LIGHTS Brightens Up Siberia


I still have mixed feelings about what I went through last night. I loved LIGHTS and the intimacy she cultivated onstage, but it was an all-ages show and I was surrounded by emo-goths and wannabe teen popstars. It was the closest thing to a pop concert I have been to, and this was The Rio, not Gaga or Bieber at Rogers Arena or B.C. Place. LIGHTS seems to have a good sense of humour about the sheer rabidness of some of her fans. She even knows a few of them by name. During her encore she related the story of a fan, in the audience that night, named Christian, who had seen her nine times (soon to be ten). To me, that seems like it’s over doing it.

It was a very strange dynamic. Standing at the front of the stage, trying to breathe her air, were all the trying-to-be-hip teenage fans (guys and girls). Meanwhile, an older fan was getting a lap-dance from his girlfriend in his seat (in front of mine no less). Save for when Alex the usher told them to stop, they were mercifully, largely ignored. At times I thought the teen fans were mildly inappropriate. It was a very intimate show with LIGHTS on her guitar (and occasionally piano) and Kevin Fox on the cello. Yet for some reason, 15 year old boys decided to make catcalls and shout out requests and sweet nothings during the middle of a song. Now, I’m not against screaming at shows or at the performers – at rock and metal shows it’s encouraged – but there is a time and a place. For now, I’m willing to give most of these fans a free pass – they are still young and have yet to learn to appreciate true concert etiquette. Which brings up another thing. Can you please stop filming the show on your iPhone right in front of me? You are within three feet of your hero and you insist on watching her on a six-inch screen. No wonder they call teenagers dumb.

Besides the fans, the music was actually quite lovely. It’s a testament to LIGHTS’ skill as an artist that she can an album, re-work it and re-write all the songs on it for two years and come out with an entirely new product. In talking with her, not only does she have a deep love and appreciation for types of music but she is very well-spoken. She reminds me of a smarter, more intelligent and more self-possessed Carly Rae Jepsen. The album has some great collaborators too: Adam Young (Owl City), Max Kerman of Arkells, and Beatrice Martin aka Coeur de Pirate.

What I particularly about enjoyed this concert was that it showed just how powerful LIGHTS’ voice can be. She can do the soft, folk-pop songs, and then belt out a tune like an old soul sister. And in true Canadian form, part of her song Peace Sign is in French. Her personal favourite track off of the original Siberia was Flux & Flow. The acoustic version really works too. I must say that I am partial to ‘Heavy Rope’. It’s very simple and has a killer chorus. Speaking of choruses, I had never seen a LIGHTS show before, nor was I a regular listener of her music, but I found myself picking up the words and singing along. That is a testament to her ability as a writer. She doesn’t try to be fancy, especially on an acoustic album. The other star of the night was her cello player Kevin Fox. He appears on six tracks of the album, and the melodies that that instrument created with both the piano and guitar was a very sensual experience.

Some of here fans waited in line six hours to see someone who is probably hanging above their beds every night. We all have our obsessions as teenagers looking to find ourselves, and I’ll hand it to her fans that are smart enough to not be Beliebers. LIGHTS knows that her audience is predominantly young people and it will be interesting to see if she can up her career as her fans age and how much she matures as an artists as she grows older. I think she is smart enough to do both. She asked for my hummus recipe too.

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Siberia Acoustic was released April 30, 2013.

RIYL: Regina Spektor, Coeur de Pirate, Ariane Moffatt,

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