It’s impressive to think that Sloan has been representing Canadian rock and roll for almost three decades. Having said that, man have those guys gotten old. When they stopped by Montreal’s Café Campus for a full evening with no supporting act, they themselves acknowledged their career length multiple times. But even if they hadn’t, Patrick Pentland’s extremely long, Santa Claus-white hair was more than enough proof of the band’s tenured legacy.
To say that they make musical versatility look easy would be an understatement. Each member of the core four took a turn on lead vocals, and there was even instrument switching going on. Drummers became guitarists, bassists became drummers, and one guy in an orange jump suit that was covered in scout badges stood behind a giant guitar cab and tuned string instruments, often spending his time playing and singing along to the songs. They also had an auxiliary keyboardist along for the ride who added even more harmonies (sometimes there were five parts!) and extra percussive elements. And saying that the huge pedal board in front of each guitarist was unnecessary would be missing the point; even if they didn’t need that much gear, they’ve earned the right to show it off.
The first set flowed well, and the fact that Sloan are so adept at writing short songs that pack a punch meant that they could fit a whole lot of songs into roughly an hour. Visually they didn’t have a crazy light show or anything, but that doesn’t mean that their stage lacked character. The amps were adorned with doodads like shamrocks and ice cream cone stickers. The purple lights gave emphasis to the kind of ageless rock and roll that Sloan deals in. Songs like “All of the Voices” held down the more upbeat end of things while drummer Andrew Scott had the chance to lead the moodier side on songs like “People of the Sky.”
At the end of the set, the band made sure to emphasize that they would be coming out to play again. They asked us not to go, unless we were going to the merch table. Haha. The venue wasn’t packed to the brim, but it was full enough that there was a definite collective sigh of relief as folks made their way outside for their cigarettes. It was during this (fairly extended) break that I was able to see that the bar had designed a special drink menu that flashed the band’s name behind the bar. It was pretty cool.
Just before 10 o’clock the band came back out for set number two. Like the first set, this one included songs old and new and covered various moods. They started it off with “Don’t Stop (If It Feels Good Do It)” from their latest release, the aptly named 12, and the set also included the career highlight “The Other Man.” Of course two sets is never enough, and there was obviously an encore to wrap things up. Every Sloan fan knew that the evening’s closing number would be “The Good In Everyone,” and the huge singalong that came with it provided the perfect end to a pretty perfect evening of music.
Written by Syd Ghan
Photography by Michael Kovacs
*edited by Kate Erickson