Photographs by Janine Van Oostrom.
A homecoming of sorts, Hamilton’s Junior Boys closed a two month North American tour supporting their excellent new album, their fifth, Big Black Coat at the Phoenix on a chilly Saturday night. Kicking off the night was the vocally talented Jessy Lanza.
The electro-pop duo expanded to a three piece with the addition of a drummer accompanying guitar and keyboards. A pretty full Phoenix greeted the band when they hit the stage at their advertised set time.
Opening with a cover of John Martyn’s “Some People are Crazy”, Junior Boys tried to get everyone’s Saturday off to a hip shaking start. I’ve never been huge into Junior Boys but have all their albums. I’ve found their albums enjoyable but a bit on the frosty side not allowing me in. Big Black Coat has been the immediate and enjoyable as they’ve added layers of psychedelic guitars to dazzling effect. Having never seen them before I really was hoping for a set heavy on the new album.
Over the course of 90 minutes, the Boys would offer a few essential tracks from the new album including my personal highlight “C’mon Baby”. A healthy selection of tracks from their second album So This Is Goodbye and a selection or two from the others peppered the proceedings. “In The Morning” got the biggest roars of the evening.
But the sound was a bit on the soft side for the majority of the night resulting in the Boys becoming the soundtrack in the background while people caught up on each other’s week. They just seemed to fail to connect and hold the crowd. I can’t blame the band as their modest light show and what sound was coming from the stage was impressive and gave me a new appreciation for the band. They even went for the jugular with the on-two sucker punch of “Big Black Coat” and “Under the Sun”, an epic set closer.
Maybe the crowd was all known by the band as they declared towards the end of the night. Or the deficient sound failed to provoke the response I expected, either was it was a failed opportunity for a transcendent homecoming which it should have been given the effort coming from the stage.