June 18, 2009

Toronto’s Gentleman Reg gives me dancing feet

Gentleman Reg by blurasis on Flickr
Photo by blurasis via Flickr at the band’s Ottawa show, April 22nd, 2009

Last Wednesday night saw the return of Toronto-based 5-piece Gentleman Reg, barely a month after their previous Vancouver date at the Commodore. This time, touring more suitably with A Camp (the last tour was with The Stills), they brought their infectious pop to the ill-fated Richard’s on Richards. I had expected a crowd even more keen on dancing than the passionate group at last month’s show, simply because of the difference in the headliners’ genres (A Camp, I expected, would draw a different crowd with music considerably more “dancy” than The Stills). I wound up disappointed with the lack of dancing, although the two girls in the front near me were rocking out pretty hard. (Frontman Reg Vermue enjoyed that so I tried to be less self-conscious about my own moves.)

The set included a stirring cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” that showcased guitarist François’s talent. They ended the evening with the catchy, sing- or clap-along “Boyfriend Song” for which Reg put away his gorgeous black guitar to tap out the beat with a tambourine. If you’re not bouncing to that one, there’s something wrong with you.

Gentleman Reg are amazing songwriters that carry a laid-back, artsy stage presence to accompany their tight performance. Reg’s lovable quips between songs add a distinct personality and sense of humour. “My fashion is choking me!” he lamented, adjusting the cord-like scarves around his neck and adding that he can’t sing when he’s being “strangled.”

I could only stick around to enjoy a few sweet songs in A Camp’s set, but the highlight of that was a stunning duet between singer Nina Persson (The Cardigans) and Reg. Their voices complemented each other’s, making a beautiful song truly perfect and a joy to watch as they performed an intimate set together.

A Camp’s set decor contrasted against the rough brick backdrop with delicate cloth and ribbon that was vintage in appearance if not also in make. It had a kitschy 70s Swedish feel, undeniably feminine and pretty. Nina herself seemed to combine punkrock makeup (reminiscient, unfortunately, of Avril Lavigne) with an elegant, almost traditional Swedish hairdo. I felt a hint of surreality seeing in person a musician popular in my teens. It was special.

Like after their previous concert, while I listened to Gentleman Reg on my iPod as I waited for the bus home I couldn’t help but move my feet. I reckon it’s a feeling common among their fans.