In the run-up to their album release and tour with Broken Social Scene, Land of Talk played a special one-off show in New York City. The Montreal band first began turning heads back in 2006 with Applause Cheer Boo Hiss EP (QRO review), and started moving up the touring ladder last year. The trio took time off to record their upcoming debut full-length, Some Are Lakes (QRO review), which is out this October on Saddlecreek, and will soon be touring it as opener for Canadian all-stars, Broken Social Scene (QRO interview). But before they blow up, Land of Talk treated a friendly crowd to new and old material as they returned to Mercury Lounge (QRO venue review) on September 11th, 2008.
Dividing their set equally between Applause and Lakes, the band started with a new number, high, with a bit of a stop-start rhythm. However, it was Applause’s single “Summer Special” that really warmed up the crowd, even after Labor Day. Singer/guitarist Elizabeth Powell was in a friendly, aw-shucks kind of mood, bantering with the crowd during her (numerous) tuning changes (“One day I’ll be famous and have different guitars in different tunings…”). She asked if anyone got in a last lake swim of the season (say ‘Some Are Lakes’ out loud…), and when people cheered, she smiled and chuckled, “You did, or are you just ‘That would have been a good idea!’?”
Powell was also blown away that the crowd cheered so much when she said that Some Are Lakes was out soon, “Wow – it’s awesome people care…” The record’s title track really brought out the emotion in her voice even more (to the extent that Powell joked she might forget she also was the one playing guitar…), but with an underlying rough rhythm that only came out with more force on the following new “Bring Me Back My Heart Attack”. The pressing, jagged nature of “Heart Attack” was a little cutting at first, but just hooked more and more (and had some great ‘stop dead, then start up again’ moments – aided by one drunk fan’s rather perfectly-timed yells).
Land of Talk playing “Give Me Back My Heart Attack” live at Mercury Lounge in New York, NY:
After proclaiming their love of New York – “But for entirely selfish reasons…” (their first real show ever was at the nearby Piano’s – QRO venue review) – Powell introduced new drummer (she does seem to go through a lot of them…) Andrew Barr (of The Slip – QRO live review). In response to the healthy cheers, Powell added, “How many people are just here to see Andrew?” and “I’m a clever businesswoman, draws in more people…” Along with (still-current) bassist Chris McCarron, the trio accidentally skipped the new “Death By Fire” on the set list and jumped right to Applause with the sad expanse of “Sea Foam” and the EP’s awesomely driving and evocative opener, “Speak To Me Bones”.
Land of Talk playing “Speak To Me Bones” live at Mercury Lounge in New York, NY:
Land of Talk finally got back to “Death By Fire” after that, the high number fitting in well with the Applause lines. But Powell had to tell the crowd she couldn’t play all night long, as this was one of Mercury Lounge’s early shows (they went on at only 8:00 PM), and, “There’s a whole ‘nother show after this…” – with which the crowd booed mightily (including the particularly drunk fan, a frat boy-ish type who still knew & loved Powell’s almost ‘girl power’ material – and had a friend who amusingly took him down a notch by announcing, “Look at the asshole…”). She asked for requests – not for songs, but if everything sounded good, and if everybody was doing okay. When someone shouted to, “Bring the pain!”, Powell rejoined, “I think I broke my ankle on like the first song – so the pain’s already been brought…” She then launched in “Young Bridge”, the only Applause track making it to the Lakes (and only technically an Applause track, as it was recorded later, for the extended U.K. release – and the Lakes track is a new recording, which Powell whispered was also just plain better…). Land of Talk then finished their set with a “mellow” new number, “It’s Okay”, to simmer the night out in a flowing style.
Land of Talk playing “It's Okay” live at Mercury Lounge in New York, NY:
But the crowd wasn’t done with Land of Talk, who were practically forced by the cheers to come back on stage (no matter the fretting of the time-conscious Mercury Lounge management…). Powell thanked everyone for the umpteenth time before a wonderful rendition of Applause’s “Breaxxbaxx”. They’ll be back in the States in October with Broken Social Scene, where Powell will also serve as the latest beautiful Canadian siren to sing the female vocal parts for BSS, in the footsteps of Feist (QRO live review) and Metric’s Emily Haines (QRO live review). But the packed house at Mercury got to see them rock and talk the land all on their own…
Land of Talk playing “Breaxxbaxx” live at Mercury Lounge in New York, NY: