SHIVAREE + Shoot The Moon @ Main Hall

By Jordan-na - Canadian Invasion - 02/14/2005

On Monday February 14th, love was in the air. California band Shivaree crept into Montreal and stole the hearts of those attending their show at the Main Hall with an inviting evening of warm music on a cold night.

Shoot The Moon kicked off this Valentine’s Day show and managed to garner some admiration from the audience. They are a Montreal-based art-rock collective akin to a curious circus of musicians. Behold the lead singer, intoxicated with the power of her own vocals. Marvel at the stiff keyboard. Hear the two guitarist swinging towards each other with their heads cocked. See the violinist in the dark corner, just her and her instrument. Shoot The Moon’s music fits with their morose presence as it has a sad, comically nightmarish quality to it, like a Tim Burton film. They create a dark, eerie atmosphere in which to play their art-rock blues. The more they played, the better they got, becoming comfortable with themselves and the crowd. Their delivery was sometimes sloppy, as they missed cues, and they weren’t always on the same page. Yet for the most part, Shoot The Moon delivered a decent opening set and I developed a slight crush on them, but nothing long term.

When Shivaree came on, my momentary infatuation with Shoot The Moon was forgotten. Shivaree invited their audience into an intimate, casual laid-back evening on that snowy night. Lead singer Ambrosia Paisley took the stage, greeted the audience with a “bonsoir” in perfect European French and the crowd was instantly smitten. Then the band heated up the stage with their sexy lounge music, dashed with a hint of mystery, evoking images of a sweaty Mediterranean night.

Shivaree may be a band, but the main attraction is Paisley. She played the parts of the gracious crooner woman and the cute kid, crinkling her nose while wishing the audience a happy Valentine’s Day, suggesting we celebrate with champagne. Her voice is girly yet soured by life experience, like a Gwen Stefani who has smoked too many cigarettes and knows better. She is charming, charismatic and unassumingly commanded the attention of the room. She told stories and sang songs to warm our souls.

Meanwhile Paisley’s band shined as they provided a wonderful, smooth base on which Paisley could play and place her vocals. They are fine, seasoned musicians who play for love of what they do, eliciting cheers of admiration from the crowd for their fine musical craftmanship.

As a collective group, Shivaree created a soothing, relaxing atmosphere, like a long, comforting embrace, or a flannel blanket on a bitter cold night. Their music is like sweet lullabies that entrance you into a state of lucidity. They ably blend jazz, blues, lounge and pop into a smooth, pleasing mix. Shivaree’s repertoire comes across better live than recorded as they played this combo with the right amount of uptempo songs and down home tunes, within the intimate evening created by Paisley’s admirable stage banter. Their presence was enhanced by softly coloured lights that speckled the room and graced the back of the stage.

Shivaree played a long set, and capped the evening off with a three-song encore. After their show, they sold their own CDs at the Main Hall’s bar. Montreal could not have asked for a more gracious or talented object of affection to host their Valentine evening.

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