Published Sep 04, 2018Winding down their touring in support of last year's Ti Amo, French pop band Phoenix descended upon Vancouver's Commodore Ballroom yesterday evening (September 3). The band exuded boundless energy that belied the nearly 20 years since their first release, delivering a setlist that relied heavily on both their breakthrough record, 2009's Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix and Ti Amo, while touching on the milestones along their lengthy career.
The Commodore was a step down from the originally planned venue — the mostly seated Queen Elizabeth Theatre — but with no opener, the band were free to lead their hungry fans alone, and did so with aplomb.
The band opened the show with confidence, burning through "Ti Amo," "Lasso" and "Entertainment" with little banter. However, they were clearly enjoying themselves, settling into a setlist that would dip back in time to classic singles such as 2000's "Too Young" before whipping forward a decade. Christian Mazzalai's nimble fingerpicking was evident all night, but accompaniment during singer Thomas Mars' solo performances later in the set proved particularly intuitive and the perfect complement to a sweetly sung cover of Air's "Playground Love."
Phoenix nailed the slick grooves of their more recent synth-led material, yet made a point of showing off their chops as a rock band too. Bassist Deck d'Arcy left his keyboard for a jaunty rendition of "Rally" and the thrashing chorus of "Long Distance Call," the freedom of their older arrangements evident. That being said, the band are comfortable in the world of pop, their dynamism evident throughout the night.
As is his signature, Mars entered the crowd multiple times, weaving his way through during "Rome," and by the night's end — as the band performed "Ti Amo Di Più" — crowd-surfing. After thanking individual audience members, he stood atop the audience gesturing for a drink and was handed a beer eventually, before making his way back to the stage.
Between Mars' recollection of seeing Prince at eight years old, his effort to recreate that feeling during "Fior Di Latte" and the continued playfulness and sheer talent of the band all combined to demonstrate that Phoenix remain a great live band, even this many years into their career.