YSP Sound: Shad Concert Review, Nov 16 @ London Music Hall

IMG_20130991London, Ontario’s Shad released his new album, Flying Colours, October, 15th of this year and this past weekend, November, 16th he made his return home in support of that album, performing at the revamped London Music Hall with Vancouver’s We Are the City (and some other local acts).

Performance: 5/5
Setlist:4/5
Opener: 3/5
Crowd: 4/5

Let’s talk openers. On the bill: We are the city; off the bill: Casper & Treetop, The Nicest. The good news is ticket buyers weren’t expecting to get so much bang for their buck. The bad news: ticket buyers weren’t expecting what they paid for. The Nicest is a confusing duo in the context of a Shad concert. Their rap style is entirely different, lyrical content worlds apart, and the show was generally underwhelming; one member of the duo walked the stage with the inflated ego of Mr. West, asking patrons to buy him beer. Unfortunately, their music didn’t quite warrant such an offering.

Treetop was much more successful, though an equally questionable choice for Shad. That being said, it was nice to see Shad supporting young Canadian talent, and Treetop certainly were emphatic performers who played well to the crowd. They sampled “Thunderstruck” and some other iconic songs as Casper and crew (and multiplicitous guests) bounced up and down the stage to the beat.

IMG_20130982We are the City, Vancouver alt ‘indie’ rockers, were again a confusing choice, but they certainly amplified the crowd’s excitement with booming, bass and tom heavy drum beats and wailing, atmospheric dance-rock guitar riffs. That’s a really heavy-handed and long-winded way of saying, “they played weird music and people danced their asses off.” Personally, I really appreciated their experimental style and their interaction with the crowd. The band’s drummer perhaps set the bar for the night’s performances, vigorously slamming his snare drum to the point of damage before diving into the crowd during their finale–and, to digress and discuss the crowd for the night, they caught him. They picked up after the earlier openers too, singing along, scrambling over one another for free CDs and even offering drinks to the self-involved “The Nicest.”

Shad’s performance was excellent. His set-list was diverse, covering a range of his newest tracks and old favourites, opting for a cappella interludes between songs and rarely stopping to take a breather. It was clear that this was a homecoming celebration for Shad, who must have had difficulty rapping through his persisting grin. Every track, new and old, was a crowd-pleaser, danceable, rappable, and engrossing.

IMG_20131006Moreover, he bantered with the crowd, discussing the next possible track and lending an ear to the will of his fans. The end result was complete rapture, respect, and a lot of fun. Though the stage was low, security was light, and Shad was up-close and personal with fans, the crowd was entirely self-containing and controlled. People partied, and partied hard, but managed to avoid disaster.

On that note, Shad at one point killed the lights for a show-ending groove session to the outro of “Remember to Remember.” Shad took a stage dive during his vigorous delivery of the track, igniting a host of riotous celebratory action. One fan rode the wave of concert-goers up to the stage and received nothing but a thumbs-up from the London rapper, before trust-falling back into standing-room oblivion.

IMG_20131005Shad’s return to London was obviously an emotional and joyous occasion for the artist, and he made sure to translate that into a jaw-dropping show. The London Music Hall is a different venue from the last time Shad was there, and he’s certainly matured as well, but for Shad, and for his most loyal fans, Saturday’s show felt like home.

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