Anyway Gang Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON, January 17
Published Jan 18, 2020Musicians only get to play their "first show" once, unless, of course, they participate in the growing trend of forming supergroups with their contemporaries and start from scratch. Anyway Gang, the newest Canadian supergroup composed of the frontmen from Hollerado, Sloan, Tokyo Police Club and Sam Roberts Band, just got their second first show.
Make no mistake, this was very much a first gig, hiccups and all. Endearing hiccups, mind you. At times, the Gang were struggling to keep it together, but it was tender and special to see some of Canada's biggest rock'n'rollers — far more used to larger venues — tripping up and laughing with the crowd standing five feet away. Like Chris Murphy told his pals after an early guitar flub, "it makes it a special night that we're clearly struggling, and everyone's rooting for us!" That was very much the relationship between crowd and band.
That's not to say it was all amateur hour. The set, which covered the self-titled Anyway Gang album from start to finish, was oozing the musical chops and sing-along hooks you'd get at any given member's usual shows. And with the inclusion of additional stage musicians, which included Nixon Boyd and Anne Douris, the supergroup live was more of a super duper group. A particular shoutout must go to the vocal harmonies that Chris Murphy and Sam Roberts managed to produce during the "Only You" choruses. Absolutely killer, and tragically for anyone who missed it, leagues ahead of the album recording.
Technical skill aside, the best part of the live show was easily be the A-tier bandmate banter. It should come as no surprise that a group of lead singers know how to dunk on each other. Chris and Menno Versteeg's back-and-forths above all stood out, at times jokingly adversarial while at other moments showing deep astonishment to be sharing a stage with each other.
After playing through the album material, Anyway Gang wrapped the night with two perfectly dad rock covers, "Walk of Life" and "Dancing With Myself." There's no shame in the dad rock if you own it, and seeing the gang confirm what they're all about through their choice of covers was cute as heck.
One has to imagine it's a scheduling nightmare to get all four on stage together, so it'll be interesting to find out if Anyway Gang plan to do this more, or if this show was something like a one and done. Based on the strength of this debut, Anyway Gang have us hoping for more big nights like this.