KING COBB STEELIE with the DEARS, at the Horseshoe, December 2. Tickets: $10. Attendance: 350. Rating: NNN
you go on after the dears at your own peril.Even on a night when their set is built around new material and vocalist Murray Lightburn is keeping his dramatic howling to a minimum, the group are utterly deadly live, constantly threatening to explode and easily commanding the room's unwavering attention.
As the Montreal art rock band wrapped up their apocalyptic 10- minute instrumental opener Saturday, you had to feel concerned for headliners King Cobb Steelie. How would they top that?
Some folks left the Horseshoe rather than find out, but those who stuck around saw the band re-establish themselves. Their recent Mayday disc captures the band in an odd state of flux, without a live drummer and with a host of guest vocalists filling in. It was an ambitious step, but also an uneven one.
Saturday's set removed much of that uncertainty. Just back from a cross-country tour, King Cobb Steelie are re-energized by constant playing. And the addition of Tamara Williamson on guitar and vocals, plus the return of occasional drummer Sam Cino, has brought back some of the ballast the group have been lacking.
The well-sideburned Cino added a driving edge to the beats, while Williamson's guitar crunch beefed up the band's churning sound. It might have baffled the hippie dancers up front, but in that setting a gritty stomp through King Cobb Steelie's punked-up first single, One's A Heifer, made perfect sense.