Photos by Dawn Hamilton
Purple is the name of the newest Baroness album. It’s worth noting that purple is a sign of the changes Baroness have made over the years, whether they be influenced by Pink Floyd’s spectrum of Dark Side of the Moon or the late purple great himself Prince. Baroness have faced their own misfortunes, especially their bus accident that nearly cost the band their lives. Purple is a sign of transformation, recovery and strength.
The beauty of Baroness is that a number of years ago, seeing them as a big name on the Canadian Music Week line up would have been a bit strange. At one point they were heavier, more ruthless and pounding. As of 2016, Baroness is not only welcomed but they’re cherished, too. With open arms, Baroness were welcomed at the Opera House. Singer, guitar player, artist and founding member John Baizley was joined by guitarist Peter Adams and the two newest members Sebastian Thomson (drums) and Nick Jost (bass), of whom joined the band after the bus accident of 2012. As per their legacy, of old line up or new, Baroness played with conviction and with power. As much as they experiment on record, they continue to be a band of solid rawness live. They’ve definitely expanded the two separate entities of their band well.
In terms of how their legacy was represented live, the majority of their set were songs off of Purple and Yellow & Green: Both albums ventured through more experimental territory for Baroness. The material off of the newest Purple album, enriched in self discovery and wandering daydreams, consisted of songs like Morningstar and the majestic Chlorine & Wine. Some of the Yellow & Green songs (a double album set of both folkier and nostalgic nature) featured were March to the Sea and the titular Green Theme. A handful of Blue Record songs were featured, including the pummeling A Horse Called Golgotha. Only one Red Album song (Isak) made its way here. Even though only one song off of their heaviest album was here, the theme of the evening was to bring up the majority of their bombastic anthems to send off the evening into the night sky.
Baroness were an exciting addition to CMW. In a year that isn’t as studded with veteran acts (where CMW has featured bands like Television and Faith No More before), it has been up to the younger and more recent talents to create their own legacies. Baroness may be a newer band (just over a decade old), but they have the experience of a hard working band, the variety of intelligent musicians, the history of the courageous and the enthusiasm of the thankful. Such a lively set with textures of emotions carved into the songwriting resulted in a rocking evening that was tinged with beauty. Baroness have been a big name in the metal community for years, and I hope they have become an even bigger name to many in Toronto after their well deserved show during Canadian Music Week.