It’s probably been about 8 years since I last went to show at Theatre Plaza on St. Hubert, and as I walk in, it’s a lot nicer than I remember. It’s dimensionally similar to Théatre Fairmount, except for a ceiling that’s about three times higher. As a result, tonight’s opener, local singer-songwriter Tess Roby (and her guitarist) looks absolutely dwarfed by the massive stage. No matter, though, as she gets the evening started in fine manner with a very relaxed 30 minutes. On the last song, she requests the Theatre be lit up all in blue; the lighting guy duly obliges, and it makes for a very moody finale.
Hailing from London, England, 4-piece Girl Ray are up next and continue the mellow-vibes, erm, vibe. Somewhat reminiscent of Camera Obscura, they run through 45 minutes of songs primarily from their 2017 debut Earl Grey and seem to have a great time doing it too. When the singer proclaims “we’ve never played in Canada before, it’s nice to be here,” you believe her 100%. The crowd engages with them quickly too, swaying along, with a few guys in the crowd joining in on the angelic harmonies (though not quite as harmoniously…). A very promising debut.
The place is packed by the time Aaron Maine, aka Porches, and his band hit the stage at 11:20pm, later than advertised. He engages the crowd right off the bat, speaking with them between most songs, in very confident manner. Such is his confidence that his two most popular songs, Find Me and Be Apart, are played within the first 5 songs of the set. No hanging on to them until the encore for this guy! Both are somewhat remixed and reworked from their recorded counterparts, more instrumental and less electronica, and they sound absolutely great. Dancing ripples around the floor and it’s not lost on Aaron, who remarks “thank you, you’re so beautiful! I love seeing you move like that!” The crowd, in turn, continues to move like that, for the rest of the night.
On By My Side, Aaron sits on the floor blowing kisses at the crowd while his band sets up the intro, before jumping to his feet to join in, before pulling his shirt over his head, soccer celebration-style, for the first chunk of vocals on Anymore. After the mellow Underwater closes out the main set, he proclaims “ciao for now, it’s beautiful that you made it out, mwah mwah mwah!!”, blowing a few more kisses as he leaves the stage.
Not for long, though, as Aaron and band swiftly return for a 2-song encore, the highlight of which is unquestionably the brilliant Country. You can almost hear a pin drop as Aaron sings, accompanied only by the keys. One song later and the show wraps up for good at 12:15am, to initiate the stampede to the coat check and the last train from Beaubien Metro. Judging by the huge line snaking back from the coat check at the entrance all the way back to the floor of the theatre, not everyone is gonna make it…
By My Side
Leave The House
Review – Simon Williams
Photos – Thomas Bock