Tales for the city

Mobile make a stop in Kingston

Mobile’s middle-of-the-road rock strangely works for the Montreal-based band.
Mobile’s middle-of-the-road rock strangely works for the Montreal-based band.
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The Ending feature an unfortunate Rod Stewart look-alike.
The Ending feature an unfortunate Rod Stewart look-alike.
Photo: 

Ale House is a strange venue choice for a band whose latest album invokes images of rock stars far too cool for a place where the most fake-tanned and underdressed occupants of Kingston spend their evenings. Despite the potentially shady locale, Mobile attracted a more warmly-clad alternative Kingstonian crowd, fortunately bringing with them guitars and facial hair rather than miniature dogs and mini-skirts.

Playing as part of a K Rock 105.7 sponsored event, the Montreal-based band is currently embarking on a cross-Canada tour, largely focusing their set on their recently released second studio album Tales from the City. Their sophomore effort attempts a greater cohesiveness than their debut, endeavouring to channel a wider range of musical influences into a more manageable and linear form. Their sound is characterised by classic rock, powerful guitar solos and thoughtful lyrics.

Sadly, the night kicked off with a band ironically named The Ending, an opener that detracted from the main attraction’s credibility. The Ending’s genre-confusion and questionable fashion choices—Rod Stewart appeared to be rocking out on lead guitar—left me waiting for the promised ending. The band was a horrific mixture of bad lyrics (“You can touch me”), sunglasses and ridiculously tight jeans. The poor quality was such that Ale House was almost empty until the band left the stage.

Thankfully, Mobile entered in a wholly different fashion. Resembling something out of Almost Famous, the band had a more enjoyable and vastly more coherent musical approach from the very start of their set. The leader singer, Mat Joly, charismatically addressed the crowd with his wide smile and husky voice, possessing a powerful stage presence that reassured the audience their ticket money hadn’t been wasted after all. Joly opened with the powerfully guitar-driven “Daylight Breaks,” a song featuring Bloc Party-like wailing and perfectly captured by the stage lighting and sudden appearance of a highly excited crowd. Next was “The Killer,” a surprisingly upbeat song with a guitar-based melody. Clutching his tambourine throughout, Joly laughed along with the crowd in between crooning. More than anything, he seemed to be genuinely enjoying his Kingston musical experience.

Melancholy made an appearance with the a bleakly-titled song “No Tomorrow.” This change of mood and pace seemed to momentarily diffuse both the crowd and the band’s momentum, a problem Joly solved by loudly proclaiming his love of “cough drops and gin and tonic.” His somewhat unorthodox approach seemed to work and, combined with “Montreal Calling,” the floor was once again flooded with overenthusiastic supporters. Next was “Live to Find,” a comparatively mellow song, followed shortly by the first—and slightly less enjoyable—of two cover songs and the ethereal and high-impact “Slow Motion Car Crash.”

One of the highlights of their set, “See Right Through Me,” was impossible to ignore. The song is a hypnotizing, angry evaluation of a treacherous relationship, and one of the few songs played from Mobile’s first album Tomorrow Starts Today. “Hit the Floor,” one of the band’s only drum-based songs, has a chaotic, frantic rhythm that demonstrates the variation within Mobile’s musical repertoire and the talent of their drummer, Pierre-Marc Hamelin.

Although Mobile sometimes veered towards moments of inconsistency, they eventually rediscovered their musical aplomb and went on to play the superb second cover of the night, a version of the Black Sabbath hit “Paranoid.” The dizzy guitar riffs and unorthodox vocal styling demonstrated yet another facet of Joly’s approach and tied up the evening nicely. Thanking the audience and proclaiming his love for playing in Kingston, Joly finished with “Out of My Head,” possibly Mobile’s most famous song to date and an unparalleled crowd pleaser.

After the band exited the stage, announcing that they would be hanging out around the merchandise table for the rest of the evening for anyone who wanted a chat, I was left with the sense that despite the terrible opener and the handful of minor missteps, here was a band who genuinely enjoyed making music—and were actually pretty good at it.

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