Moxy Fruvous, Rocky Velvet, Jess Klein
Northern Lights, May 6
Moxy Fruvous are a great, great, great, great band. And I'd put more "great"'s in that sentence if I didn't think that my editors would take them back out again-so feel free to re-insert them as you play the home version of this review. Really. The charismatic Canadian quartet write marvelous songs (some funny, some poignant, some lovely, some pointed), sing spine-tingling four-part harmonies and play their instruments (and each others' instruments) the way they were meant to be played. They also take ownership of cover songs in ways that most bands can't even do with their own material-and they leaven the whole she-bang with the best 'tween-tune banter heard since Elvis Presley's deranged and hallucination-laden final years.
They also put drummer (well, most of the time drummer) Jian Ghomeshi up on the front line where audiences can watch his every move (nice checked pants, Jian!)-and if there's any revolution that this critic would like to see shake the contemporary concert experience, it's more of that, please. (Drummers of the world unite and take your rightful place at the front of the stage! You have nothing to lose but your stupid-looking risers!)
Ghomeshi's front-line partners, mostly-bassist Murray Foster, mostly-guitarist Mike Ford and mostly-everything-else David Matheson were a treat to watch as well, ricocheting around the stage like dervishes yet somehow, amazingly, managing to always have the right instrument or microphone at hand for each and every song. It was exhausting to watch. I can't imagine what it must have felt like to do.
Moxy Fruvous crafted their generous set with some old crowd favorites (Matheson playing the "King of Spain," Ghomeshi delivering the angry version of "Video Bargainville," greatest-environmental-folk-song-ever-written "River Valley" and gotta-see-it-to-believe-it "Green Eggs and Ham") and a healthy sampling of material from a new record to be released in July. They also, of course, included their ever-fascinating covers contingent. "Gotta Get a Message to You" reminded me of what a sweet pop band the Bee Gees were, pre-disco. The "Billie Jean" medley proved that the King of Spain can top the King of Pop any old day. "Psycho Killer" almost made me reassess my ever-growing loathing for David Byrne. Almost. But nobody's that good.
Oh, and Rocky Velvet and Jess Klein did some stuff, too, that I'm sure was just fine, although it paled into the forgettable zone once Moxy Fruvous took the stage. And did I mention that they were a great, great, great, great, great . . .