started the night off, followed by Lotus Child with the third musical offering from Vancouver band, The Sessions.

Here’s a band (The Sessions) that is worthy of a larger following. The Croatian Cultural Centre is not the most acoustically pleasant of venues and a reviewer would be foolhardy to believe the vocals/ chords played in this venue actually represented a band’s talent. However, The Sessions actually sounded amazing in the CCC. That had me wondering what their studio sound was like as every lyric and note was crystal clear during Sunday’s gig. Their sound was upbeat, radio friendly, and singer, Josh Abel, had a genuine rapport with the crowd. I believe MT has introduced a new fan base to this Vancouver (and still unsigned!) indie act.

I am not sure if an award is given to a band for best fan acknowledgement, but if there was such an award, Marianas Trench would deserve it - hands down. They made themselves available for fan interaction as early as 6:00 p.m. at the CCC with MT drummer Ian Cassleman still manning the merchandise table 30 minutes prior to taking the stage. They still answer emails, pose for pictures and generally keep an upbeat public appearance despite their exhaustive touring schedule.

MT opened the set with Say Anything and kept up the energy through to their last song. At times, singer Josh Ramsay appeared to be wondering aloud why the crowd was quieter than usual (although they seemed loud enough to me). In retrospect, by the time MT took the stage their faithful following had been waiting patiently for four hours. Combine that fact with the audience fan age being sixteen plus - I would say that the crowd appreciation was still at an all time high.

Overall, MT’s performance was strong, although Josh’s vocals needed a few songs before warming up to his usual standard. Josh appears to be ready for this upcoming break from touring and I wondered how he’s managed to protect his vocals given such a demanding tour schedule. Josh stills maintains that friendly banter with the audience between songs; sharing personal information as if we were visiting informally. He noted the presence of his parents (and shared the tidbit that the person who ‘nails’ him in the head with an apple in the Shake Tramp video is actually his father, Miles Ramsay). Josh kibitzed a lot with Mike Ayley on stage but didn’t seem to engage as much with Matt Webb. Perhaps tonight was an exception, but it appeared they barely acknowledged one another - pretty difficult given the stage proximity.

Marianas Trench is planning to hit the studio for work on their second CD which will hopefully result in more exposure (especially American) for this popular Canadian band. They have paid their dues and it is time for some universal recognition.

I do have one complaint regarding the concert, and this complaint actually extends to the majority of band gigs I have attended of late. I do not like being held captive/coerced into chanting and applauding for an encore. Given that Marianas Trench’s Shake Tramp is one of the more popular songs from their CD Fix Me, to imply the band would perform a gig without singing Shake Tramp is absurd. So when the band ‘ended’ its set, I was slightly perturbed as I knew MT would return onstage to perform the song, but I am not sure if fans were aware that this was a ‘given’. I did not like being manipulated into cheering and clapping for a song that should have been included in their regular set.

Please note that MT is not alone in doing this staged encore routine - it seems to be the standard. A band plays the majority of songs from an album and then retires knowing the audience will make enough noise to encourage a return to the stage to perform their more popular songs.

What ever happened to genuine encores? Once upon a time, bands would perform all of their hits; only returning to the stage after an extended noisy plea/encouragement from an audience responding to an excellent performance. It used to be an audience’s ultimate compliment and in return, the band would pull out an obscure album track, perhaps a cover tune or an equally rare musical nugget which made the performance furthermore unique or special. Rarely did a band hold out their popular tunes in exchange for crowd adoration via an encore.

Obviously, I do not like this current ‘encore’ trend and I hope MT does not continue with this superficial formula. It merely reduces an encore to a ‘given’ part of the set, which in turn devalues any impact an encore would have had originally.

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