Armed with a record’s worth of new material, JUNO-winners The Beaches played a sold-out show at the Bronson Centre Wednesday night.
The all-girl glam-rock foursome opened with their brutally nonchalant takedown “Snake Tongue.” The second single off their latest EP The Professional, the song swipes at drive-by perverts and features a sing-along bridge of “stop sending me all your dick pics / they are boring me to pieces.”
They then sped things up with a barn-burning rendition of “Moment” and a thundering version of arena rocker “Gold,” before introducing a “brand new song” aptly titled “The Professional.”
The band’s electrifying musicianship was matched by their impeccable style and stage presence, with semi-coordinated poses offset by raw rock-n-roll energy. Lead singer Jordan Miller kept the banter to a minimum, her occasional corny puns (“100% certified Ontario Grade A Beach”) delivered with an intensity that made them feel deadly serious.
They continued with a trio of bubblegum rock, with The Professional single “Fascination” (an obsessive love song that plays as a more benevolent take on Blondie’s “One Way Or Another”) leading into “Sweet Life,” and “Want What You Got,” a relatably petty anthem of envy. From there, cowboy hat-clad keyboardist Leandra Earl abandoned her instrument and took lead vocals for the punkier “Kinkade.”
Earl’s ersatz-organ intro gave a distinctly seventies feel to torch ballad “Highway 6,” which showcased another impressive vocal performance by Miller. Her dexterity also stood out on guitarist Kylie Miller’s unabashedly danceable cover of Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head.”
After this pop interlude, the second half of the show got significantly heavier, The Beaches’s catchy hooks bulked up by hard rock arrangements. Following a rendition of their early-career single “Loner,” a distorted guitar battle introduced a clanging version of Late Show album opener “Back of My Heart.” The band then powered through fan favourites like “Turn Me On,” “Desdemona,” “Boy Wonder” (a standout from their self-titled 2013 EP) and “Lame” (pure new wave on The Professional, mutated into a punky banger when played live).
After another unreleased track (a catchy tune called “Bad Behaviour”), they concluded with their acclaimed ode to capitalism “Money” before coming back for a two-song encore.
“We know you’ve been waiting for that special song,” teased Miller as they retook the stage. “Any members of the Itty-Bitty Titty Committee here?”
The “special song” could only have been “T-Shirt,” in which Miller boasts about stealing an ex’s clothes and touts her membership in the aforementioned Committee; after knocking that one out of the park, they closed the show with unexpected ballad “You Don’t Owe Me Anything.”
Toronto pop-punks Goodbye Honolulu are the kind of band who can make a tight show look effortless.
They’re also a perfect double bill with The Beaches (and not just because they all went to high school together). The two bands share a similar modern/classic sensibility; Goodbye Honolulu’s eclectic set evoked seventies power-pop drenched in layers of grungy distortion.
Boasting bright riffs and catchy basslines, their newer material sounded somewhat slicker than their stoner/surf anthems of yore; “Over and Over,” for instance, featured what might be their funkiest riff yet.
Even so, the quirky quartet retained their lackadaisical stage presence and wry humour (I appreciated a moment during “Hello, How Are You?” in which svelte singer-guitarist Fox Martindale exaggeratedly flexed his muscles before wailing “Look at my bones!”). And the ironic chorus of their signature song, the show-closing “Typical” (“Call me old-fashioned / but I’m looking for some love / with some action”) is still brilliant.
Opening band Fade Awaays warmed up the crowd with an energetic set of jubilant, no-nonsense garage rock.
Line-up: Fade Awaays / Goodbye Honolulu / The Beaches
Venue: Bronson Centre, Ottawa
Date: Wednesday, Feb. 19/2020