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Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra at Lee’s Palace (Jan 27, 2012)

Last week I had the great pleasure of seeing Montreal’s bombastically named  Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra at Lee’s Palace in Toronto. In short, the show was fantastic. I dragged along two friends who had never heard of the band before, and I didn’t give them much of a hint on what to expect, but needless to say they were both awed by the show. The show opened up with an expected offhanded political rant about Toronto’s government before launching into the first performance of the brand new song Take Away These Early Grave Blues. In fact the crowd at Lee’s was in for a treat, as TSMZ played a total of three new songs. You can see them all in the videos down before, this was the first time I filmed a whole show, but it was worth it. Sadly the video isn’t the best quality as I my arms got pretty shaky holding my camera up for the almost two hour long set, but I hope you enjoy them anyway!

Live video playlist

  1. Take Away These Early Grave Blues (new song)
  2. Blindblindblind
  3. 13 Blues For Thirteen Moons
  4. There Is A Light
  5. The State Itself Did Not Agree (new song)
  6. Horses In The Sky
  7. What We Loved Was Not Enough
  8. Psalms 99 (new song)

Like a lot of their fans I first came upon them back when they went by the marginally humbler name of A Silver Mt. Zion and were a stripped down side project of three core musicians of the orchestral post-rock juggernauts  Godspeed You! Back Emperors. At first I was put off by their changing sound as they ballooned from a three piece to a similar sized collective to GY!BE and started featuring frontman Efrim’s warbly voice as a main song element, but it has grown on me a lot over their last few records. TSMZ’s music has a human element that GY!BE’s lacked. GY!BE’s music and live show (which I had the good fortune to see twice last year) is more akin a force of nature. Overall I would have to admit that as much as I love GY!BE, I found TSMZ’s live show even better.

You would never guess if you only listened to their music, but Efrim turns out to be one of the best front men I’ve seen in ages. The banter between songs, question time and the heckling with the audience, does a great job of giving everyone a breather between their longer numbers. One of my highlights was when he was talking between songs telling an amusing story about a crazy night at the dance club above Lee’s Palace he had when he was 19, when he stopped and told us to look at the stage lights. They were bouncing like crazy from whatever was happening upstairs and looked like they could rain down on the crowd at any moment. Thankfully they survived the last song and encore.

It’s early days yet but I have a feeling this will be one of the best shows I see this year. The bar is now set quite high for everyone else…