By Christina Zimmer
November 19, 2016
VANCOUVER — After touring Europe throughout September and October, Nova Scotian indie rockers Wintersleep have returned to Canada to debut their sixth studio album The Great Detachment released in March of this year. The sold-out performance at the Commodore Ballroom starts with supporting act Fake Palms, a young Toronto-based punk pop and indie rock band. Dominated by hard, clear drums and guitar riffs with melodic vocals that come across eerie at times when singer and guitarist Mike le Riche hits the high notes, there couldn’t be a better match for Wintersleep’s melancholic rock. The crowd is already buzzing when a flute melody introduces the headliners on the stage, which features the picture from their recent album as a backdrop. Without further ado, Wintersleep start rocking the Commodore with the cheerful, energetic “Santa Fe” and rhythmic “Spirit” from the new album, which gets the excited audience dancing.
Singer and guitarist Paul Murphy is beaming when he addresses his fans with a short “How’s everyone?” and receives enthusiastic cheers in response. There is a lot of chemistry between the band and their fans even though generally, Wintersleep doesn’t do a lot of talking between songs – it’s really all about the music. Song after song, the band doesn’t fail to bring across their deep lyrics and powerful melodies authentically with a lot of passion and fun and their fans love them for it. It’s the singer’s birthday today and a dedicated fan passes a bottle of beer with a note attached through the first row. Murphy seems touched, thanking the giver of the present warmly for the birthday wishes and earning more cheers from the crowd.
“Drunk on Aluminum” from their most acclaimed album Welcome to the Night Sky sends another wave of excitement through the audience. The 2007 album release earned Wintersleep a nomination for two JUNO awards: Alternative Album of the Year and New Group of the Year in 2008. The band won the latter.
Rock- and drum-based “Jaws of Life” from their 2005 album Untitled is followed by the first mellower track of the night, “Shadowless” from the new album, which ends with a long, eerie and base-intensive outro. When the band begins to play their possibly most popular song, “Weighty Ghost,” it seems just like what the crowd has been waiting for. The cheerful mix of drums, a choir of vocals and warm accordion-style melody gets the ballroom singing along instantly. “Amerika,” again from their new album has won the 2016 Indie Awards for Single of the Year in May.
The encore opens with the electrifying “In comes the flood” from the 2012 album Hello Hum, continuing the fast-paced set list of the evening. By the time the high-quality musical performance ends with the rapid beat and heavy guitars of “Danse Macabre,” singer Paul Murphy and guitarist Tim D’eon, who has been the most active performer in terms of dancing to the music, are simply rocking the stage and their enthused audience.BC, British Columbia, Commodore Ballroom, Wintersleep