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The Barr Brothers: A Homecoming

by Ayan Chowdhury November 10, 2014
The Barr Brothers: A Homecoming

The band’s Metropolis show had the audience fall in love with their heart-wrenching songs all over again

It would be an understatement to simply call The Barr Brothers a folk-rock band. With an eclectic sound that utilizes xylophones, a harp, and an African string instrument known as the ngoni, not to mention the various musical influences fusing everything from blues to bluegrass, the band defies categorization.

The Montreal-based group consists of the brothers Barr (Andrew; guitar/lead vocals, Brad; drums, Sarah Pagé; harp, and Andres Vial;keyboards). Halfway through the show, Andrew Barr surveyed the sold-out crowd at the Metropolis, looking notably surprised but grateful by such a large turnout.

Photo by Steve Gerrard.

Opening the show was Bahamas, a Toronto-based band led by the talented guitar-wielding Afie Jurvanen. While they served a dose of hard rock that in line with the headliner of the night, their hour-long set dragged on nearing the end.

Although the Barr Brothers may be known for their beautiful folk arrangements such as “Beggar in the Morning”, this particular night served as a surprising tribute to their heavier tunes, complete with multiple solos (and yes, that includes a harp solo). Songs such as “Half Crazy”, with a blues riff which screams old school cool, was easily among the crowd favourites. However, as evidenced by “How The Heroine Dies”, sometimes the most intimate songs are the best way to energize the crowd. Huddled around a lone mic, with a single spotlight on Andrew Barr and co., the song encapsulated the band’s ‘heart on its sleeves’ sensibilities.

Speaking of lights, a word of advice to the person in charge of lighting effects at the Metropolis: please don’t try to upstage the wonderfully talented band on stage with your near seizure-inducing flashing lights that forced half the crowd to look away during the entirety of a song. Both the fans and the musicians deserve better.

The Barr Brothers’ latest album, Sleeping Operator (Secret City Records), is available in stores and on iTunes

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