It would be easy to dismiss Meghan Trainor as a novelty act thanks to her, “Love yourself” anthem ‘All About That Bass’.
But as her recent set at the Molson Amphitheatre revealed, the Massachusetts-based singer brings a surprising depth to her work and many of her songs have a definite retro feel to them that may just have helped to get the many kids in the audience into jazz, doo-wop and other classic genres that Trainor’s music is influenced by.
The night got off to an interesting start thanks to Common Kings. The band’s surprisingly heavy reggae rock seemed a bit out of place but they still put on a fun show. Hailee Steinfeld was another pleasant surprise. The actress/singer expressed love for Toronto and noted that it was fitting that she was in the city so close to the kick-off of TIFF because she had made her first trip to the city to promote a movie at the fest. The choreography between Steinfeld and her back-up dancers was exceptional. She played ‘Flashlight’ from Pitch Perfect and told the audience that she would be back for the 2016 edition of TIFF.
By the time the backdrop hit the floor, the audience was on their feet and stayed there for much of Meghan Trainor’s set. Her dapper backing band played a short intro to accompany a collage of images of Trainor.
In keeping with the retro feel of her music, there was an 80’s funk feel to the first couple songs. The crowd sang along with ‘Me Too’ as the video played on an on-stage screen. The music that she played over the course of her 90 minute set ran the gamut from contemporary EDM to a couple songs that harkened back to the big band era while a couple sounded just like a 60’s girl pop numbers.
She dedicated one song to all the mothers in the audience, mentioning that her mom was backstage and shared a humorous anecdote about her mother Kelly helping with getting her dress on. She followed it with a song dedicated to her dad.
Trainor played ‘All About That Bass’ relatively early and had the audience singing and dancing along. She took it down a notch for a few songs. ‘Friends’ featured a montage of videos from her Instagram. There was a short break for a wardrobe change that saw her return to the stage in a long dress.
She showed her strength as a vocalist on ‘Kindly Calm Me Down’ with her dancers beating drums covered with sparkles at the climax. One of the evening’s nicest moments came when it was just Trainor and her guitarist on stage where she admitted that she’s looking for a husband before launching into the fittingly titled ‘Hopeless Romantic’. The catchy, ‘Just a Friend’, which featured just her with a ukulele, was another highlight.
Common Kings vocalist JR. King came out and joined her for a song, showing that he has definite chops as a R ‘n B/Soul singer.
As she has promised earlier in the evening, she brought several audience members on stage to sing and dance. It was fitting because the song, the title track from her latest release Thank You, was dedicated to her fans.
Because all the parents doubtlessly wanted to get their kids home and in bed before midnight, she only played a single song for the encore, ‘No’. A couple more songs would have been great but the crowd was sent happily on their way.