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CONCERT REVIEW: Whitehorse “Leave No Bridge Unburned”

Luke Doucet, left, and Melissa McClellan are the Canadian indie-rockers Whitehorse who played the Kelowna Community Theatre, Friday, April 10, 2015.
April 11, 2015 - 10:12 AM

KELOWNA - Bouncing onto the stage a-clutter with a mess of old tube amplifiers, drums and other music-making machines, the unknowing might have been forgiven for thinking that Melissa McClelland and husband Luke Doucet had left the rest of the band stranded at a motel along the way to windy Kelowna last night.

But the pair of Canadian indie-rockers Whitehorse warmed up the Kelowna Community Theatre’s near-capacity crowd with an alchemical blend of torch and twang all on their own.

The genius of their current collaboration stems from years of honing their singer-songwriter chops independently and in concert with other performers most notably Sarah McLachlan.

And a mastery of a tiny bit of technology known as a “looping pedal.”

The beauty of the looper is the ability it gives the performer to capture self-generated snatches of melody and rhythm, lock them into alliance and to forge, seemingly out of the aether, a complementary backbone over which to compose the rest of a song. And at the feet of two pros like Doucet and McClelland, looping pedals allow a musically muscular beast to emerge like a wayward stallion coursing up out the misty depths of an arroyo.

The Toronto-based duo have been carving out a niche for themselves since taking a hiatus from their independently successful solo careers and linking up in life and love to form Whitehorse in 2011.

Their current tour across western Canada is showcasing the fine work found on Leave No Bridge Unburned released to great acclaim earlier this year. And an appreciative Kelowna audience sang along to some of the band’s most familiar songs — the achingly beautiful “Broken” and the sassy “Devil’s Got A Gun” — and held on fast for the rest of the night’s rocky ride.

Doucet and McClelland have beautiful voices on their own, and together there’s a natural symmetry that bears a bold witness to the themes of love and loss found in much of their work.

But there’s something sinister in the mix as well. It’s loud and big and brash, and it’s probably the sexiest guitar ever conceived: the Gretsch White Falcon.

As a guitar nut, the reviewer could wax eternally on about the charms of Doucet’s trademark musical crutch. The Falcon is a large white hollow body electric guitar fitted with twangy pickups that snarl and growl with feral intensity, and a gold Bigsby tremolo bar that warbles and reminds us all of that distinctive grit that makes the sound of so much old rock and roll and rockabilly instantly recognizable as components of our collective musical DNA.

And in Luke Doucet’s capable hands, the Falcon is a beast that croons a melody as sweetly as the pair’s lovely voices in one instance, and then turns around and batters the listener with a brattishly-brittle snap. And when turned towards the magnetic field of a hot tube amplifier, as Doucet demonstrated several times during the night’s musical ride, the resulting feedback produced by the Gretsch was this guy’s version of heaven.

Exciting stuff, Whitehorse. And the crowd thought so too.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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