Published Jan 03, 2020The Honest Heart Collective have to be one of Canada's most underrated rock bands. For the past six years or so, the Thunder Bay group have relentlessly toured the country and put out two excellent albums of rousing, feel-good rock'n'roll that's ready-made for fans of the Gaslight Anthem and others in the Springsteencore idiom. Their passion is virtually unstoppable — even a highway wreck that nearly killed them only strengthened their resolve — and it's largely what makes their performances so electrifying.
While another band might shy away from releasing a live album this early in their career, Live at the Horseshoe sounds like a group of musicians with more than twice their tenure.
This is a live band's live band. They have seamless transitions, great crowd interaction and a "less talk more rock" ethos. They rip through an hour-long, 14-song set, packing in the entirety of their fantastic 2018 album, Grief Rights, along with three killer tunes from their debut, Liar's Club, this year's single "Fine," and covers of "Helter Skelter" and "Born to Run."
Effortless interludes keep up the momentum between songs, and singer Ryan MacDonald gives a consistently stellar performance. He leans heavily on the Southern heartland rock'n'roll voice, but it sounds authentic in the context of the E Street Band vibe, the old-soul storytelling and the blue-collar song perspective of tunes like "Debts" and "Strike Sound." They wear their pride for northern Ontario on their sleeves and show solidarity with the young working poor of Toronto, including a dig at the city's skyrocketing cost of living.
Their spirit shines brightest with "North American Dream," "Honest Hearts" and "I've Got You," and they dial up the energy with rockers "Separate Ways" and "Liar's Club." It is rather remarkable that this band can play a set this long and fill it with as many great tunes as they have. The Honest Heart Collective have everything they need to take full control of a room of people. Give them a fair shot on mainstream rock radio and a supporting spot on a lucrative tour, and they could soon be kickin' it in stadiums presently occupied by the likes of the Arkells and the Glorious Sons among the new vanguard of Canadian rock'n'roll. (Independent)