What happens when you have a multi platinum selling headliner, then you add multi platinum selling support act, and then add a relatively “new” act embarking on his first national tour? You get an overload to the audio/visual senses! Mariana’s Trench, in full stride on their Never Say Die national tour held their fans in the palm of their hands Friday night at the jam packed Molson Centre in Barrie, Ontario.
Opening with the title track from their new album Astoria, and a hooded frontman Josh Ramsay belting out the lyrics, Mariana’s Trench proved they were all about a complete entertainment experience. Ramsay was pretty spunky, loved to interact with the crowd, and even proclaimed his preference for “interaction and intimacy with the entire audience”. Oh hell yeah, he got intimate.
The band pulled the crowd into their music, and with the extensive stage setup they also took themselves out to their fans constantly. The audience, in kind, jumped and fist pumped and sang along throughout the entire show. I don’t give away much of a band’s set list or major production surprises. So let’s just say, if you could only get seats at the far end of the venue, you are in for a treat. Also, get ready for a unique vantage point for Josh’s vocals on the song Stutter. That’s just a “heads up” for you. The set list builds throughout the show, with the right mix of high energy and lower tempo songs.
I will report that Josh, true to his word, completed a lap of the Barrie Molson Centre giving his admirers a great up close and personal performance. Cells phones were snapping pics and taking video like mad. He thrilled one sign carrying girl with a short dance then carried on so as not to disappoint the rest of the crowd. The song Shut Up And Kiss Me was a standout for this part of the show. Of course, Cross My Heart was also a huge crowd pleaser, and the boys played a great encore as well.
What a great show. Loved it. Look for them as they move around Ontario before heading out west to complete the tour.
Getting the crowd pumped for Trench was Burlington, Ontario sensation Walk Off The Earth. This is an eclectic mix of phenomenal vocal and musical talent that has garnered success and a strong fan following globally. WOTE is nominated for 3 Juno awards this year and we can see why. Cloaked in dark hoodies, the band members started the show by gathering around the dimly lit drum kit, and rhythmically pounding on floor toms while the duo of trumpets sounded. Talk about a dramatic entrance.
Boosted by their viral You Tube success, WOTE brings some amazing feel-good uplifting songs and such a dynamic stage presence. Supporting their new album Sing It All Away, they left it all on stage. I must say, it was pretty even between them and Trench for fan support. The crowd were singing along and very supportive of WOTE. How could you not. As a photographer for this event, I loved how they interacted not only with the fans, but with my lens. They gave me some great looks! Love that.
Predictably, the stand out for me was when all five gathered around a guitar, all playing simultaneously on various parts of the instrument. If you’re part of the several hundred million You Tube viewers then you know exactly what I mean. This is just the kind of unique approach that Walk Off The Earth bring to their music and it totally works. I watched them play and trade off on numerous instruments including: trumpets, keys, drums, guitars, kazoo, bass, didgeridoo, and Sarah Blackwood was strumming a ukulele! There were even a couple of contraptions that I cannot even name. Again, it works so well. Such a talented group of musicians, they got me pumped up along with everyone else in the arena and their harmonies are glorious.
Kicking off the night was Vancouver’s Kieran Mercer. The 604 Records artist is on his first national tour. He brought a smooth voice, nice guitar work and a 4 piece band who all arrived on stage in matching red jackets. He quipped about them “looking like they were from a theatre” which brought some laughs. He connected pretty quickly with the crowd and certainly showed his experience in music.
Kieran is out supporting his new EP Help Me Help You. Mercer also managed to get the audience to simultaneously snap a cell phone pic of him mid way through his set. This was a great start to an awesome night of music. Watch for more from Kieran!
Scott Burns / @SBurnsImages