Well Mannered Thieves – Live at National Music Centre – October 11th, 2014 – Calgary, AB

Garters, guitars and so, so much more:

Well Mannered Thieves‘ EP release last Saturday was an evening of colour and heat. The band boasted an impressive range of styles at some moments pushing the limits of hard hitting alt rock and at others, settling down into hushed ballads that kept you locked right in with their intensity. If you’re thinking this sounds confusing, think again! The Thieves orchestrated every moment so naturally and energetically, you were shocked (and disappointed) when the vibrant set was over.

Paul Orton, one of the band’s lead singers, tells tales of heartbreak, resolve, admiration, detachment and memory with his sandy-smooth vox. His lyrics are mysterious in that they are sometimes as frank as Sunday morning, but at other times, delightfully thought-provoking in their ambiguity. Paul may be a man of poetry, but he is also daring…daring enough to break into a song featuring an urgent, rhythmic rapping verse section and totally pull it off.

Something special is when a lead singer is supported by solid back-up vocals. Even better is a second lead singer to soar right alongside. Heidi Cantalejo, a more recent addition to the band (she’s 3 months deep), definitely fits the bill. Heidi’s background in R&B and hiphop brings with it a whole lot of sass, simmer and smoke. And did I mention talent? Heidi and Paul craft beautiful melodies together, while butting heads, wrestling, and pulling each other’s hair…in the best way possible, I promise. Don’t believe me? Hit up the Thieves’ next show and you’ll see what I mean.

The band has got it all; solid back up vocals, tasteful guitar work, groovy keyboard lines, and a spotlight-dark-room-martinis-tophats-ballad-style comp-down on the grand piano (the grand piano was a special treat, but the smoky sentiment tends to carry forward with the Thieves). Mike Buckley, another recent addition to the band, throws his pleasing back-up vocals into mix and the end result is very cool.

And let us not forget the rhythm section. Brad Wedekind, to shamelessly employ the most abused bass-player cliché ever, is groovy. When the band locks into a tight, hip-thrusting beat, he’s right on top of it. And don’t think those quirky chord harmonies went under the radar, Brad! They were noted, respected, and thoroughly enjoyed.

Mac Sauce, Mac Sauce, Mac Sauce. Last but definitely not least, this drummer showcases an endless supply of contagious energy and heartbreaking authenticity behind the set. Unique beats texture every song, ranging from stirring, jazzy grooves all the way to head-banging, double kick mania that could be described as nothing other than pure passion.

Susie Forsyth kicked off the evening with an energetic, gritty and discerning acoustic set. Postmodern People was next, whose rocknroll presence was both throbbing, powerful and dance-inducing. While the bands set up, the side stage gyrated with the tantalizing Garter Girls burlesque act, leaving the audience thoroughly entertained and never ever bored. Micaela Dawn’s artwork and Mossy Rock Productions’ light show and sound were the wholly necessary cherries-on-top.

Long story short, the evening was a blast.

Written by Melissa King-Hope
Photo by Zachary Smith    Featherlight Photography

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