Live Review: Methyl Ethel, Ada Lea

17 June 2019 | 3:15 pm | Rick Bryant

"A performance that was of a particularly high order.

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With a debut album just around the corner, Montreal-based musician Ada Lea arrived armed with a heavy arsenal of tracks. However, where a full band might have delivered these songs with muscle and presence, tonight she was accompanied by one other musician and it made gaining traction with the audience a big ask. While there were moments where it didn’t quite hit the mark, there was enough quality to suggest that brighter things await.

Headliners Methyl Ethel, playing in their hometown, offered a different proposition entirely. Having cut their teeth over a number of years and with a hat trick of fine records under their belt, the band are now in their prime. Frontman and chief songwriter Jake Webb kicked things off without the contribution of his bandmates, but it wasn’t long before they joined to deliver the power this venue warrants. With considerable sonic growth over the course of their career, the band’s live set was an upbeat, textured experience, set off by the utterly enthralling Webb. His idiosyncratic voice was flawless live, and his high falsetto was evidence of a singer in total control.

Recent release Triage was given thorough coverage, Ruiner and Scream Whole predictably joyful. They combined Webb’s superior knack for a melody, something patently clear since debut Oh Inhuman Spectacle, with robust grooves and great energy. The band did them great justice too. Tight and confident, they hit the stop-start nature of those two tracks with mathematical precision, and as Scream Whole bled into the wonderful Ubu, the crowd reached another level. Twilight Driving, a longtime favourite from that wonderful first album, was cleaned up and polished so it sat neatly alongside more recent tracks. Closer Drink Wine may have lacked some of the punch of earlier songs but it built beautifully and capped off a performance that was of a particularly high order. This band, and the captivating Webb, are a real force.