Toronto’s Gentleman Reg gives me dancing feet
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.