Music Reviews

Andra Day with Conrad Swell at the Mod Club

Photos by Randall Vasquez

Retro-soul singer, Andra Day bares it all for her Toronto fans at the Virgin Mod Club on Thursday, March 17th. It isn’t often that an artist such as Andra Day comes along, and manages to captivate the entire music world in such a short time. In the wake of her incredible Grammy performance and stellar album debut, Andra has critics bowing down at her feet.

It’s been a long time since an R&B artist arrived on the scene with as much promise, personality and effortless style as Day. Her Grammy nominated debut, Cheers to the Fall brings peace and blessings to all who listen, which was no surprise that her first headline tour sold out including her show at the Mod Club.

With the help of her terrific four-piece band, Day opened with “Forever Mine” while sitting on a fur-covered trunk, gazing into the crowd. Dressed in her trademark silk pajamas, mink stole and colourful head wrap, Day strut her stuff as she stood up to perform her tribute to 60s Motown sound, “Gold”.

Day took a moment to tell the crowd how glad she was to be back in the 6ix. Last summer, Day had the pleasure of opening for Lenny Kravitz at the Molson Amphitheatre and she was happy to have the opportunity to come back to perform for us once again. She asked if anyone is a fan of Nina Simone followed by her schooling the crowd on Simone and her influence as she scatted through “Mississippi Goddam”.

After each performance, Day received much praise from the audience with never-ending applause. Her velvety voice never cracks over the powerhouse sound of her live band. She wasn’t afraid to go deep to deliver an emotional performance which is a real treat to witness live.

Day has the kindred spirit of Etta James, is a poet like Nina Simone and style like a 60s pin up doll.  Most compares her to Amy Winehouse but her unique style and sound sets her apart from her musical pioneers. The highlight of her set came when she talked about how she suffered from insecurities growing up.

“I would never leave the house without makeup” she said. The makeup was her mask when she had to face the pressures of society.  Pulling out a packet of wipes, Day removed every inch of makeup from her face before performing her groovy rendition of Kendrick Lamar’s “No Makeup”.

To lighten up the mood, Day and her keyboardist Charles Jones did a melody of Michael Jackson’s hit songs. Jones was like the Marvin Gaye to Day’s Tammi Terrell.  Together, the two were brilliant and they wowed the crowd with their duets of “Only Love” and “Goodbye Goodnight”.

Before singing her hit single, “Rise Up”, Day wanted to inspire her fans once more. “This song is for those dealing with mental health – the ones who has lost hope” she proclaimed. “You are not alone, we are in this together. Sing with me”.  And so they did as the crowd sang along to an emotional Day who appreciated the response.

She thanked everyone for sharing this night with her. She showed much love to her band especially Jones for being a huge part of her show. She thanked her openers, The Voice and Conrad Sewell who did a great job of entertaining the crowd earlier.  For her encore, Day tackled Queen’s “All I Want” which to no surprise she did amazingly.

About author

Administrator by day, concert writer by night. When she isn’t writing reviews, Tashana often spends time exploring the city or is at home watching a good drama on television. You can check her out on Twitter @tbilley.