Seeing a band like Titus Andronicus, at a venue like Toronto’s The Great Hall, makes you appreciate everything little thing that happens on stage. For their first-ever acoustic tour, leader Patrick Stickles stripped the band down to its elemental core. Gone were their sprawling lengthy concept albums and punk-rock attitude in favour of a new challenge: Intimacy. Inside, you could almost hear a pin drop as Stickles and keyboardist Alex Molini played a selection of tracks off their fifth album, A Productive Cough, reducing the intensity of their full band into two members. Stickles, resembling a high-spirited lounge singer, started the show by bursting out from behind the stage curtain, mic loosely gripped, ready to serenade. With Alex Molini already present – tickling the ivories, no less – the evening’s duo delivered a laid-back affair, underscored by Stickles unbounded verbiage and storytelling. Inviting attendees to move and sing, the band played a new track entitled Above the Bodega (Local Business) detailing Stickles life in New York City, filtered through his deft observational skills. Elsewhere, with humour on display, they treated die-hards with their own Theme from ‘Cheers’ appropriately following it up with a cover of the real thing. Near the end of a nearly two-hour set, an enthusiastic Stickles proclaimed, “Hey, I like it when you sing! This is the Titus Andronicus acoustic tour — there is no hidden drum set behind this curtain so there’s a lot of sonic real estate available for you to sing!” Taking his advice, the crowd accompanied the band on No Future Part I from their debut, The Airing of Grievances, getting the most out of the night’s bizarre yet charming show. In truth, even without a full band, Stickles maintained his scruffy punk energy by way of sheer charisma. If one thing is certain, listening to them on record doesn’t do them justice: this group is meant to be experienced live.