By Graeme Wiggins
March 20, 2017
VANCOUVER – Despite having been in town fairly recently with four shows at the Cobalt, it was clear that the Japandroids’ return to Vancouver was something special. Not only was it the last day of their tour, but they were back home, headlining the Commodore, something that clearly meant a lot to them. For the two Vancouver boys, the Commodore represented something important; it was a childhood dream come true.
From the opening slow build of show opener “Near to the Wild Heart of Life” they left nothing back, with a long set filled with songs from their whole catalog. By the end of the night, singer/guitarist Brian King was pretty hoarse, but audience sing-a-longs were loud and constant, covering for him pretty well. The end of the tour was also clearly on their mind, as King made multiple references to how certain songs perfectly fit what they were living. And while that’s fairly literal to do so for “North East South West” it illustrates the grueling nature of touring more so when done for a song like “In a Body Like a Grave.”
The songs from the latest album Neat To The Wild Heart of Life, fit into the set quite nicely. Their slightly lower tempos and less anthemic qualities gave the set a nicely controlled ebb and flow. Older songs were presented with anecdotes about their history in Vancouver’s lesser venues like the Biltmore, Lamplighter, Pub 340 and such, or dedicated to any number of their friends in attendance. And while King lamented that “Young Hearts Spark Fire” is more of “Friday or Saturday song” and the show was on a Monday the crowd didn’t seem to care, singing along loudly to all the “whoas” and “yeahs.” King told the crowd that if they took anything from the show they should take the words of “No Known Drink Or Drug” home with them, which perfectly encapsulated the vibe: two unpretentious local boys made good who clearly love how far they’ve come and appreciate the fans that brought them there.
One might have thought that they left it all on stage for penultimate song, “The House That Heaven Built” but they carried on through, ending the night with Craig Finn joining them onstage for a blistering cover or AC/DC’s “If You Want Blood (You Got It)” which involved blood capsules, and King playing guitar on the shoulders of some guy from the side of the stage.Commodore Ballroom, Japandroids