Review: Pet Shop Boys Live in Toronto


( guest blogger Will W. saw the Pet Shop Boys perform in Toronto this weekend and wrote up a great review of the show. Thanks, Will!)

Pet Shop Boys were a surprise addition to this year's Virgin Festival, also known as V-Fest. The influencial British electronic synth-pop duo consisting of Chris Lowe (Keyboards) and Neil Tennant (Vocals), made their first visit to Toronto in three years tonight as one of the festival's headlining acts. Much controversy had arisen over the original choice of venue in Orillia, Ontario which is an hour and a half from Toronto. Festival organizers eventually decided to relocate the event to Molson Amphitheatre based on the urging of ticket buyers.

Performing in front of an audience consisting of mostly twentysomethings whom might not have been familiar with the duo's repertoire was an ambitious task, but Pet Shop Boys wowed the audience completely by the end of their hour long show.

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Review: La Roux Live in Toronto


(Review by guest blogger: Will W.) La Roux continues its meteoric rise as the UK's hottest new pop act.  And if their recent shortlisting for the prestigious Mercury Prize for Best Album is any indication of respect, North America better be ready for an epic invasion soon. 

The duo is comprised of androgynous-looking vocalist Elly Jackson and producer Ben Langmaid.  Toronto's famed El Mocambo was the venue of choice tonight as part of La Roux's North American tour promoting their eponymous debut from Interscope/Cherrytree Records.  Langmaid was in absentia this evening as all focus was drawn to frontwoman Jackson, backed by a three piece band including one drum machine player and two synth keyboardists.

Tonight's set began at 11:15 PM EST  starting with "Tigerlily", which was warmly received by the enthusiastic sold-out crowd, mostly 20-something hipsters; their hit "Quicksand" followed.  The nine song set, which clocked in at just over 40 minutes, had Jackson starting off on a bit of an awkward note.  At one point early in the set, she had to walk off stage to speak to the sound technician as she complained about not being able to hear herself.  That problem was quickly resolved after she was instructed on how to properly wear her earphones.

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New Album Review: Freemasons "Shakedown 2"


(Review by guest writer Will W.)

Make no mistake about it, Freemasons are among the finest of production teams in existence.  The Brighton duo have just released the second installment of their "Shakedown" compilation series and it is phenomenal.  In an age where dance music now has strong electro leanings, Freemasons have remained true to their soulful disco roots; they remain relevant with a sound all their own.  Featured on "Shakedown 2" is an eclectic mix of re-workings of classics and newer collaborations with some of the hottest names in pop music.

The two-disc set is evenly balanced in that there are no real lulls to be found.  It is high-energy bliss from start to finish and its release is fittingly timed in a summer that unfortunately has lacked any true standout anthems.  The first disc boasts a stellar remix of Solange Knowles' "Sandcastle Disco"; Jamiroquai's "Don't Give Hate a Chance"; a cover of Alanis Morissette's "Uninvited" which outshines its original; Moby's delicious "Disco Lies"; "Keep This Fire Burning" (originally performed by Swedish pop muse Robyn) and the classic "Free" by Ultra Naté.

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