The Barr Brothers Living-Room Experience

The pre-show weather gave the night a unique feeling, having been on the cusp of raining all day- but entirely undecided.

It was another chilly June -another surprise brought to you by living in the great white north.

The weather was also reflected in the unique set put on by The Barr Brothers later that evening. A performance that overflowed, but ended the evening much like the weather: containing itself.

The Barr Brothers really know how to make music a living auditory experience and not just one dependent on sound but one that invites you through the atmosphere and the decoration of their home. It is like an invitation to their own personal jam space. They will set it up for you!

In mid set, Brad Barr (guitar, vocals) explained the the set-up to the audience “we brought everything here. Our living room is completely empty!”

Cabaret Mile End was a perfect venue for The Barr Brothers music. The dim lights, the candles at every table. Reminiscent of an old lounge show.

The audience remained transfixed, each table glowing with candle flickers, each face red from the tint of the stage.

If you have ever been to a Barr Brothers show you probably know that the band will bring everything with them, everything that is…except for the kitchen sink!

Their beautiful antique lamps with golden embroidered shades decorated the set,   while beautiful little white light bulbs decorated the top of the stage as well as the harp.

How comfortable do the Barr Brothers get during their shows, playing in a reasonable facsimile of their living room? Pretty comfortable, I’d say.

When Sarah Page sits on the floor playing along with the band- you can just imagine their jam time in their own living room. It made me feel welcome and added to the lounge atmosphere of the show.

The show moves between quiet nights and thunderstorms. At times there was humming noise, unclear, undefined. But at other times, they was also a pure and raw sound, punctuated with screaming electric or deep country acoustic riffs.

Every once and a while Brad Barr took out his Bo Diddley square guitar to play some of his sweet country and blues riff songs.

In this way, The Barr Brothers fluctuated between the quiet patter of nighttime rainfall and loud whiskey rough blues songs before moving on to loud and powerful electric riffs.

If you are taken to falling asleep while a harp is playing, then you can always wake up to screaming riffs that shock the song alive.

The pattern during the show seemed to move between volumes. But at all times it captivated the audience, giving off the perfect ambiance.

The Barr Brothers set started off with some ambient noise that turned into a song. The second song was greeted by cheers, especially when the harp began to play those happy notes from Old Mythologies. This is a song that stayed in my mind for hours.

One look at the audience told me they were a little subdued but entertained by the music that was at times slow and cerebral; but all this changed a few songs in, as the audience was cheering and alive for the opening notes of Lord I just can’t keep from Cryin‘.

They also played another one of my favorite songs Give the Devil Back his Heart, which brings out the root elements in their music. You can see how The Barr Brothers influences are amalgamated into one song-writing technique.

One of the closing songs was Beggar in the morning, a nice trip song that reminds me of a long drive home. It was the perfect way to end the set.

Compared with the Toronto show– I’d have to say that The Dakota Tavern is smaller but had a pretty good sound for the Barr Brothers. Since I had only seen a short set at their Toronto appearance the longer set was appreciated, and fit well with the cold and contemplative evening, especially the light bluesy songs they played during their encore.

In terms of sound quality the show went off without a hitch. Even when Brad’s guitar strings were held by a few audience members, extending all the way to the back of venue, and Andrew Barr   passed out water-filled wine glasses,   so that the audience could carry on a reverberation of sound in the foreground, the sound quality was still solid and clear.
Barr Brothers – “Beggar In The Morning” by indiemusicfilter

The opening act Elfin Saddle sounded way better than I expected. And that is strange because I listened to a few tracks before the show and I thought I wouldn’t enjoy them, but the harmonies they sang were beautifully timed and very pleasant. Can’t wait to hear more from them.

* photos by Cindy Lopez


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