Plants and Animals are one of those bands I’m happy to be a fan of. It also makes me happy seeing how big their fan base is. I’ve seen them a few times over the years, and with each time the audience gets bigger and the band seems more pleasantly surprised by it. Their modesty makes them that much more likeable. Also, their music isn’t too bad either! I’ve been following them for a while and enjoy their music a lot. There’s something about the diversity of their material that makes them very different and understated. I saw them in Montreal when they first started touring for their most recent album, “The End of That”, released in February. To be honest, I didn’t love the album at first. After seeing them perform it live, and proceeding to listen to it on repeat for a while after that, I grew to love and appreciate it. It’s different from their previous work, but still has the distinct P&A sound.
I love the feeling of introducing someone to a band you really like (who doesn’t…? It’s a good feeling). I was very happy to have a friend join me who had never heard them before. He also knew I was a big fan and was excited to see what they were all about. It was both our first time at The Great Hall… what an awesome venue! The stage is raised, so shrimps like me can see it from anywhere in the room (not an issue for my friend who is 6ft+). I normally don’t like standing too close to the front because the sound isn’t as good, but then I can’t see if I stand farther back (1st world problems, am I right?). Anyways, we got great spots, in case you were worried.
The guys opened with “Bye Bye Bye”, an old classic from “Parc Avenue” and one of my personal favourites. As the guys took the stage, we realized there was music coming from elsewhere. It took a few moments before everyone realized what was going on – guitarist Nic Basque was up on the balcony playing an autoharp (yes, an autoharp). Super cool. By the end of the song, Bisque had made his way down to the stage and held up the strange-looking instrument, exclaiming, “We’re gonna do our best!” Once again, I love their modesty.
The band played a really well put-together set of old favourites off previous albums, “Parc Avenue” and “La La Land”, and new material from “The End of That”. There was a very clear difference in this performance compared to when I saw them last. It was obvious that they had done a lot of reworking on their set. I could tell they had experimented with new harmonies, which sounded awesome. They used a loop to create echo effects, and had a fog machine – probably unnecessary but cool and fun nonetheless. Basque slide-guitared – another great addition.
During the making of “The End of That”, P&A decided to invite a bassist to join the group! That man was Eric Digras, and as if the band didn’t seem modest enough, Digras always seems to have this look this look of wonder which reflects his thinking that he is the luckiest person in the world. One thing I knew to expect from the show was a copious amount of sweat dripping through every pore of singer/guitarist Warren C. Spicer’s body. Seriously though, it’s insane. It was probably the most memorable part of the last show I saw, and this performance was no different (although he wore all black, which did a better job of concealing the evidence). Sweat aside, Spicer is wonderful. I’ve always thought he sounded a bit like Bob Dylan, and I am especially reminded of Dylan on the new album’s title track, “The End of That”, which, to my disappointment, they did not play. I was also blown away by Basque; his guitar playing during the set was phenomenal; more-so than I had ever noticed before.
I clearly wasn’t the only one who was thoroughly impressed by the performance; the audience was an integral part of the show. Fans were singing along to both old songs and new – especially seeming to appreciate the new harmonies and Basque’s elaborate guitar solos. Also, certain crazy females were just happy and drunk. A memorable part of the evening was when some girl got on stage, and managed dancing up there alongside Spicer for a decent amount of time. Rather than being annoyed by the disturbance, the band embraced it, letting her have her fun until she was ushered off by security. Perhaps I’ll try it next time.
All in all, a really impressive and enjoyable performance by Plants and Animals. I was so happy at the end that I bought The End of That on vinyl. I don’t even have my own record player. I also bought a hand crafted tour poster – which will not stick to my wall. Grrr. That’s okay though; only good memories! I’ll get it to stick one day.
By Alex Knoll