Blonde Redhead / Ólöf Arnalds Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver BC November 21

Blonde Redhead / Ólöf Arnalds Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver BC November 21
All it takes is one song to fall in love with "löf Arnalds. Her syrupy vocals meld perfectly with her nimble picking, alternately on an acoustic guitar and charango. Her warm eyes glow beneath a mane of short, bleach blonde hair, and above a pearly white smile that couldn't help but shine, even during the odd lamenting tune. Though most of her material was sung in her original Icelandic, including an ace cover of "Twilight Time" by the Three Suns (made famous by the Platters), one can sense the joy she feels, and gives out, by her heartwarming presence and slightly awkward banter.

However, as time wore on through her set, it became increasingly difficult to focus on her sound. The chatter of the room quickly overpowered her strings, and her voice, while captivating, was a little too subtle for the setting. Given the lush arrangements and harmonies on her 2010 album Innundir Skinni, a little bit more oomph would have done wonders in in the spacious Commodore Ballroom.

Blonde Redhead's level of sophistication shows their longevity, having been together just shy of two decades. Featuring brothers Simone and Amedeo Pace on guitar and percussion, respectively, and the bizarre Kazu Makino, who trades vocals with Simone between spurts on keyboard and guitar, the band were tight through material old and new. Though his singing isn't the most riveting, Simone played his oddly shaped guitar with precision, while Amedeo worked hard to flesh out the pulsing lower frequencies, partly provided by a fourth touring member on synth duty and syncopated rhythms.

Yet, as impressive as the rest of the band undoubtedly were, it was obvious Makino is the star of their stage show. She came out wearing a deformed white plastic mask with two tufts of straw hanging from it, and it was impossible to take your eyes off her from that moment on. Her voice may not have the widest range, but her morose crooning resonates like a forest fire once it gets under your skin, accented by her unsettling physical movements.

All together, though, Blonde Redhead put on a wicked show with a rich, well-rehearsed sound, stunning yet minimalist visuals, and a sense of theatricality often lost in this modern age. Even their lighting guy was stellar, always presenting something different with each song, typically cued by the lyrics or percussion. Here's to future decades of Blonde Redhead.