Sign up for newsletter
 

Whitehorse changes gears

Club Passim, Cambridge, Mass., May 21, 2015

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Other recent concert reviews
Whitehorse, the Canadian husband-and-wife duo of Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet, has changed gears.

In years past, they were more on the roots side, but you would have scratched your head wondering where that went during their show at what is billed as a folk club.

Only Whitehorse couldn't be accused of being folk oriented either in a tour behind their third studio album, "Leave No Bridge Unburned," which makes the duo come off far more rootsy in recording than live. Having drums and electric guitar as prominent instruments can have that effect.

McClelland and Doucet both took lead vocals throughout with both fully capable. And sometimes they sang together as they did at the start of the 80-minute show. One of the vocal highlights of the night was their take of "Dear Irony" from the new disc.

But what was perhaps a bit more on the dizzying side was the amount of changes within a given song. Over the course of a lone song, Doucet and McClelland might switch between three different instruments. Not to mention altering mics at times with McClelland sometimes singing out of an old school type mic.

Doucet was particularly effective on guitar, especially when he gave a rootsy vibe with tremolo.

Since the two of them apparently weren't enough to fill out the sound, Whitehorse often relied on backing tapes and loops to enhance the sonics. There was a lot of action going on there.

By the end - "Never Going Home" - Doucet commented, "We used to be a folk act and now we play heavy metal (you'd think) they'd show us the door, but they haven't."

Whitehorse wasn't exactly heavy metal by any stretch, of course, and they're certainly not folk either these days, but Whitehorse was very good at what they do.

Fellow Canadian musician Lindy Vopnfjörd opened with a pleasing set of intelligent songs where he paid home by his Icelandic roots by singing in the native tongue on "Dear Mother" and had a few other references to his homeland.