July Talk and Eamon McGrath @ The Observatory

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July Talk demonstrated why they are the most entertaining show in the business Thursday night at the Algonquin College Observatory.

The rock group from Toronto took the stage and the sold out crowd impatiently chanted their name. Once up there, Peter Dreimanis said, “Man, the hallways are long and large at Algonquin aren’t they? We love Ottawa, our second show ever was in Ottawa.” Then Leah Fay spoke up, “That was the first time I ever threw up in a hotel parking lot.” Peter asked “Last time?”  and Leah responded, “Definitely not.”

Peter Dreaimanus covering Leah Fay's eyes while she sings. Photo: Eric Scharf
Peter Dreimanis covering Leah Fay’s eyes while she sings. Photo: Eric Scharf

The band then launched into their hit “Summer Dress,” which was partially written in a trailer at Bluesfest. They then played “Gentlemen,” where Peter sounds a lot like Tom Waits at the start and I loved it. During the song, he placed his guitar pick in his mouth and did a mouth to mouth exchange with Leah. She then turned around and did a mouth to mouth exchange with a lucky fan in the front row. Then mid-song, they got nearly the entire crowd to get down on their knees. Then having them rise only during the last line “We’re all easy to love when we are down on our knees.”

This was just the first step by July Talk to make the crowd an integral part of their performance. A July Talk show is the most entertaining show you can attend. Not only are they great performers who get the crowd involved, but they make you feel like equals. July Talk makes all fans feel like they belong and are vital to the show. There is simply no band in the country, maybe the world, that has better chemistry together and with the crowd than July Talk. I could write a paragraph like the one above about each song, as they never just play a song, there is always an element of “wow.” Instead I will limit it to highlight just a few of the extra special moments.

Check out the video below for a snapshot of the show. About mid-way through the video you can hopefully make out one of my favourite parts of the performance. When Leah passes water to a crowd member mother bird style in the middle of a song. The fan in question had earlier passed his baseball cap for Leah to wear. What made the moment even better was the look on Peter’s face – he was blown away and smiling non-stop ear to ear. And the band didn’t miss a beat. Look for it. It was gold.

One of the other big highlights was during “Paper Girl” when Leah could be seen chatting with a girl in the crowd as the song began. After a little discussion she pulled her up on stage and had her sing Leah’s first verse for her on stage. They then danced, sang together and Leah even picked her up and cradled her while spinning around. I am sure that lucky fan will never forget that night.

July Talk capped the night off with “The Garden,” which happens to be the first song they ever wrote together as a band. During the set, Leah cutely said “Thanks for liking us even though we are shitheads. Ottawa has always been one of our favourite places to play.” Leah, I think I can speak for all of Ottawa and say thank you. Thanks for being cool enough to play huge venues and still play nice intimate shows like the one you play at The Observatory Thursday night. Come back any time.

Slappa da bass man. Photo: Eric Scharf
Slappa da bass man. Photo: Eric Scharf

Opening the show was Eamon McGrath and his band. The three-piece rock band did a great job as openers. They played a high energy rocking five or six song set the get things going. I really liked McGrath’s raspy voice when he sang and the fun he had with the crowd. When McGrath performed solo stuff it was slower and more folk-oriented, but with his band it was really rocking and catchy.

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