After hosting a contest to see Pandaléon this weekend and writing a review of their most recent album, I had been thinking quite a bit about their upcoming show at the National Arts Centre Studio. The Studio is a flawless room for an intimate, captivating performance, and I was looking forward to really hearing what Pandaléon could offer with the NAC’s crystalline sound and the closeness. This band absolutely shattered my expectations, and delivered one of the finest concerts I have seen in some time.
With this show, Pandaléon had greater goals than simply to showcase their music. The set consisted of Atone played in its entirety, accompanied by precise minimalist lighting and thematic projections to emphasize the dark power of Atone, using the blackness to pull the audience into the depths of the record. Their purpose was to completely immerse the audience in the tightly-knit flow of the album and amplify the experience until we felt like we were bound to our seats by the soundscapes.
In my review of the album, I wrote that there were moments in which I felt the album needed to pull me in just a little more. The re-imagination of these songs for the stage did exactly that in every way I could have hoped. Atone was played with even greater patience and deliberation, extending every phrase to allow the audience to soak in it. Because the sound in the Studio is beyond perfect, thanks to the room and some dynamite tech staff, we could digest the finest qualities of every note. The subtle warping of the keyboards, the distorting bends of the guitar, the lightest of accents from the drums could all be processed with the utmost clarity.
Pandaléon is a trio that loves what they do, which was fully visible throughout their performance. Through many of the dramatic, slow, patient builds that involved structured improvisation, all three members were dialed in to the minutia of the music. This allowed the band to move seamlessly as a unit, to built smoothly and evenly as a cohesive whole until they would cease immediately in a fraction of a second, and progress to the next musical segment. The ambient interludes became part of the room, as if the music was seeping in from the walls and the floor. All of this done with the precision of a well-practiced band that would let no detail slip through the cracks.
Pandaléon will soon be taking Atone on tour. If they are stopping in your town, do not miss the performance. You will not be disappointed.