THE SILVER HEARTS at Tranzac, Saturday, January 4. Rating: NNNN
Saturday's Silver Hearts show at Tranzac - the band's first Toronto show since they played the Dakota back in November - was a triumphantly fun whirlwind set to a packed crowd. So packed, in fact, that one audience member cleared away some tables for a dance floor.
Listening to the band's albums, including No Place, Our Precious City and Dear Stranger (a 2006 collab with Andre Ethier), it's easy to lose sight of the fact that the group are a musical freight train live, barrelling at you with their strange concoction of blues, folk, ragtime, jazz and Tin Pan Alley, peppered with creepy saw solos, and sometimes sounding (in the best possible way) like you are at a wake.
The group don't take themselves too seriously - one of the songs they played was a soliloquy on the erotic life of Wookies, and by the end of the show the pianist/trumpet player was on the bar - but they aren't just kitschy either: this is tear-in-your-beer bar music at its best.
Fronted by (the very tall) Trevor "Tiny" Davis, the Silver Hearts took turns singing the tunes, with accordionist Kelly Pineault singing Danny, and harmonica player Patrick Walsh taking lead on my personal favourite, Whiskey Talkin'.
And good news: the band is planning on making a new record (its first in eight years) this year.