The Dears at Richard’s on RichardsPhotos by Birdie Hamilton
“Get ready, this one’s going to be a f***ing doozey.” – The Dears’ Murray Lightburn.
Montréal’s indie-veterans The Dears stopped by the sardine-packed Richard’s on Richards May 30, and left in their wake a sea of sing-along choir members and people demanding more and more of their orchestral-pop melodies.
To start, we’ll mention that this tour is the first in promotion of their fifth recorded effort, and that though their new album Missiles was released in October ‘08, the material was almost completely performed live, save for the new album’s title track. Despite the lack of space in the set for The Dears’ classic back catalog, they still found time to pepper the set with live perfections from both the legendary No Cities Left album, and the newer Gang of Losers LP.
They started with the slow jam “Saviour,” then followed it up with new gems “Money Babies”, and “Demons.” Their set was off to a good start and voice of The Dears, Murray Lightburn, has never sounded better. They then treated the crowd to the 1-2 punch of the newly canonized “There Goes My Outfit” and “You and I Are A Gang of Losers”, following up with an uppercut playing the absolute crowd pleaser “Lost in the Plot”. At this point, six songs into the set, they’ve already delivered what the crowd had wanted to hear. The middle of the show saw more glimpses into the new record, notable performances included: “Crisis 1 & 2” featuring Natalia Yanchak (Lightburn’s wife and mother of their 3.5 year old daughter, Neptune) on lead vocals; the can’t-help-but-head-wobble song “Hate Then Love”; Lightburn asked the crowd “what’s with all the jibberjabber” while donning a pearly white keytar for the song “Meltdown in A Major”, “Lights Off” which had some surprise guest vocals from Torq Campbell, lead male vocalist from Stars fame. As the song ended, Murray turned to Torq and told him “now THAT is how you get yourself laid.” Finally the show’s pre-encore finale, “We Can Have It,” caused Murray to drop the guitar and take the singing to the crowd using the wire-free mic to travel all around the venue. Each side of the stage got a treat of Murray-goodness, and when he jumped into the crowd, the audience’s already audible back-up vocals were made even more powerful. Left with a “thank you, goodnight,” The Dears left the stage.
The feeling after this set was something similar to when you realize that it’s actually happening around you and not just the memories you’re reliving from the last Dears show you saw – that’s right, the band is STILL that good. Perhaps it’s the new members giving a rejuvenating essence to the older, seasoned musicians of the band’s lineup; or maybe its just the fact that Lightburn and Co. aren’t in the business of wasting people’s time or money. Nonetheless, after returning from the dark for an encore, Lightburn attempted to shush the crowd before starting, asking for just ten seconds of silence. Despite his best efforts, there were a few troublemakers in the crowd, and they keep hollering. Murray cracked a smile at how outrageous a room full of adults couldn’t give a full “ten dedicated-to-silence” seconds. He shook it off, and told the crowd to “get ready, because this one is going to be a fucking doozey.” The Dears took a break and let Murray Lightburn play an impromptu acoustic version of “Who Are You, Defenders of the Universe?” before instantly leaping into “22: Death of All the Romance”. The performance of this song was probably the best I’ve ever seen it done, and their new lead guitar player hit everyone with solos left, right and centre. The Dears smashed through the song, everyone in the crowd moved. When the song ended – despite the want of a double-encore – everyone was still just as satisfied with The Dears as the house music came on.
The Dears put on a completely solid set, and though it was mostly made up of new material from their Missiles record, it all sounded like the true Dears that everyone knows and loves. Throughout the show the band’s chemistry really shinned through, and the relationship between Murray and wife-keyboardist Natalia was really cute to see. Murray and the audience had a rapport like I’ve never seen; he was really warm and open about everything, joking throughout the set. The Dears’ tour continues with only a few dates left as they make their way back east to Montréal. The best thing I could recommend is that next time you read anything about The Dears and where they’ll be, make sure you’re there. They are amazing.