Thursday, 28 October 2010

small venue, big music (stream of passion and unexpect)

Several years ago now I got a chance to interview Stream of Passion vocalist Marcela Bovio for Unrestrained!. I was enchanted by the band's first album Embrace the Storm and it was a delight to chat with her about it. New record The Flame Within hadn't really registered with me the same way (or really had the chance), but when I found out the band was doing a small Canadian tour I knew I had to go see them perform.

The opening bands initially gave me a few extra frown lines (read Natalie Zed's review at Hellbound if you want to know more) but by the time the third group, Manahil, got underway I was starting to feel it. Their vocalist's lower-pitched melodies didn't always make it through the mix, but otherwise their laid-back keyboard-heavy sound started lulling me into a better mood. Still, I hung back for the time being, waiting for the main event.

I had seen Bovio and at least one of her bandmates during Manahil's set so I wasn't surprised by the tiny woman:big voice ratio (or the high-heeled boots and short skirt), but I might have been otherwise. The band and their equipment filled up most of the small stage at Sneaky Dee's, and sadly, the crowd in front of them didn't take up a whole lot more space. Intimate might be an understatement. But Stream of Passion played to make it count anyway and every single note struck deep. I wish Bovio had played more electric violin, and a longer set would have made me happy. Beyond that they completely mesmerized me for however long they performed (I completely lost my sense of time) – it was dramatic and powerful, soulful and melodic, and totally hit the spot.

Post-set hunger pangs had me slipping downstairs for a wrap with guacamole and tofu (heavenly!) but I made it back upstairs in time for most of Unexpect's wonderfully frenetic closing set.
I've been wowed by the band's live performance several times now (and really, live is the only way I can appreciate them), beginning with Northern Lights Fest in 2004 (which I had the pleasure to shoot).They delighted me, as always, like a bizarre otherworldly organic musical machine. If you missed it there's no truly effective way to convey in words the experience that is an Unexpect show but you can at least get a visual taste (photos on Hellbound by Adam Wills - I think image 8 is my favourite).

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