Reviewed by Stacey Boden
And so the three heroes many of us have grown up with over the last thirteen years, from the publication of the first novel, to the release of the last two films, find themselves facing their penultimate challenge.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 sets the stage for the conclusion of a story many have come to love. We are immersed in a wizarding world, with fantastic battles, unlikely friendships and love. When J.K. Rowling first wrote her seven part series it was intended to grow with its readers, beginning with Harry as a young boy feeling out of place and finding somewhere that he fit in completely. The films carried on that tradition, and now we find ourselves watching Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) as adults.
Hogwarts is a thing of the past, especially considering the death of beloved headmaster Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) in the previous adaptation, and our three protagonists are living adult lives and making undoubtedly adult decisions as they watch their loved and trusted companions fall away.
Much like Lord of the Rings, the trio finds themselves ultimately alone in their quest to obtain the final horcruxes needed to defeat the villain Voldemorte and complete the last task given to Harry by Dumbledore. In a compelling retelling of a favourite story, director David Yates does his best to take out the unnecessary, introduce new drama and darkness, all the while leaving in the major plot points that twist our hearts and bring tears to our eyes.
For those who have never read the books, and even for those who have, the intensity of the cinematography will capture your attention for the full 146 minutes, even if the growth of the actors, the captivating plot points and heart wrenching connections between the characters do not. Even those who know what to expect from the next film left the theatre asking, “What happens next?”
Let’s put things up front: Dan Mangan puts on one of the best live shows out there. Everyone, Vancouverite or otherwise, is urged to see him at the next possible opportunity. Which might be a bit difficult, since he managed to sell out two shows at the Vogue weeks in advance, and did the same back in May. Dan Mangan, for those unaware, is a Vancouver based indie-folk artist, which doesn’t sound particularly impressive, but Mangan has such stage presence and charisma that I doubt anybody could have walked away from Saturdays show without a smile, or a tear. He gives a damn about the music, and the performance, and the audience.
Opening up the show was The Crackling, followed by Burning Hell, with the members of The Crackling also playing as Mangan’s backing band later in the show. The Crackling played folk with excellent acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and cello work, and got the audience in a charged up mood. Their frontman Kenton Loewen was charismatic and talkative, and set the mood nicely for Burning Hell up next.
With Mathias Kom hoisting a ukelele, and backed by cello and a synth/guitar/glockenspiel/other-assorted-gadgetry, Burning Hell joked and played catchy, witty, and plain funny songs about love, death, and life. Their work is energetic, funny, and plain fun, and are highly recommended. The audience loved every minute of it; Burning Hell could easily have been the headliner from the volume of the crowd.
Dan Mangan finally took the stage with a revolving lineup including the members of the Crackling as well as a six-piece brass and string section. Mangan and his band could rock out with “Road Regrets”, and bring tears to eyes with “Fair Verona”. Veda Hille joined Mangan for a beautiful version of “The Indie Queens are Waiting”, and the last song “Robots” had the entire Vogue singing along. The mark of a true performer though, is that even the breaks between songs were enjoyable, with banter between the band, stories and jokes earning smiles on every face in the theatre.
If you haven’t heard anything by Dan Mangan yet, here’s his video for “Robots”. If it doesn’t melt your heart, you might not have one to begin with:
Small Black played the Media Club back in April with Washed Out, just off the release of their five song debut EP. They now have a full lengh called New Chain, and I was thrilled to see the band coming back to the Media Club so soon after seeing them last.
Opener was Young Prisms, starting well after 10 in a chilled-out Media Club last night, Local Natives playing in the background. Young Prisms was, in a word, noisy. Playing lo-fi shoegaze, something in their work strikes a familiar chord, but I can’t quite place it. A more energetic My Bloody Valentine, perhaps, or a less energetic No Age or Times New Viking. Band members cycled on and off the stage, layering drawn out vocals with driving, hazy guitar work, dripping with echo and reverb.
Young Prisms are from the San Francisco area, and you could almost hear the music filtered through sun and salt drenched air. While here in Vancouver, in the cold November air and with the coming rain, Young Prisms guitars became something you could almost curl up and fall asleep to, If you don’t go deaf first. The Media Club is a small, small low room which gets very, very loud. As a side note, one of the best shows I’ve ever seen was the Thermals playing the Media Club, but it actually hurt near the end of the set, and my ears were ringing for days. Lesson learned: this time I came with ear plugs.
Next up was Class Actress, 80‘s synth dance sounds behind the singing of Elizabeth Harper. Elizabeth reminded me of Emily Haines from Metric, if not in looks then certainly in attitude. A more sultry Emily, a glamorous La Roux. If you’re a fan of La Roux, in fact, you will probably enjoy the stripped down electro dance of Class Actress. It wasn’t my style, but give her a bigger production budget, and I think Class Actress could become a force to be reckoned with.
Small Black’s New Chain hasn’t captured the hearts of indie fans as much as the EP, but the secret is in the live show. The Brooklyn four-piece injected electric energy into the album material, which while not sleepy, is certainly more controlled and toned down. I couldn’t help but grin at the slam of the bass beat in my chest (and I couldn’t stop staring at keyboardist Ryan Heyner’s tiger t-shirt). The songs took on an energetic, danceable beat, and the room responded in kind. The band played through choice tracks off New Chain, as well as the favourites from the EP, and gave each song a new spin. I missed the ear-piercing treble guitar from Weird Machines, but the new bass lines definitely made me move.
Despicable Dogs, from the EP, was the highlight song of the show and the crowd favourite. There were no misses, either. Encore song Photojournalist, the first single from New Chain, was a great cap to the evening, dreamy and setting a lasting mood for the ride home. It looks like even with a four-piece lineup rather than the five of last show, Small Black have stepped up their live game.
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