Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Show Review: The Felice Brothers - Live in Toronto at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern, July 27, 2010
When the Felice Brothers opened for the Dave Matthews Band in Toronto only two months back, they must have made some impression. The band, looking much cleaner cut than they sounded, played to a packed and sweaty crowd at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern. The band of brothers and close friends filled the low-ceilinged venue with their high-energy drunken sing-a-longs and tender ballads. Members of the audience, most of which were quite familiar with the Felice Brothers large catalogue happily draped themselves over one another and belted out the lyrics to most of the songs during the 90-minute set. Lead singer and guitarist Ian Felice poured his scraggly and often wobbly voice into every song, but it was really his childhood friend Christmas who shined the brightest. Christmas’ stage presence and performance on both the accordion and keyboard is so genuine and heartfelt that it’s hard to look at the large man without an ear-to-ear smile on your face. While most of the songs the Felice Brothers played were quick paced and filled with hoedown dance opportunities, the band really hit a high point when they slowed things down on songs like the haunting “Saint Peter’s End” and “Katie Dear”. The crowd simply erupted for the band’s biggest hit “Frankie’s Gun” which featured some down and dirty washboard playing by Greg Farley, who was quick to switch between his fiddle, extra percussion and some straight up crazy dancing throughout the entire evening. The crowd barely had the opportunity to catch their breath before the group launched into “Whiskey In My Whiskey” and then “Greatest Show On Earth”. The latter of which had Ian sounding more like Bob Dylan than ever, but nobody seemed to mind
The Felice Brothers hopped off stage for a couple of moments but the cheers from the crowd would not let up. The boys came back out with a few more stompers to sustain the whiskey-induced crowd. “Chicken Wire” had the whole audience stomping their feet before the group closed the show with a choice cover song by Townes Zan Vandt that fit the Brothers’ sound perfectly. Those who attended this stellar performance will surely agree that the Felice Brothers truly earned that coveted opening slot for the Dave Matthews Band. Toronto welcomed the Felice Brothers as their own last night, and I’m sure these up-and-comers will make their way through Canada again soon enough.