Mirah / Norfolk and Western The Mod Club, Toronto, ON October 6
Published Oct 07, 2009A cold, rainy night led to a thinly populated Mod Club and the largely forgettable sounds of Norfolk and Western. They're the kind of band you want to be good enough to actually like, but they're just not. Fleeting moments, particularly on the keyboards and drums, were quite good, but the songs as a whole, especially the vocal melodies, were too plain to be engaging.
After far too long of a wait following that lacklustre set, it became apparent why N&W leaned so heavily on their drummer for spice: she was rocking the kit for Mirah when the adorable and charming beauty finally hit the stage. Armed with a rich-toned semi-hollow body guitar and her gorgeous voice, Mirah ran through a set that covered almost every song from her fantastic 2009 release, (a)spera, among other gems from her vast catalogue, all with the help of the aforementioned drummer, a violinist, and a keyboardist.
Highlights like the string-heavy "Generosity" and gentle swing of "Education" were interspersed with older fan favourites like "Light the Match" and "The Dogs of B.A." Mirah's impressive backing band proved to be a versatile unit, all delivering harmony vocal duties throughout much of the set. The keyboardist switched to clarinet for a few songs and the drummer handled second guitar and glockenspiel with finesse.
Nearing the end of the regular set, the rest of Norfolk and Western returned to the stage to form a fully distorted rock band with blazing trumpet for "The Woods." The glockenspiel-centric heart warmer "While We Have the Sun" led the relatively sparse but massively enthusiastic and adoring crowd to holler rabidly for an encore, which Mirah kindly answered with her signature epic showstopper "Cold Cold Water." That would have been plenty for any Mirah fan, but she upped the ante one final time with a discoed-out live version of one of her remix album tracks, complete with shinning disco ball and bubble machine to complement her ultra-groovy bongo breakdown finale.