To borrow a line from Morcheeba‘s rousing 2000 single “Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day”, Rome really wasn’t built in a day. The same can be applied to the UK trip-hop/rock/soul band, which has been steadily building an audience and wowing critics since their 1996 debut album, Who Can You Trust?. Their career came step-by-step, gaining a large following in Europe, while coming close to making a huge impression in North America. Then vocalist Skye Edwards left the Godfrey brothers (Paul and Ross) in 2003, and the band floundered for awhile. Edwards returned in 2010 with the release of their latest album, Blood Like Lemonade, and Morcheeba was reborn again.
If there was any love lost between Edwards and the Godfrey brothers during their separation, you wouldn’t know it by watching the band play Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom this past Thursday. The trio (plus accompanying keyboardist, DJ, and drummer) were in infectiously high spirits with a lot of hugging, teasing, and general merriment. Though I had personally been a fan of Morcheeba for a few years, I had never seen them live before and was thoroughly impressed by the band’s comfort with one another and level of engagement with the audience.
Being that Morcheeba specializes in dreamy, floaty trip-hop songs as well as joyous, rocking tunes, the audience was an eclectic mix of hippies, pop fans and hipsters, from all ages and walks of life. There was a wonderfully positive vibe to the crowd, egged on by copious amounts of marijuana smoke that hung in the air (after all it was Vancouver, and Morcheeba’s name does pertain to cannabis). But this didn’t mean the concertgoers were dead on their feet. Edwards did a commendable job in keeping everyone involved and hanging on her every (crystal clear) note. Some songs like the opener “The Sea” and “Part of the Process” were turned into giant singalongs where it wouldn’t have seemed out of place if everyone put their arms around each and swayed back in forth (if it was a movie, that totally would have happened).
The song “Beat of the Drum” was especially moving, with Edwards coaxing the crowd to sing during the chorus. With her hand to her ear, she’d yell “Louder!” and everyone struggled to match the height of enthusiasm she was putting out there. She was giving it her all, her magnificent pipes just belting out across the venue over and over again, to the point where people had tears in their eyes. Once the song was over, the crowd erupted into applause, and Edwards herself was so overwhelmed, she had to take some of her “medicine” — which was whiskey, by the way.
Aside from having the most gorgeous live voice I’ve heard in a long time and the fact that she just oozes natural charm and charisma, Edwards looked absolutely gorgeous. Her delicate frame was propped up on dizzying wedges and swathed in a tartan-like dress, which she told the audience she had actually made herself and wore in honor of the local Simon Fraser University Pipe Band. Apparently Morcheeba are huge fans of the prominent bagpipers. Who knew?
Although the band rolled out plenty of new material, which the crowd did enjoy, Morcheeba also dusted off old classics like “Trigger Hippy”, “Otherwise”, and “Slowdown”. With “Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day” wrapping it all up, the crowd stormed the stage in a blissed-out, soulful celebration with the band. As far as concerts go, you couldn’t have found a more beautiful and fitting way to end the night.
Never an Easy Way
Coming into Los Angeles
Part of the Process
Blood Like Lemonade
Beat of the Drum
Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day
Gallery by Karina Halle