Sometimes being a concert reviewer puts you in an interesting position. It certainly did when I went to see Julie Doiron and Bowerbirds at a sold out show at the Biltmore. Bathed in gold light, the opening half of the night’s double header, Julie Doiron, launched into a spare, intimate, yet fully rocking set with Fred Squire on drums. Doiron and Squire have a lot of chemistry together—on the love songs, one could be forgiven for mistaking the duo for a couple. Doiron was also accompanied by Attack in Black’s Daniel Romano, which opened up her sound and allowed for some powerful guitar duets. From the angry discord of “No More” to the genteel wonderment of “Snow Falls in November,” the breadth of Doiron’s set went far to prove that she’s still Canada’s indie queen (sorry, Feist). Although it was full of highlights, including her recent title “Spill Yer Lungs,” the pinnacle had to be the cover of Sam Cooke’s “Bring It on Home to Me;” everyone knew it and obviously enjoyed it.
But what the audience enjoyed even more was Bowerbirds’ set, which, judging by applause, they were clearly there to see over Julie Doiron (some folks in the crowd didn’t even know who Doiron was!). Full disclosure: I don’t really like Bowerbirds, but everyone else in attendance sure did. From opener “Hooves” right through to their curfew-extending finale, Bowerbirds received nothing but love from their audience—this was honestly the most applause I had ever heard for a band in the Biltmore. The folksy band played mostly as a trio, but opened up to a quartet several times, allowing for some incredibly varied instrumentation. I may not have enjoyed all of this, but, to coin a phrase, a few hundred Biltmore attendees can’t be wrong!