The Dears at the Great Hall

Photos by Matt Forsythe.

Watching The Dears on Thursday night in Toronto, one thing becomes patently clear: people love this band unconditionally. Not a casual listener in the house, there wasn’t a note cascading from the stage that didn’t have someone clinging to the wave. Murray Lightburn was in control as he guided the crowd through a tour of 20 years of the band’s cinematic mastery.

To be certain, not much sounds like The Dears. Hounded for years by illusions to a particular Manchester band, Lightburn’s melodic howl set fire to all comparison. I’ve seen four singers in my lifetime that were note-perfect: Bjork, Thom Yorke, Prince, and Murray Lighburn. It’s his ability to switch from whisper to scream that makes him truly unique and leave me in awe of his considerable range.

And range is something not left to his vocalizations alone. Keyboardist Natalia Yanchak took the mic on several occasions, offering a kind of matter-of-fact cool oft reserved for European cafes. She provided the type of contrast that kept Lightburn grounded.

Playing songs from the newly-released Time Infinity Volume II all the way back to 2003’s No Cities Left, the band displayed a continuity that takes ultimate commitment. A career band in an age when disposable heroes litter the landscape, The Dears have yet to show a crack in the armour. Fierce defenders of the indie aesthetic, they make music on their own terms. And these fans obviously applaud their efforts. Loudly.

Ending the night with an acoustic version of “Ticket to Immortality” from 2006’s Gang of Losers, a song penned about being away from his kids, Lightburn embraced the crowd like he might his own children and let us know “the world loves you.” And like that, we drifted off to dreamland.

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