Of all the gigs I’ve been to in the last few months, this was one of the ones I’d been most looking forward to.
Having been a fan of these guys from their pre-Sadlecreek signing days thanks to the wonders of the internet (and, admittedly, a downloaded version of the album when they self released it) I had been following them for a while. I couldn’t have been happier for them once they got signed and started to get more and more well known.
With the show at the Lexington being a sellout, it was nice to know that I wasn’t alone in loving the band but it is an odd thing to know that a band that has done almost nothing to promote their work over here has such a following.
The gig itself was touch and go as to whether it would go ahead thanks to some volcano thing going on at the time (it was in the news a fair bit supposedly). Thankfully, the band managed to make it to London for their first EVER UK show but minus one keyboard which felt the wrath of aerial travel.
Meeting up with a few mates, we made our way up to the venue in the Lexington, which may just be one of my favourite venues in London. We arrived a bit late to catch the first support act so had a bit of time to kill before the next one so we had a quick peek at the merch stand to find Nils himself behind the desk. After a brief chat, I finally managed to get myself a copy of the album on 12″ (a mistake in hindsight; bit of a pain to carry that round for the rest of the evening) and that now proudly sits in a frame above my desk.
Anyway, I digress. After taking up our spots in front of the stage the support came out in the form of Dignan Porch. These guys were one of those support bands that I’m now more than used to; nothing particularly exciting but nothing wrong with them so you end up listening but don’t really remember much of their sound. They had a bit of a Britpop revival sound to them and the band they most reminded me of were The Stands (anyone remember them??) As I say, nowt wrong with them but nothing to write home about. Sorry guys.
But that doesn’t matter anyway as I wasn’t there to see them. I was here for The Rural Alberta Advantage and I was just a tad excited as they came out and isn’t it lovely when a band performs just as you hoped they would.
Unsurprisingly, they kicked off with ‘The Ballad of the RAA’ which sounded as lovely as you’d expect and this was coupled with ‘Rush Apart’ which kicked the gig off properly. From there on in, the band played the album in it’s entirety with every song sounded fantastic live. It did seem to take a while for Nils to find his voice as it started off a little shakey which had me worried, but it soon settled into it’s unusual nasal, Canadian drawl that just works.
The rest of the band were also on form with Paul drumming away as if he was trying to force his arms off which (like I say many a time) doesn’t come across so much on the record but was really noticeable live. And then there was the lovely Amy who glues the band together. While Nils does his thing on vocals and guitars and Paul thrashes away on his drumkit, Amy flits between beautiful backing vocals, keyboards, extra percussion and even the xylophone to provide the total sound that I love about them.
The songs were rather poignant on the night as the band took a bit of time to talk about the songs and what they meant. It doesn’t take a high level music critic to get the jist of the album with it’s songs about growing up in small towns in Canada and the life that this leads. But on the night, the band gave us more of an insight, particularly with ‘Frank, AB’ where Nils talked about how it was a town utterly devestated by a landslide and was a place he drove past regularly. All this made the song even more special and you got the feeling that if they had the time, they’d have done a similar thing with every track.
So along with ‘Frank, AB’, ‘Dethbridge’ and the sublime ‘Edmonton’ (one of my favourite songs. Ever.), we were also treated to a cover version of ‘Eye Of The Tiger’, a song I’d already seen a video of on youtube but it was great to see other peoples’ reactions to it. And as well as this, we even got to hear some new material which sounds like a second album could be just as special.
With the encore coming to an end, the band came off the stage to perform ‘Goodnight’ in amongst the crowd which was a ftting, beautiful end to the night.
I am so glad I got a ticket to this show to finally see one of my favourite bands perform live and I’m so glad that they didn’t let me down. As always, I did seem to end up standing next to the one idiot in the crowd who insisted on clapping along to every track, even if there was nothing to clap along to (and it shouldn’t be physically possible to clap that out of time as well) but even this couldn’t spoil the evening. And I think I may have fallen in love with Amy just as much as I have with the RAA’s music. I just hope they don’t leave it so long to come back.
The Rural Alberta Advantage – Goodnight (live)
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