Sloan: MacHall Maniacs

By David Kenney

Poor Sloan.

Every album, the Halifax hipsters bust their butts delivering clever, playful pop for a mostly unappreciative Canadian audience.

So sad, too bad.

Still, heavy success might mean Britney Spears and Sloan on the same bill. Pause that scary thought. Then consider this: Sloan as Canada’s own, multi-talented Fab Four.

"Forget Oasis, these guys are the next Beatles," one enthusiastic fan beamed at last Friday’s Mac Hall gig.

With apologies to John, George, Ringo and Paul, Sloan delivered a spandex-tight show even the mop-tops would twist and shout to. But unlike a Fab Four show, most folks took awhile before they started yelling and screaming.

That’s okay, Chris Murphy and company did it for them.

Shuffling around the stage like a sugar-high kid, Murphy was in full showboat mode. Shedding boyish grins, mock Kiss movements and nudge-nudge wit, he entertained and then some. Sizing up the crowd, he’d simply point and bang! He’d have a reply. That said, this was not a one man show.

Trading places at the mic, each member wooed the crowd with infectious charm and jittery melodies. Guitarist Jay Ferguson’s bashful odes to coupledom awed them.

Add that to Sloan’s peanut-butter smooth harmonies and cha-ching, a happy-meal of talent.

Playing most of the faves didn’t hurt either.

Gems like "Everything You’ve Done Wrong" and "People of the Sky" had the crowd in full-Karaoke mode.

Then when "The Good in Everyone" and "Losing California" rang out through the speakers, old Mac Hall’s floor took a beating.

Time of the night went to two songs. First, an extended version of Sloan’s signature track "Money City Maniacs" made Mac Hall a roadhouse rock haven with flashing sirens. Next, was Murphy’s solo on "Deeper Than Beauty", roaming from mic to mic for full sing-a-long approval.

Not that he needed it.

In-between songs the chant of "Sloooooooan, Sloooooooan" would go up and around like a boomerang.

As for opener Danko Jones, he just fell flat.

Perched on stage like Metallica’s James Hetfield complete with forceful facial ticks, Jones stormed and preached the bedroom gospel. But like most one-night-stands, the Toronto rock band left a bad aftertaste.

Sputtering lines like "I like it better when you take your clothes off," Jones time-warped to the bad-lyric ’80s.

Thank God for Sloan.

Full-bodied pop in a diet category, Sloan knows how to rip it up without becoming a rock cliche. Unlike perhaps, some over inflated British band (Oasis).


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