SONDRE LERCHE at the Rivoli, November 6. Tickets: $10. Attendance: 100. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
joseph arthur probably made the right decision to stay in the Rivoli's front bar sipping wine rather than catch any of opener Sondre Lerche's set Wednesday. It's not that Lerche was bad -- far from it -- but it's hard to imagine Arthur wanting to follow the Norwegian upstart if he'd seen his set first-hand.Lerche's debut album, Faces Down, presents the 20-year-old songwriter as a precocious talent with a knack for churning out classic-sounding pop tunes, but it doesn't hint at his eerie star power. Solo onstage, the unassuming Lerche had a typically suspicious Toronto audience singing his bah-bah-bah back-up choruses two songs in and shouting out the correct spelling of his name three songs later.
A vocal contingent from his record label no doubt helped, but Lerche's songs stood on their own. Where Faces Down at times relies too heavily on its lavish production and swollen strings, his gamble of stripping the songs down to simple acoustic melodies paid off.
At 20, the kid seems already fully formed as a songwriter, charming enough to loosen up the crowd but talented enough to keep them quiet. Even loudmouth provincial Environment Minister Chris Stockwell, still in his suit and sipping beer at the bar, was struck silent. Look out!