Montreal’s Islands have ridden their success of their debut album ‘Return To The Sea’ to modest success. Since then the band has undergone some lineup turmoil and it’s been reflected in their music.

The opening act was Guelph’s the Magic, who provided yet more evidence that the Royal City punches far above its weight when it comes to good bands. The combo was started by Barmitzvah Brothers’ Geordie Gordon and his brother Evan. The two recorded a tour EP which suggests some exposure to Stephen Merritt. Live, the band packs a lot more punch, in thanks to a sonic boost from three other Guelph musicians: the D’Urberville’s guitarist Tim Bruton, Two-Minute Miracles drummer Aaron Curtis and sometime Barmitzvah Brother Sylvie Smith on keyboards and vocals. Geordie Gordon’s croon – to say nothing of his black jacket, white tie and the male band members’ cummerbunds and sharp musicianship – are going to remind a lot of people of late era Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry. Their set was very well received, despite a few post-show jibes about Gordon’s lounge singer duds.

Islands' followed the Magic with an excellent set of its own. The band used to pair downer lyrics with peppy pop and curveball tunes incorporating rap and other oddities. On its new album ‘Arm’s Way’, the band’s music is a dark melodic churn with the same sinister ambience of Pleasure Forever and the Afghan Whigs.

Islands’ sound is also reflected in their stage gear. Once, the whole band wore white; now they all year black (though a few holdouts still wear white sneakers; replacing one’s footgear is apparently a trickier business).

The band’s darker outlook is paired with a far sharper sound.

Islands seem to have finally settled on a stable lineup: The lineup on stage was the same one that performed at Capital Music Hall in October 2006, when the departures of drummer J’aime Tambour and guitarist Jim Guthrie were still being felt. This time around the band hit all their marks with gusto, notwithstanding the refusal of Nick Thorburn’s guitar pedals to work.

“This is how we used to sound when we all young and innocent” Thorburn jibed before the band launched into a bouncy rendition of ‘Whitney, Don’t Call Me Bobby’.

For a band whose latest work has been unjustly slated in some quarters, one couldn’t ask for a more consistently excellent performance.

Set List :

Kids Don’t Know Shit
The Arm
Pieces of You
Where There’s A Will There’s A Whalebone
I Feel Evil Creepin’ In
Life In Jail
Don’t Call Me Whitney, Bobby
J'Aime Vous Voire Quitter
Abominable Snowman



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